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Don't Count 'Em Out: The Democratic State of Play

Jamie Stiehm on

"Biden goes to church and walks through a graveyard in Wilmington as his legislative agenda is dying in Washington." -- Tweeted by a Washington Post reporter

Nineteen words shows what ails the press covering politics at the top rung. Jaded, in a word. The cold-blooded sneer as the president visited family graves shocked even the Twitterverse.

And it was dead wrong. President Joe Biden's ambitious two-track legislative agenda is alive on Capitol Hill for all of October. The mainstream coverage is colorful but shallow, with daily headlines saying Democrats are "lurching," "blockaded" and "infighting."

But few delve into details of the bipartisan infrastructure bill (BIF) and the content of Build Back Better, Biden's visionary plan for social infrastructure. The BIF bill is for shoring up familiar infrastructure, like roads, bridges, ports, trains and broadband.

The second is a new deal, especially for women and children. Universal pre-K, paid family leave, child care, home health care, lower drug prices and adding dental/vision/hearing benefits to Medicare. Businesses and the rich would pay a fairer share of taxes.

After all our floods, fires and droughts, climate crisis measures are also part of the lifesaving legislation.

 

Democrats in Congress have not settled on the time and money frames -- somewhere between $1.5 and $3.5 trillion. Yet you hear that "moderates" and "progressives" in the House are locked in combat, preventing a vote on either bill.

The real gap right now is between the House and the Senate Democrats, two in particular. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona are playing singles instead of joining with the other 48 Democrats to play on their team to deliver a major win.

The culture of the lordly Senate "plantation" gives them tacit permission to hold up a new president of their own party.

The truth is, there are only a handful of moderates in the House, compared to about 90 in the progressive faction. The press is overstating the power of moderates like Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., who does himself no favors with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., by scolding for a vote on the bipartisan bill, passed by the Senate.

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Copyright 2021 Creators Syndicate, Inc.
 

 

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