Progressive dissatisfaction with Biden on the spending bills

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    • #457386
      Jim Lane
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 938

      There’s an interesting short piece (eight paragraphs) in today’s electoral-vote.com blog (link) about the doughnut-versus-hole issue. It includes quotations on both sides of the debate: Some people are disappointed that more progressive priorities won’t be passed, while others think that Biden did well to get as much as he did. The author agrees with the latter viewpoint. His conclusion: “The votes simply aren’t there now for an expansive agenda.”

      Does this merely show the utter perfidy and worthlessness of the corporatist Democratic Party? No, it shows that the Democratic Party is, as the cliche has it, a big tent. AOC has correctly pointed out that, in some countries, she and Joe Manchin wouldn’t be in the same party. The narrowness of the Democratic majorities in both chambers means that conservaDems like Manchin have an effective veto over legislation.

      The only alternative to “take what we can get” would be to expel Manchin from the party. Then he would become a Republican, Mitch McConnell would become Majority Leader, and nothing would get done. Granted, the Democratic Party would then, as a whole, be ideologically purer. That might please many on JPR (or at least slightly soften their animosity toward the party). The opposing viewpoint, held by the Biden-Schumer-Pelosi types, is that ideological purity is less important than effecting at least some gains for the country. That disagreement is likely to persist for the foreseeable future.

      There is of course the alternative of giving up on the Democratic Party altogether and going with a new party.  The Greens have been pursuing that course for more than a quarter-century now.  In the struggles in Congress to get paid leave, to act on climate change, to expand health care, to protect voting rights, etc., the result of those years of work on the minor-party strategy is that the Greens have contributed zero votes in the House and zero votes in the Senate.  Those of you who think that this is about to change, or that the Peoples Party will somehow succeed, well, you’re free to go right on hoping.  It’s a prediction that does not commend itself to my reasoning.

    • #457388
      Satan
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 5,728

      ….if crumbling roads & bridges are replaced by brand new TOLL roads & bridges, likely made from Chinese materials by scab labor…. who actually benefits from these things? The people who can’t afford the tolls and thus won’t be using the new roads & bridges? The people who can afford the tolls, but probably won’t get much use out of them before they fall apart again, due to inferior materials & construction practices.

      Infrastructure done right – the way the Democrat FDR & the Republican Eisenhower did it, would have been the obvious, sensible approach that any SANE person (regardless of political affiliation) would support. How does a Devil know this? Because such programs were enormously popular before. FDR got elected 4 times, and the Democrats ruled Congress up until 1994 (with a couple of minor shifts to the right which shifted back the next election – see Truman vs the “do nothing Republican congress”, for example)

      So really…. what good is a “democratic majority” (in name only) if they can’t even pass the type of legislation which has a proven track record of nearly 90 years??

      "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable". - John F. Kennedy

      • #457415
        Jim Lane
        Participant
        • Total Posts: 938

        @satan

        Until reading your post, I hadn’t heard anything about tolls. Do you have a link? What I find, in a very quick look, is that there’s a provision in the bill for limited federal funding for toll roads, apparently as an experiment because such funding would have to be approved by the Secretary of Transportation and couldn’t be approved for more than a fraction of the transportation funding.

        Furthermore, although for political purposes the Democrats touted this as an “infrastructure” bill and emphasized the popular roads-and-bridges stuff, the fact is that there’s a lot more to it. According to pages 3-4 of this link (a summary from Sen. Rob Portman, R-OH, though I would guess he got it from somewhere else, maybe the CBO), the funding for roads, bridges, and major projects is only about one-fifth of the total new spending. The bill includes billions for passenger and freight rail, public transit, rural broadband, water infrastructure, power and grid, addressing legacy pollution, and other things. None of these would involve highway tolls.

        Is the bill some kind of elitist plot? Look at the list of endorsing organizations (pages 8-9). Unsurprisingly, there are business groups, like the Chamber of Commerce. In addition, however, there’s support from organized labor (the AFL-CIO and other unions), the environmental movement (The Nature Conservancy), and public officials dealing with these problems on a daily basis (U.S. Conference of Mayors). I doubt that they’ve all been conned by the 1%ers.

