Saturday, November 27

Progressives reeling after new blow from moderates to spending package

(CNN) — Another liberal dream was sacrificed for the sake of saving Joe Biden’s presidency.

Democrats cut paid family leave from their vast social safety net program on Wednesday in another handover to Senate moderates, dealing a devastating blow to progressives in the House of Representatives, not to mention millions of Americans. they must choose between their jobs and caring for newborns or elderly relatives.

The latest jolt to the broad bill that once led to comparisons to the New Deal, of Franklin Roosevelt, followed the removal of climate measures and free community colleges, two campaign priorities for Biden, last year, and came as negotiations dragged on in an increasingly frantic fashion.

Desperate for a victory before embarking on a critical trip abroad, Biden plans to visit the meeting of the Democratic House of Representatives caucus Thursday morning to plead with progressives to pass a parallel bipartisan infrastructure bill that they’ve been leveraging their spending bill, which set out to transform health care, home care for the sick and elderly, the fight against climate change, and ease the plight of American workers.

But Representative Pramila Jayapal, who chairs the progressive caucus in Congress, questioned whether it made any sense for Biden to run if he couldn’t bring a solid framework for the spending plan that the Senate would stick with.

“If there is no agreement, which is what I’m still hearing … then I’m not sure what the president is going to present to us,” Jayapal told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Wednesday night.

The Washington state Democrat’s comment was a sign that progressives in the House of Representatives are unwilling to budge.

But it left two fundamental questions that are now critical to the future of Biden’s agenda. First, will the brutal downsizing of the social safety net plan, all in an effort to appease two Senate moderates, further undermine support for passing it among the large block of House progressives? His are crucial votes in a chamber that Democrats narrowly control.

And will what is now a greatly diminished measure disappoint both Democratic-based voters and independents so much that it will not have the significant political impact the party needs to avoid a Republican defeat in next fall’s midterm elections? One thing’s for sure: If progressives ultimately don’t come on board, even if they aren’t satisfied with the commitments they made to pass the package in the Senate, they could inflict great damage on Biden’s already shaky presidency.

The loss of paid family leave was the latest extreme disappointment for Liberal Democrats desperate to harness what could be a brief grip on power to fundamentally reshape an economy that currently leans toward the rich. His sudden disappearance left another strong impression that Biden and his Democratic Party are in disarray in Washington after months of being unable to move their agenda. And there came a day when various lawmakers came up with grieving ways to pay for the entire measure, some of which were quickly rejected, that were a lot like throwing spaghetti at a wall in a desperate attempt to get something, anything past.

Colleagues are “mad” at Manchin

The removal of the family leave was the latest dramatic turn in a bitter and endless bargaining process primarily between House progressives and Democratic Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

Manchin’s refusal to compromise on paid family leave caused extreme frustration among his fellow Democrats. “People are angry that he wants to get out [del paquete] paid family leave, “one senator told CNN’s Manu Raju. Manchin, however, said such a fundamental change in US social policy should not pass in an already huge spending bill that lawmakers are negotiating and expecting to go through a budget process known as reconciliation.

“To expand social programs when you have trust funds that are not solvent, they are becoming insolvent. I can’t explain that. It doesn’t make sense to me,” Manchin told reporters.

But Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, who wrote much of a $ 3.5 trillion spending plan and which now appears to end much closer to Manchin’s $ 1.5 trillion ceiling, is each increasingly dissatisfied with his colleagues.

“The problem is with the members here who, although they are very few in number, they are a significant minority, they think they have the right to determine what the rest of Congress should be doing,” Sanders said.

“The minority should not dictate to the majority.”

The news that paid family leave is being removed from the bill was greeted with dismay by progressive activists outside of Congress. Molly Day, executive director of Paid Leave for America, called the news “outrageous and embarrassing.”

“A budget agreement that does not include paid permits fails working families and will not allow us to rebuild better,” Day said in a statement.

While most of the Democratic Senate agreed with Biden’s broader earlier plans, Manchin and Sinema have extraordinary power as the 50-50 split in the Upper House means that Biden needs both of his votes.

But to get them to join in, progressives have had to see a succession of their priorities scrapped, including an effort to roll back former President Donald Trump’s tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. A $ 150 billion program to remove carbon fuels from utility companies also disappeared. As is the promise of a free community college that Biden touted in the campaign and is one of his most treasured propositions.

Another priority, advanced by Sanders, which includes vision, dental and hearing coverage for Medicare beneficiaries, may also be on the chopping block.

Liberal dreams evaporate

Even before the latest negotiations on the spending bill, progressives had seen many of their hopes for Biden’s term disappear.

A bipartisan push for police reform in the wake of George Floyd’s assassination failed. Several moderate Democrats are reluctant to change the obstruction rules to pass a review of voting rights and elections to respond to undemocratic takeovers in Republican-led states that will facilitate election interference. Biden also failed in an earlier effort to raise the federal minimum wage to $ 15 an hour.

These broken dreams do not take into account the fact that Biden’s spending plan, if finally approved, will include some of the most important social and climate reforms in decades. They include free universal preschool, which could help millions of children and parents. Expanded Affordable Care Act subsidies and housing subsidies seem likely to survive. Like an extension of a child tax credit that Democrats say lifted millions out of poverty, though a single year of additional funding pales in comparison to what progressives wanted. And despite the loss of the green energy plan that coal state senator Manchin opposed, $ 500 billion is included in climate change spending.

In essence, progressives will be forced to make a decision faced by political leaders of all stripes for eons: Do they swallow their disappointment at not getting everything they want to lock themselves into real, albeit more incremental, change?

Biden’s atrocious experience in trying to sign his agenda into law underscores that while Democrats have a technical majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris’s swing vote, they do not effectively enjoy a stable ruling majority. This is because the blue state legislators’ wish list needs to be passed with two senators: Manchin, whose home state voted overwhelmingly for Trump, and Sinema, who hails from a violet battlefield and has an idiosyncratic approach and something. mysterious to legislate. However, the consequences of failing to act on Biden’s agenda, even if it seems to diminish day by day, are daunting.

If Democrats cannot demonstrate to their own voters that they can wield the power they were given in 2020 to forge meaningful change, their hopes for strong grassroots turnout in next year’s midterm elections could be dashed.

Already, failing to pass Biden’s priorities has caused a major headache for Democratic candidate for Governor Terry McAuliffe in Virginia, who is battling liberal apathy just one year after Biden won his state by 10 points. .

A fractured agenda would launch the Biden administration into a deep political crisis at a time when the president’s approval ratings are declining due to a prolonged pandemic, high gas prices, inflation, and a wave of undocumented immigrants at the border. , which give Republicans ammunition by 2022.

Assuming some kind of bill finally passes, it will burden progressives with the paradoxical task of selling their voters a measure they seem to increasingly despise. But if he fails to convince his voters of the historic nature of the measure, he will risk losing even his narrow majority in next year’s midterm elections.

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