Six Month Anniversary Of President Joe Biden: A Positive Change And High Public Opinion Ratings!

Today, July 20, marks the six month Anniversary of the Joe Biden Presidency!

What a vastly different six months these have been, and Joe Biden’s public opinion ratings rank in the high 50s to low 60s, depending on which assessment is examined.

Many problems have arisen, as with any President who comes into office, but Biden is pushing ahead on infrastructure legislation, and wants a large “human infrastructure” bill, based on “reconciliation”, 50 Democratic votes and Vice President Kamala Harris.

Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema continue to present problems in trying to overcome the filibuster, and may prevent progress on voting rights, very sad indeed.

Foreign policy issues are rearing their ugly head, including new ones on Cuba and Haiti in just the last few weeks.

This along with the usual foreign policy challenges, with Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea.

Environmental progress has been outstanding, and while the unvaccinated remain a problem with the Delta Variant of COVID 19, and the unhelpful propaganda against vaccination by right wing media, it is still amazing how many Americans have already shown patriotism and common sense on this matter.

If only Joe Biden had the conditions of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933-1936 and Lyndon B. Johnson from 1964-1966, he would have been able to accomplish much more, but still there is optimism, and the hope is for greater progress in the next six months!

Infrastructure Bill Greatest Since Great Society Of Lyndon B. Johnson: But Will It Become Law?

The potential now exists for the passage of a Democratic Party massive infrastructure bill, which would be the greatest legislation since the Great Society of Lyndon B. Johnson nearly six decades ago.

Not only would the need for physical infrastructure (roads, bridges, tunnels, transit, broadband) be finally dealt with after decades of talk, but no action.

But also “human infrastructure”, including two years of “free” community college; two years of universal preschool education for three and four year olds; but also Medicare reforms, including dental, vision and hearing aids, and possibly lowering the age for Medicare to 60 from 65 would be part of the broader plan.

Additionally, giving middle and lower income parents monthly stipends for each child (additional child tax credits), and providing home care for seniors who need it, and support for those who needs young children to have care subsidized, so women can go back to work, as crucial for their family’s ability to thrive, would be included.

It would also provide paid family and medical leave.

This legislation would halve child poverty and spend $500 billion on “green” public works.

And it would not raise taxes for those earning less than $400,000 annually.

The question is whether this legislation can make it through “reconciliation”, and whether the physical infrastructure portion will be supported by enough Republicans.

Joe Biden And Infrastructure: Showing Proof Of Bipartisanship, But Also “Reconciliation” Tactic Being Used

This is a defining moment on the issue of infrastructure, as it appears that enough Republican Senators have agreed to back a $1 trillion plan on roads, bridges, railways, and broadband.

Clearly, the disaster in Surfside, Florida, where a condominium building collapsed, causing a major loss of life, and demonstrating the danger of global warming on buildings near waterways and coast lines, makes infrastructure projects, long needed, an urgent matter.

But additionally, there is a need for spending on “human infrastructure”, including child care, education, and health care, part of Joe Biden’s American Families Plan, which few if any Republicans will support.

So clearly Budget “Reconciliation”, where the 50 Democratic Senators plus Vice President Kamala Harris together will be enough to pass such larger spending priorities.

Certainly, the bipartisan deal is essential, but the Human “Infrastructure” in some form of legislation, is essential.

Political maneuvering and some compromises will be unavoidable to keep all Democrats in support of the broader legislation in some form.

“Reconciliation” May Be Only Way To Gain Any Biden Agenda, But It Is Limited Tactic With Senate Realities

“Reconciliation”, a tactic permitted by the Senate parliamentarian, to allow some bills to pass if 51 votes are gained, has led to the passage of the COVID 19 relief legislation in March, and it may be that it will be utilized to gain the passage of the Infrastructure bill, which has been unable to gain Republican support over the past two months of negotiation.

This Congress is the 4th time we have had an evenly divided US Senate, after the 47th Congress (1881-1883); the 83rd Congress (1953-1955); and the 107th Congress (2001-2003).

The tactic can be used only sparingly, but whether it can be employed for a multitude of other Joe Biden initiatives, including on voting rights, criminal justice reform, and health care and education advancements is doubtful.

There is the possibility, sadly, that Joe Biden may be stopped in making massive changes, similar to what Barack Obama faced in 2011-2017, and that is so infuriating!

And the danger that the party in the White House almost always loses seats and or control in the midterm elections, presents a real challenge to Democrats in 2022, when with two thirds of the Senate seats up for election in that year being Republican held seats, and at least five incumbent Republicans not running for reelection.

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.

Republicans And “Reconciliation”: The Truth!

Republicans are acting like hypocrites on the issue of using the “reconciliation” method to pass health care legislation. They claim that it is, as Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander states, a “kamikaze mission”.

