Democrats fight in Washington while Americans fight

Another day of missed deadlines, political malpractice and exhausted presidential authority on Capitol Hill ended with Joe Biden’s punch on infrastructure and social spending stalled yet again. Even after Biden said his presidency was on the line and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned lawmakers not to “embarrass” him as he left on a big trip abroad, the Progressives have consistently refused to back a bipartisan infrastructure bill that they use as leverage to get the best possible terms in a watered-down but still huge social spending plan.

While the president the Americans elected to solve their problems struggles to impose a massive agenda on tiny governing majorities, the difficult situation in the country – which has contributed to a drop in his approval rating over the course of the year summer – continues to deteriorate.

Gasoline prices, one of the most visceral indicators of prosperity for Americans, have averaged $ 3.40 per gallon, according to the American Automobile Association, and are much higher in some states. Not all of these issues are Biden’s fault and some are due to unique factors related to the pandemic and its impact on the global economy. But there are few signs the president has quick answers to these chronic economic problems as he struggles to embrace a more fundamental overhaul of the economy to help working people.
At a CNN town hall last week, for example, Biden admitted that high gas prices would not start to fall until next year. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg recently told CNN that supply chain issues that could mar Christmas shopping and drive up prices will also persist into 2022.

This split-screen moment threatens to give Republicans an opening – and an opportunity to craft a political message that can pull them off the defensive in the face of ex-President Donald Trump’s headaches over the 2020 election.

“You’d think the President and Congressional Democrats would avoid further sabotaging the U.S. economy. But that’s exactly what this proposal does,” GOP Representative Kevin Brady of Texas said on Thursday, attacking a spending bill that he calls a huge Democratic tax. and the madness of spending.

Attacks like this are why Biden consistently calls the $ 1 trillion infrastructure plan and larger spending plan, reduced by moderate Senate Democrats to $ 1.75 billion, as huge programs. jobs that will affect almost all citizens. “We were putting hard-working Americans to work upgrading our infrastructure, good union jobs with running wages; jobs you can raise a family on, as my dad would say,” Biden said Thursday.

“You could have a bit of a break; jobs that cannot be outsourced; jobs that replace lead water pipes so families can drink clean water, improve the health of our children and put plumbers and pipe fitters to work, ”the president said after visiting Capitol Hill with a call to action that failed to break the deadlock.

Changing millions of lives

There is no doubt that if passed, the social spending program, which makes housing, education, health care and home care more affordable, has the potential to change millions of lives. Climate proposals could spark a new green economy and help save the planet.

Billionaires' wealth soared 70% during the pandemic.  This is one of the reasons Democrats wanted to tax them.

And Biden will likely end up getting his victory lap in Washington. Its head of domestic policy, Susan Rice, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Thursday that the White House was “very confident” that a framework accepted by House progressives would be the basis for the spending bill that could now be adopted by both chambers. The two recalcitrant moderate Democrats, West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema, have yet to publicly and wholeheartedly approve the framework.

The question now, after another missed deadline, is when the situation will change. Over the past few days, the spectacle of Democrats dropping multi-billion dollar programs and hastily trying to find new ways to fund the bill has left an impression of chaos that does little to improve the reputation of one of the biggest social spending in generations. .

The longer the stalemate persists, the greater the risk that moderate Democrats in the Senate will be cold-eyed. Or that progressives will degrade over a framework for a deal that cuts many of their favorite programs, including paid family time off and free community college.

Biden’s departure for the G20 summit in Italy and the United Nations climate conference in Scotland has been set by Democratic leaders as the latest deadline to pass the infrastructure and spending bills. Thursday also became the latest must-see date, reflecting a growing White House habit of setting deadlines that are missed and undermining the president’s credibility.

In the wake of the latest setback, Biden showed up in Rome looking like a president who can’t tidy his own house before meeting with world leaders to reaffirm American leadership. Biden had particularly wanted climate programs in the spending bill sent to his office before he left, to pressure other countries to significantly reduce carbon emissions at the climate summit.

Progressives in shock after moderates hit spending bill again

Progressives believe the social spending bill, which provides universal preschool care, home health care for the sick and the elderly, and $ 500 billion in spending to fight climate change, is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reform the economy to ease the burden on American workers.

So their intransigence – and their willingness to use their newfound power in the House – is understandable. But there is a growing risk that the torturous process of passing the legislation will diminish the political impact the president can expect once it is passed. Some Democratic strategists want the party to bank on Biden’s double wins now, in order to avoid any further accidents with the legislation.

‘This is what I ran on’

The president himself argued to progressives on Thursday that there is no such thing as a perfect bill. His own credibility is at stake because he promised Americans that he could unite rival parties and make deals to help workers. While progressives obsess over the spending plan, more moderate Democrats in the House are extremely frustrated that a package of infrastructure they see as essential to their re-election results has been frozen for weeks.

New Jersey Rep. Tom Malinowski, whose seat is on the GOP’s target list for next year, has lashed out at progressives after another failure to pass the bill.

“It is frustrating for many of us that we are now in a game of ‘who comes first’ when all parties seem to agree on substance.… The country has begged for this, my constituents have begged for that. “

Biden had already tried to make progressives understand the need to act quickly.

“We’ve spent hours and hours and hours for months and months working on this,” Biden told Democratic lawmakers Thursday. “No one got everything they wanted, including me, but that’s the compromise. It’s the consensus. And that’s what I ran for.” If the bills never pass, Biden’s already damaged reputation for competence would take a serious hit and Democrats would have little to do in 2022. But there is no guarantee that even if the two pieces of legislation become law, they will deliver a huge political dividend for the president.

Senate Democrats Work on Medicaid Compromise to Cover People with Coverage Gaps with Obamacare Plans

Large bills that spend on social programs often take years to materialize and become political assets – like the Affordable Care Act of former President Barack Obama, for example. The risk is that the public will see Congress spend billions of dollars without noticing a corresponding improvement in their lives. For Democrats, it’s a headache as they approach a year in which history suggests the party of their first term as president will be battered.

The failure to pass the infrastructure bill, in particular, may have already dealt a heavy blow to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, who is locked in a neck-and-neck battle with his nemesis. Republican in Virginia, despite Biden winning there last year. of 10 points. McAuliffe’s main problem is the apathy of grassroots voters in the suburbs. Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin’s message about economic growth, lowering taxes and spending on education resonates in this critical battlefield that will decide next week’s election. Thursday’s grim economic news gave him another weapon as he headed for one last campaign swing of the weekend.

But Progressive Democrats, after refusing to let the infrastructure bill pass on Thursday before getting legislation on the framework of the spending bill signed by Manchin and Sinema, insist the delay in the Biden’s agenda vote only makes the final package more impressive.

“We will vote on these two bills together and the president can achieve the victory he deserves as chief negotiator, bringing together all parts of the party,” said Representative Pramila Jayapal, chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said Thursday at CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

“But more importantly, we will bring about the transformative changes that they and all of us have made for the American people that will transform people’s lives.”

Manu Raju contributed to this story.

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