Joe Manchin of West Virginia

Democrats In Disarray; Progressives Vs. Moderates—What Is The Future Of “Social Infrastructure”?

It now seems clear that the progressive vs moderate battle in the Democratic Party is making the party look in disarray.

One must realize that with a 50-50 Senate and only a 6 vote margin in the House, this is not the time of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal, or the time of Lyndon B. Johnson and the Great Society.

If Georgia’s two Senate seats had not been won in a runoff in January 2021, the opposition Republicans would be in charge, and nothing that the Democrats want would be occurring, or have the potential of occurring.

And as much as there is anger toward West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema, it would not work to attack them to the point where either might consider switching parties.

So the future of “Social Infrastructure” now seems essential to pare down from the proposed $3.5 trillion over 10 years to, more likely, a figure in the $2 trillion level.

This means some of the programs proposed will have to go by the wayside or be cut back in coverage or years, an unavoidable situation, highly regrettable, but reality must set in, sadly!

The Ultimate Week Of Reckoning For Joe Biden And The Democratic Party Future

President Joe Biden has been in office a week more than eight months, and he has had high public opinion ratings until the last month, with so many issues clashing, including the withdrawal from Afghanistan; the continuing COVID-19 Pandemic debate; and the problems at the Mexico border.

So right now, Biden is backed by only 43 percent in some polls, and the pressure is on to move ahead this week on the domestic policy agenda.

This will be seen as the ultimate week of reckoning for Joe Biden and the Democratic Party future, as debate begins on the Physical Infrastructure bill which passed the Senate with a bipartisan support of 69-30 on August 10, and the House of Representatives will vote on it this week.

The proposed “Social Infrastructure” bill, which would be the most expanded reform program since the Great Society of Lyndon B. Johnson and the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt is more complicated. Progressive Democrats and moderate Democrats are fighting over the price tag of $3.5 trillion over ten years, and the issue also of gaining the support of Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who are resisting modifying the filibuster to accomplish the legislation.

The price tag might have to be lowered substantially, and the issue of the order of voting for the two pieces of legislation is also holding up progress, as moderates want the bipartisan bill passed now, and the more progressive “Social Infrastructure” bill to be passed later, while progressives in the party want passage of both at the same time.

Time To Make Clear That “Social Infrastructure” Bill Is Over TEN Years, NOT One Year, And Essential!

It is very disconcerting to see West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema, and some moderate Democrats in the House of Representatives, make clear their opposition to the proposed $3.5 trillion “Social Infrastructure” legislation, while supporting the $1 trillion “Physical Infrastructure” bill that has bipartisan support in the Senate.

The “Physical Infrastructure” bill covers roads, bridges, airports, rails, water systems, clean drinking water, cleaning the environment, and high speed internet access, and is urgently needed, gaining a 69-30 bipartisan vote in the Senate.

But the “Social Infrastructure” bill, over TEN years, NOT one, would cover many urgent matters, including:

Expansion of Child Tax Credits and establishment of paid family and medical leave
Expansion of Medicare to include dental, hearing, and vision benefits and possibly lower the Medicare age from 65 to 60
Funding for Elder Care and Disabled Care in their homes
Funding for Child Care so young children would have two years of publicly funded pre-Kindergarten Education
Funding for two years of Community College Education for students after high school
Funding for Climate Change legislation and promotion of electric vehicles
Provisions to lower the price of prescription drugs
Infrastructure investment for Native American communities
Increase in taxes on wealthy people and corporations, which in many cases pay ZERO taxes right now
Bolstering the Internal Revenue Service’s staff and enforcement resources to do its job of raising tax collection

If passed into law, it would be the biggest expansion of the social safety net since the Great Society of Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1960s!

The lie that is being spread is that the $3.5 trillion bill is all in one year, when it is actually over ten years, or $350 billion per year.

Meanwhile, the defense budget, bloated with lots of projects that are not needed but bolstering the profits of defense corporations which pay bribes to get their programs funded, is $700 billion per year, double the amount for the infrastructure bill.

This means that defense over the next ten years would be 7 TRILLION, double the social spending, but of course, defense is presented as one year at a time, while social reforms are portrayed as all at once, when it is totally false!

It is urgent that both pieces of legislation pass, and not be derailed by lies and deception. Government for all the people, not just the privileged, is long overdue!

The Fight For National Voting Rights Is Intense!

Texas Democrats are in Washington, DC as they work to prevent the state legislature from passing massive limitations on voting rights.

Many Republican states have done or are doing the same, promoting the return of “Jim Crow” laws, as if the Voting Rights Act of 1965 under Lyndon B. Johnson had not become law six decades ago!

But the disgraceful right wing Supreme Court has done great harm to that signature law, and has complicated the fight to restore and preserve national voting rights.

So the Democrats, with their razor thin majority MUST push to end the filibuster, at least for the basic right to vote, and Joe Biden gave a speech in that regard today in Philadelphia.

Pressure must be brought against Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona to do the right thing, as otherwise, what is the point of having a majority?