This is irresponsible rhetoric, and based on lies! Alexander has voted for “reconciliation” five times in his years in the Senate. He has had a reputation of being a moderate, but based on this ridiculous statement, and his comments at the Health Care Summit last week, he has moved over to the far right!

The Republicans have used this 51 vote majority in the Senate sixteen times, compared to six times by Democrats.

One must remember that Republicans controlled Congress for twelve years, and it was certainly alright for them to overcome filibusters for massive tax cuts that bankrupted our national budget!

But now, for health care, they act like Puritans who have never utilized or believed in the tactic, and that is pure bull!

Senator Alexander and the whole Republican caucus in the Senate should be ashamed of themselves for being negative and obstructionist! The party is a shell of the old, traditional Republican party that once stood for some real principle, instead of willingness to exploit an issue for political gain and show no concern for the millions of Americans who have no, or inadequate health care!

“Reconciliation” And Health Care Legislation: Time For Action!

As the Health Care Summit is about to occur on Thursday, it is clear that the Obama Administration intends to use “reconciliation” if the Republicans refuse to budge on the issue, which is seen as extremely likely.

The statement by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell that such action would be “unprecedented” is pure propaganda, as it has been used under earlier Presidents.

But also research shows that the Children’s Health Care program and expansion of Medicaid to more children, and many other extensions of Medicare coverage have been brought about by “reconciliation” since the Reagan Administration onward.

So after the summit tomorrow, IF the GOP refuses to cooperate, it is time to follow that tactic, and if need be, use Vice President Joe Biden to break a tie, as Al Gore broke a tie on the Clinton economic plan in 1993, which led to the greatest period of economic expansion in US History in the 1990s.

Enough of bipartisanship, which requires both parties to cooperate! If the Republicans don’t, then do what must be done to extend health care to many millions of Americans who are entitled to have the same access to health care that Dick Cheney and Bob Dole are receiving right now!

The Senate Broken By The Filibuster: 290 Bills Passed House, Pending In Senate!

The US Senate is a very prestigious body, which has done great things and had great members in its 221 year history.

But now the Senate is an impediment like no other time in US History! While the filibuster tactic has been used in the past, it is totally out of control now, and has paralyzed the Senate!

The astounding fact is that the House of Representatives has passed 290 bills that are stuck in the Senate logjam! Of course, not all bills which pass the House are meant to be passed in the Senate. The Senate acts appropriately as the brakes on actions of the House.

But this is not just the application of “brakes”, but rather the total inability of the Senate to do anything of significance, due to opposition stubbornness and partisanship!

Since “reconciliation”–establishing a bare majority of 51 votes to get things done–has been utilized by President Bush to get his tax cuts through, and for President Clinton to use it for welfare reform legislation in the mid 1990s, there is absolutely no reason why it cannot be utilized now to get climate change, health care, bank regulation, and other essential legislation through the Senate!

Let the Senate majority do its will, and then, it is up to the people if they do not like what is done, to go ahead and take it out on the Democrats and put the GOP in power. But America should be governed by the rule of the majority, not the minority!

So reconciliation is what must be done, whether the Republican party likes it or not! It is time for action on those 290 bills pending!

The “Public Option” Returns As Health Costs Go Sky High

Just as the health insurance companies are calling for record increases in premiums from their subscribers, creating a major crisis for millions of Americans, the concept of a “public option” is being revived by the Obama White House and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and a growing number of Democratic Senators.

After a cautious approach and attempts to gain GOP votes in the Senate, which has totally failed, now the thought is that the record increases in health care premiums are motivating Democrats to use “reconciliation”, requiring only 51 votes, to pass such a plan.

One must be reminded how many times the Bush Administration used “reconciliation” to pass tax cuts and other initiatives, so there is nothing illegal about using that tactic. It is time to stop allowing obstructionists from passing what a majority in every poll indicates they want–health care with a public option.

Maybe, who knows, when health care passes, after the fact, we might have Republicans taking credit for it, as they have, hypocritically, taken credit for economic stimulus programs that they opposed! 🙂 LOL

“Reconciliation” And The Senate Finance Committee

A group of six members of the Senate Finance Committee, often called “The Gang of Six”, is trying to draw up a bill on health care that will be acceptable to the whole committee and to the Senate, when it returns in mid September.

The three Democrats in the group are Max Baucus of Montana (the chair of the committee), Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, and Kent Conrad of North Dakota.

The surprising news coming out is that Baucus and Bingaman are now willing to consider “reconciliation”, to support the passage of a “public option” by a 51 vote majority of the Senate, overcoming the danger of a filibuster.

So far, Kent Conrad has been reluctant to go that far, and has promoted non profit coops as an alternative, but it is seen as possible he might come over to the view of his two Democratic colleagues.

Were that to happen, it would be a major step forward toward adoption of a public option, even if not one GOP member in either house backs it.

While this is not the preferred way to get health care legislation through Congress, the refusal of Republicans to show any support for reform is forcing this possible direction on the debate.