        The bill is far from perfect. This was the bipartisan bill, crafted (after long negotiations) to attract enough Republican votes to break the filibuster by Ted Cruz and his ilk. It will do quite a bit of good, but additional progressive priorities will have to await the reconciliation bill. That bill is expected to attract no Republican votes, so it will need the unanimous support of the Democratic caucus in the Senate. Chuck Schumer is undoubtedly earning his pay these days.

    • #457391
      closeupready
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 2,989

      Both figuratively and literally. More later…

      The opinions and personal views expressed herein are solely those of the author, and should never be taken seriously.

    • #457392
      NV Wino
      Moderator
      • Total Posts: 8,802

      Sure, the democrats equal the big tent and herding cats, but strong leadership could actually herd those cats. Hate him all you want, but Mitch McConnell has molded his party into a force of nature. And they get things done. When not in power, they block the democrats at every turn. When in power, they pass legislation, lower taxes (for the rich), appoint judges and push forward their agenda. We may not like what they get done, but they are a well-oiled machine.

      Nancy “it’s off the table” Pelosi’s idea of leadership is removing stuff from the table. Schumer should be censuring his two malcontents instead of catering to them. And Biden is just a plain lost cause. Democrats are so busy compromising and being politically correct and “reaching across the aisle” that they never follow through on their campaign rhetoric, never take advantage of a majority (however small), never push through needed legislation, never push through judicial nominations. Never mind why they do this, just recognize that this is what the democratic, so-called, leadership does.

      “As we act, let us not become the evil that we deplore.” Barbara Lee
      “Politicians and pro athletes: The only people who still get paid when they lose.” William Rivers Pitt

      • #457420
        Jim Lane
        Participant
        • Total Posts: 938

        @nvwino

        As a generalization, you’re correct that the Republicans in Congress are more likely to act in lockstep. That may be partly a matter of McConnell’s skills. A more important factor is that conservatives are temperamentally more disposed to discipline and order, up to and including outright authoritarianism.

        Even given that, however, Republican unity isn’t as absolute as you suggest. Note that, in 2017, the GOP held the trifecta – the White House plus majorities in the House and in the Senate. Many of those officeholders had campaigned on repealing Obamacare. Nevertheless, the repeal vote failed. The Republicans had the same problem that the Democrats do now: With a majority but only a narrow one, a few defections can sink a bill. That’s why we still have Obamacare.

        You make a specific suggestion: “Schumer should be censuring his two malcontents….” Would you elaborate on that? Schumer introduces a motion to censure Sinema and Manchin. Even if the two targets recuse themselves, all the Republicans vote Nay, and the censure fails by 48-50. Then what happens? The failed censure vote somehow enacts a $15 federal minimum wage? Or maybe the vote succeeds because a few mischief-making Republicans vote for it. It’s silly to think that Sinema and Manchin would respond by coming crawling to Schumer and promising to do whatever he wanted if only he would lift this horrible censure. They wouldn’t care. If he decided to get really tough, and bounce them from their committee assignments, they could get back on the committees simply by switching to caucusing with the GOP. Even one of them switching makes McConnell the Majority Leader again. He’d be happy to restore Manchin as Chair of the Energy Committee, along with removing Bernie as Chair of the Budget Committee, and, in general, turning every committee over to die-hard right-wing nut jobs.

        To take just one other example, you complain that the Democrats “never push through judicial nominations….” That’s an area where the Republicans can’t filibuster, so it’s a better test of Democratic leadership. The record refutes your criticism:

        But the Biden confirmation numbers for federal district and appeals court justices are stark. Twenty-eight Biden nominees have been confirmed by the Senate as of Nov. 3, whereas Trump only had 10 confirmations to lower courts by the same period in 2017.

        . . . .

        The Senate has confirmed nine appellate court judges during Biden’s first year, compared to six judges during Trump’s first year in office.

        . . . .

