As President Joe Biden unveiled a sweeping, $2 trillion infrastructure proposal, Republican lawmakers detailed their party’s own carefully thought-out counter-plan, which consists of one word: No.
The GOP might consider broadening that plan to “Heck no!” but that’s only if party members have time between filming themselves standing awkwardly in the dark along the U.S.-Mexico border or angrily venting about rapper Lil Nas X’s “Satan Shoes.”
On Thursday, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said of Biden’s infrastructure plan: “I’m going to fight them every step of the way, because I think this is the wrong prescription for America.”
McConnell neglected to detail the right prescription for America, presumably because it’s buried on his desk beneath the Republican Party’s expansive health care plan, immigration plan, gun violence plan and a stack of 13,543 handwritten constituent letters expressing deep concern about liberals coming to take their guns and Dr. Seuss books.
This is what we’ve come to expect. Even under the former president, Republicans chose to stoke outrage and crank out a stream of Twitter and Facebook memes that “own the libs” rather than offer up actual policy.
Even when they do have policy ideas to talk about, Republicans and the right-wing media ecosystem thrive primarily on shouted slogans like “MIGRANT CARAVAN!” and “ANTIFA THUGS!” and “VOTER FRAUD!”
In the four years before Biden took office, every week was Infrastructure Week, a term that never meant anything, and we were always exactly two weeks from seeing an amazing GOP health care plan that would erase the tyranny of Obamacare. We remain, I assume, exactly two weeks away from seeing that plan.
In the right-wing world, ideas, like facts, have become irrelevant. What matters is anger and the steady white-noise (pun intended) of huffy politicians and pundits delineating the reasons their supporters/fan base should feel deeply aggrieved.
While congressional Democrats were pushing through Biden’s coronavirus relief bill, the American Rescue Plan Act, with zero Republican support, GOP lawmakers and right-wing pundits were tied up with myriad issues of great importance to struggling Americans. Those issues ranged from continuing to undermine the foundation of our democracy by questioning the outcome of the 2020 presidential election to continuing to undermine the health of our country by stirring doubt about the safety of the very safe COVID-19 vaccines.
Remarkably, those same folks still found time to discuss, at length, a toy potato’s penis and start hollering xenophobically about the border being overrun by “diseased” criminals and terrorists.
Could they instead have focused on a relief plan that is, according to a mid-March Gallup poll, supported by 63 percent of Americans? Sure. But if Republicans don’t scare their constituents enough to keep them up at night, those constituents might get enough rest to realize they’re being played.
Since moving from the relief bill to an infrastructure plan, Republicans maintained their serious style of governance by repeatedly discussing video of Biden tripping three times going up the steps to Air Force One, still going on about Dr. Seuss and equating the idea of people showing proof of COVID-19 vaccinations to Nazism.
“Proposals like these smack of 1940s Nazi Germany,” Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina told Fox News. “We must make every effort to keep America from becoming a ‘show your papers society.’ The Constitution and our founding principles decry this type of totalitarianism.”
OK. So Republicans like Cawthorn want the former president to get full credit for the vaccines because they’re amazing and miraculous. But nobody should have to show that they’ve been vaccinated because that’s totalitarianism. And while the former president recently said on Fox News that the vaccines are safe, host Tucker Carlson keeps saying things like this:
“If the vaccine was so great, why were all these people lying about it? Honest question. And they were lying, clearly they were lying. You know that for certain, because from the moment the COVID vaccine arrived, the most powerful people in America worked to make certain that no one could criticize it.”
All of this is, in a word, stupid. In fact, I’ll go ahead and make my assessment two words longer than the GOP health care plan currently is by calling it “painfully stupid.”
That’s by design. The present-day Republican Party, in lieu of policy, is dishing out nonsense. And regardless of the party’s fervent, always-lathered-up base, a wide swath of Americans have taken notice.
A recent Morning Consult/Politico poll of registered voters found that Democrats are trusted over Republicans on every major policy issue. On health care, Democrats are favored 52 percent to 30 percent over Republicans. On immigration, Democrats are favored 45 percent to 38 percent over Republicans. They’re favored on jobs, the economy, the environment, education, coronavirus, guns and even energy and national security.
That doesn’t mean Democrats have the best ideas. More likely, it means Democrats have SOME ideas, while Republicans offer little more than performative outrage that, for all but the hardest-core Fox News fanboys, grows tiresome.
Biden and Democrats in Congress will fight for their infrastructure plan. And if Republicans decide to just mutter varying versions of the word “NO!” while searching for the next meaningless culture war battle to lose, it’s likely most Americans will coalesce behind the Biden plan.
Maybe that’s what Republicans want. At least it gives them something to bellow about on Fox News.
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