Sometimes, when watching Congress in action, I can’t decide whether to laugh, cry or check myself into an insane asylum.
Not all lawmakers are political hacks, quacks and corporate toadies — but that contingent does seem to dominate. Most infuriating is that while purporting to represent the people, Congress routinely does what the American majority does not want done and fails to do what people do want. Take a peek at the cuts Congress is making to Joe Biden’s landmark infrastructure proposals.
This is a monumental, long-overdue undertaking to reinvest in America’s physical house and social underpinnings (everything from roads and broadband networks to child care and paid family leave). The package would deliver real, tangible benefits across our nation, especially for low- and middle-income families, so it is enormously popular. Yet, when the first half of the plan recently came to a vote in the House, Republicans turned it into a partisan mudwrestling show, loudly voting “NO” on such obvious needs as fixing decrepit bridges, providing clean tap water in every community and opening preschool education programs to all 3- and 4-year-olds.
Cynical Republican gamesmanship aside, even more infuriating is the clique of self-described “moderate” Democrats who pose as champions of workaday Americans, but constantly scuttle public policies that would make their lives better. For example, the GOP and corporate Democrats have jointly demanded a trillion-dollar “compromise” in Biden’s national investment plans. What’s being compromised? Not proposals to fund the corporate wish list, but long-postponed needs of everyday Americans, including home health care, free community college, affordable housing, wage hikes, environmental justice, etc.
The wealthy and their political enablers complain that America can’t afford such projects. But, hello — these aren’t “projects,” they’re people!
And about those corporate Democrats...
When it comes to Joe Biden’s package of FDRish proposals, you expect to hear the small thinkers and servants of the plutocratic order screeching “Too big!” and you’d be shocked if you didn’t hear “Too costly, and … well, too democratic!” from the anti-everything Republicans — but these are Democrats!
Well, sort of. They’re Chicken Little Democrats, a subset whose members fastidiously call themselves middle-of-the-road moderates. Actually, though, you can almost always find them hugging the right-hand lane, clucking that the Party of the People is scaring the people with policies that — get this — directly benefit the people.
This was their excuse when one of their own political adherents, Terry McAuliffe, recently lost the Virginia gubernatorial election. It’s their fault, cried the mods, pointing their blamethrowers at the party’s progressive forces, claiming that poor Terry lost because progressives refused conservative demands to slash key democratic reforms from Biden’s infrastructure bill. They claimed that cutting the bill’s proposals to raise wages, lower drug prices, etc. would’ve made it more acceptable to Virginians. As one Washington political columnist wailed, “Had congressional Democrats given voters a reason to turn out, that could well have made the difference.”
But wait — isn’t it the job of the candidate to motivate voters? McAuliffe, a lackluster peer of the business-as-usual Washington power structure, ran a lousy campaign, basically assailing his own Republican opponent for being a less blustery political clone of Donald Trump. True, but besides not being Trump, what was Terry offering to grassroots families to excite them about voting for him?
And guess what would’ve been a winning issue for him? That big progressive version of Biden’s infrastructure bill! It happens to be very popular among the voters McAuliffe needed.