        Biden is notably setting record confirmations in district court judges, who make initial rulings in criminal prosecutions and civil litigation and oversee trials. The Senate has confirmed 19 Biden federal district court nominees, compared to four for Trump during a similar time frame. Of the six most recent presidents, Ronald Reagan earned the second-highest number of district court nominations at 16 within his first year, according to data from the Federal Judicial Center. (Link)

        Legislation presents more difficulties. To say “The Democrats have the majority so they can do whatever they want” is far too simplistic. There is no single entity “the Democrats” that acts as a monolith. The reality is much more complicated.

        • #457428
          NV Wino
          Moderator
          • Total Posts: 8,802

          However, strong (if not good) leadership can overcome those obstacles. Look at what the republicans are doing to Mary Cheney for her defection. Yes, the two miscreants may defect to the GOP, but so be it. Nothing is getting done anyway. Pull in better dem candidates to run against them next time.

          As far as judges go, I believe that Trump simply didn’t nominate them. Could be wrong about that, though. But many department heads were left vacant or departments run by acting heads because Trump didn’t bother to appoint heads. But, let’s look at the Supreme Court. The republicans pushed through two horrible nominees. The democrats did virtually nothing to stop them, while the republicans were able to stop Obama’s, very conservative, nominee.

          All this amounts to a failure of leadership. The republicans plan 30 to 40 years to the future. The democrats simply react rather than planning ahead.

          “As we act, let us not become the evil that we deplore.” Barbara Lee
          “Politicians and pro athletes: The only people who still get paid when they lose.” William Rivers Pitt

          • #457476
            Jim Lane
            Participant
            • Total Posts: 938

            @nvwino

            You write, “Look at what the republicans are doing to Mary Cheney for her defection.” What some Republicans are trying to do to Liz Cheney is to primary her. On the Democratic side, a similar example would be Dan Lipinski, who I think was alone in the Democratic caucus in the House in opposing reproductive rights. Progressives united behind a primary challenger and defeated him. He’s no longer in the House. Progressives in that district didn’t sit around grousing about a duopoly and didn’t stomp off to engage in the ego trip of totally ineffective minor-party politics. They rolled up their sleeves and did a lot of actual work. Republican right-wingers are also entitled to primary people they don’t like. That’s how modern political parties work, duh.

            You write that you wouldn’t care if Sinema and Manchin switched parties, because “Nothing is getting done anyway.” My first response to you noted Biden’s record-setting success in getting judges confirmed (confirmed to lifetime appointments, I should add). If McConnell were Majority Leader, he could prevent every one of those nominations from coming to a vote. There would also be no chance of a reconciliation bill with many gains for the left. It might or might not yet happen, and in the best-case scenario it still won’t be perfect, but at least we have a chance.

            Your suggestion for dealing with Sinema and Manchin is “Pull in better dem candidates to run against them next time.” In 2018, each of them had a more progressive opponent in the primary, but each of those progressives lost. For example, in West Virginia, the Democratic nominee is picked by the West Virginians who vote in the Democratic primary. Manchin won his primary by 69.9% to 30.1%. Donald Trump carried West Virginia by 68.5% to 26.4% in 2016 and then by 68.6% to 29.7% in 2020. But, yeah, it should have occurred to “the Democrats” to find a better candidate who could somehow beat Manchin in the primary and then win this conservative state in the general election, presumably because West Virginia is just filled with voters who think Bernie Sanders is too far to the right.

            You write, “As far as judges go, I believe that Trump simply didn’t nominate them.” My previous post noted that, looking at judicial confirmations in the first year of the six most recent Presidents, Biden had gotten the most judges confirmed. The vaunted Great Communicator, Ronald Reagan, is in second place. This goes beyond Trump’s ineptitude. Judicial nominations can’t be filibustered and the Democrats are getting it done.

            You write:

            But, let’s look at the Supreme Court. The republicans pushed through two horrible nominees. The democrats did virtually nothing to stop them, while the republicans were able to stop Obama’s, very conservative, nominee.