The Joe Manchin Problem

West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin is a real problem for the Democrats in the US Senate.

While he is a Democrat, and has supported all actions so far by President Joe Biden in legislative votes, he has now made it clear that he will NOT work to end or modify the Senate filibuster. This despite great disappointment that ten Republican Senators could not be found to support the creation of the January 6 Commission.

Manchin is a conservative who, if he was to retire or lose support of his voters, he would be most likely replaced by a Republican, so this creates an impossible situation in a 50-50 Senate.

This mess creates great problems for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and could do great damage to the Joe Biden agenda, in a way similar to what Barack Obama faced after the first two years of his Presidency.

The ability to have a voting rights law to overcome the actions by many Republican legislatures to limit voting rights for racial minorities will be hampered, as well as a serious infrastructure legislation, gun control legislation, immigration reform, and so much else.

“Reconciliation”, which would not require 60 votes, might be possible, but is based on some bipartisan support, which is far from guaranteed.

The Fear If One Democrat In The Senate Is Lost Through Health Issues, Republicans Control The Senate!

Joe Biden and the Democratic Party hold power in Congress by a “hair”, with an evenly split Senate, and only a few votes margin in the House of Representatives!

So if one Democratic Senator was to be incapacitated or pass away, the Senate would become Republican controlled for the rest of the 117th Congress!

With the Senate being generally older age than ever before, the danger of such a tragedy is multiplied.

So it is essential for Joe Biden to stop trying to deal with the Republicans, who are recalcitrant, and move ahead on his ambitious agenda.

And with Republicans being very unwilling to cooperate or compromise, hopefully Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona might be willing to agree to change the filibuster rule so that action on the Biden agenda can move forward!

Joe Manchin And Bernie Sanders: Polar Opposites Complicating The Ability For Legislation

The Democratic Party is a “wide tent” party, unlike the Republicans, but being a “wide tent” creates its own issues, particularly when we have a 50-50 Senate.

On the Left we have Bernie Sanders, who is really a Socialist more than a Democrat, and does not work well with others.

Any thought that Sanders might have been President would have been a nightmare, as he does not understand Compromise.

But then, on the Right, we have Joe Manchin, who is a Democrat, but more like a Republican, and makes life difficult for Democrats, but the alternative if he joined the Republican Party or was defeated by a Republican in West Virginia, would be worse.

So Joe Biden has to do a balancing act to gain the backing of both Sanders and Manchin, and that is extremely difficult, but important, in order to accomplish the goals of his Presidency!

Unwise For Republicans To Denounce Lisa Murkowski, And Democrats To Denounce Joe Manchin: They Could Switch Parties After Midterm Elections

Now that the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court has been accomplished, by the smallest margin since 1881, there is discussion in both political parties about retribution to be paid for the one Republican Senator, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and the one Democratic Senator, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who broke ranks in their parties and voted against the party line.

This is very unwise, and could reverberate after the midterm elections are completed.

What if the US Senate ends up with a 50-50 split, which would give Vice President Mike Pence the ability to organize the Senate for the Republicans?

If Lisa Murkowski is angry in November, she could decide to switch parties, becoming a Democrat, as long as the party promised, with her 16 years of Senate experience, to give her a committee chairmanship. That would make the Senate 51 Democrats and 49 Republicans, backfiring on the Republicans.

Or what if the Senate became 51-49 Democratic, and Joe Manchin decided to switch to the Republican Party, making a 50-50 tie, giving Mike Pence the ability to organize the Senate for the Republicans?

What it comes down to is that no political party should punish its members because they are not always in lockstep with their party.

There is no reason why all Democrats have to be to the left of center, and all Republicans have to be to the right of center.

In the past, there were a lot of people who “crossed the aisle” on a regular basis, and accomplished great goals, as for instance Lyndon B. Johnson gaining support of many Republicans for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 due to his ability to work with Republican Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen.

Another instance was a deal on Social Security reform in 1983 between Ronald Reagan and Democratic House Speaker Thomas “Tip” O’Neill.

The only way to move ahead is to overcome the confrontational, no holds barred rhetoric, that now has made Congress such an inept institution, and promote willingness of both parties to negotiate and compromise for the good of the nation and its future.

Profiles In Courage: Heidi Heitkamp Of North Dakota And Lisa Murkowski Of Alaska

Tow US Senators, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the first a Red State Democrat, and the second a Republican, shine today as true “Profiles in Courage”, for voting NO on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

Heitkamp is in danger of losing her seat, but let her conscience rule her decision.

Murkowski was the only Republican to break the solidarity of the party and do the right thing.

Both saw Kavanaugh as besmirching the image of the Supreme Court as more significant than the future of this one individual nominee.

The rest of the Republicans, including Jeff Flake of Arizona, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Susan Collins of Maine, and also Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia did what seemed more to defend their seats and position, than do what is right.

Susan Collins will now face the wrath of Maine voters in 2020, as will Ben Sasse in Nebraska, and both are likely to see their political influence wane as a result of their actions.