            Don’t numbers mean anything to anyone? I’ve previously recited the facts about Supreme Court nominations, but it’s still an article of faith on JPR that the Democrats were totally at fault. Back here in the real world: The Republicans were able to stop Obama’s nominee because  Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to let the nomination come to a vote. If you had a brilliant plan by which Minority Leader Chuck Schumer could have forced a vote, and could then have gotten Garland confirmed despite the Nay votes of the 52 Republican Senators, I’m sure Schumer would have loved to hear it. The next year, the Republicans were able to confirm Trump’s nominees because they still had the majority in the Senate. IIRC, every single Democrat voted against confirming Barrett, and almost all voted against Gorsuch and Kavanaugh. (I’m not going to bother checking the details because I realize most people here don’t care.) So what, exactly, were the Democrats supposed to do? Stage a hunger strike? You credit the Republicans with planning 30 to 40 years ahead, so if the Democrats, during the Reagan administration, had started planning for what to do if Donald Trump became President, they could have somehow defeated his nominees while being in the minority? I await elaboration on the specifics of what those plans would have been.

    • #457393
      mrdmk
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 3,901

      So can anyone else, but it is not just Joe Manchin. It is the Democratic Leadership we are talking about here, which is Joe Biden. Biden was never, nor ever claimed to be, a shinning symbol of progressivism. Quite the opposite, Biden many times called out open war on progressive policies and done so with impunity.

      Just consider this, Senator Kyrsten Sinema was a member of the Green Party. During her time in the Green Party, nothing got done, according to the O.P.’s claim. So was Kyrsten Sinema membership to the Green Party a contribution or a hindrance to the Party’s cause? Are there other Kyrsten Sinemas in the Green Party?

      Now if the so-called progressives of the Democratic Party did not fold like cheap cardboard cutouts of themselves, for the most part, we would not be having this discussion. But whenever events are coming to a head, and there maybe some thin ice ahead, these so-called progressive Democrats throw their collective hands in the air and say, “we cannot do it!”

      This whole argument ‘we do not have the votes’ by the Democrats is an excuse for breaking campaign promises. As for look at this person here while doing do something over there is nothing but a smokescreen. The real rigging of elections is the fact that the Democrats and the Republicans have made it next to impossible for another political party to attain a foothold of power. So instead, we get a created for TV media circus of the Democrats and Republicans are the shit. Its a big scam put forth by the powers that be.

      If you cannot dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit WC Fields

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      • #457550
        Jim Lane
        Participant
        • Total Posts: 938

        @mrdmk

        You write, “Biden was never, nor ever claimed to be, a shinning symbol of progressivism.” I voted for Bernie in the primary. By November, there was no shining symbol of progressivism who had the slightest chance of becoming President. The White House would go to either a fairly typical centrist politician or an unstable right-wing narcissist whose authoritarianism posed a real threat to the Constitution. Neither candidate was a shining symbol of progressivism but one was much better than the other.

        You write:

        Just consider this, Senator Kyrsten Sinema was a member of the Green Party. During her time in the Green Party, nothing got done, according to the O.P.’s claim. So was Kyrsten Sinema membership to the Green Party a contribution or a hindrance to the Party’s cause? Are there other Kyrsten Sinemas in the Green Party?

        I’m not clear where you’re going with this. My claim in the O.P. had nothing to do with Sinema personally. What I pointed out was that the Green Party had achieved virtually no electoral success in many years of trying. It has provided zero votes in Congress for any progressive policy (or against any bad policy). As to your questions about the specifics of Sinema’s involvement with the Greens, I have no idea what the answers are.

        You write:

        Now if the so-called progressives of the Democratic Party did not fold like cheap cardboard cutouts of themselves, for the most part, we would not be having this discussion.

        Here we are again, the view so common on JPR. All the progressives had to do was to be louder or more obstinate or something (specifics as to the plan usually being vague) and this would somehow make a huge difference (specifics about the mechanism also being vague). To take one example, should progressives have refused to vote for Obamacare because it wasn’t Medicare for All? And that would have somehow forced the enactment of Medicare for All, a policy that was and is opposed by majorities in both the House and the Senate? It’s true that the Democratic majorities are so narrow that a few progressives, by joining with the Republicans in opposition, could kill any bill. How killing a bill that does some good would thereby lead to a bill that does a lot of good is where the analysis breaks down.

        You write, “This whole argument ‘we do not have the votes’ by the Democrats is an excuse for breaking campaign promises.” But isn’t that the same pathetic “excuse” that the Greens use? They haven’t enacted any of their campaign promises. I suppose they’ll say that they don’t have the votes. Well, that’s true, they don’t. Remember, though, that this unitary “the Democrats” doesn’t exist. If 50 Republican Senators plus Joe Manchin oppose a policy, then it doesn’t have a majority, even if Manchin has a (D) after his name. (Incidentally, Manchin and several other Democrats never made a campaign promise to provide Medicare for All or a $15 federal minimum wage or the like. As you point out, Biden’s campaign promises fell far short of what most of us would have wanted.)

        You write, “The real rigging of elections is the fact that the Democrats and the Republicans have made it next to impossible for another political party to attain a foothold of power.” As usual, it’s more complicated. The entrenchment of the two-party system flows partly from the electoral structure (single-member districts with plurality election being by far the most common rule), partly from the growing importance of money in politics (because voters respond to advertising and advertising is expensive), partly from the inertia of millions of people who don’t pay much attention to politics, and, yes, partly to deliberate choices by the major parties.

        Minor parties would have more of a chance if we had multi-member districts with proportional representation. That change, however, will not happen in the foreseeable future. In the meantime, there are real people with real problems. Government can do some good by addressing those problems now, without waiting for a wholesale political revolution and even if the votes aren’t there for a perfect solution.

    • #457408
      djean111
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 6,995

      and abandon that silly hope thing.  Nope.

      America is not a country, it's just a business. (Brad Pitt, Killing Them Softly)

      Everything I post is just my opinion, and, honestly, I would love to be wrong.

      "black flag" is an inadvertent mash-up of black ops and false flag. . I think it is accurate, and I will keep it. Thanks to those who pointed it out!

      • #457472
        Jim Lane
        Participant
        • Total Posts: 938

        @djean111

        I have never advocated “Vote blue no matter who.”  In fact, on JPR I’ve expressly stated that I disagree with that approach.

        You want to argue with the VBNMW types, but you can’t or won’t argue on DU, where they actually exist.  So you choose instead to ignore the facts.

        Much easier to throw personal invective, even if totally unfounded, than to present anything substantive about what I actually wrote.  Fine, your choice.  Have fun in your little mental playpen.

    • #457411
      Junker
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 359
    • #457414
      Earthartist
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 1,733

      Ah the wonders of the Democratic Party and the endless blather of can’t we all work together to keep the billy boy clintons obummers and of course Alzheimer’s patients leading the party to totally deconstruction of  the usa, with their fake news and their pretend love of the people. The reason trump won is the people got sick of the BS and decided to vote for someone who they already knew was crazy.  Biden didn’t win he was placed when the fear of sanders was just to much for the oligarchs.   Now the democrats are back to how only they can save us, what an absolute farce. Bill clinton and the Ds Obummer, and biden and their party have done as much if not more damage to the country and the world as raygun and bush and that is one giant cluster fuck

      Earthartist

    • #457416
      closeupready
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 2,989

      She’s a rookie, and she’s playing hardball with some very seasoned veterans.

      When she succeeds in getting them to compromise, it’s a good bet that she’s actually doing exactly what the oligarchs want, and getting fat campaign donations/501(c)(3) slush funds ‘coincidentally-on-purpose’.

      When she pipes down and gets in line, the converse – her donations are drying up. All of which applies to every member of the Squad, and any other rookie in Congress.

      Lost in all of this Washington gamesmanship is that the American people are suffering as a direct result. They game the nominations, they game their votes, they game congressional districts, press coverage … there is absolutely NOTHING that they don’t corrupt as a means of glorifying themselves, and extending their power and reach.

      So yeah, go ahead and vote for one of the two branches of the oligarchs’ parties – the oligarchs will always win, you will always lose. Vote 3rd Party, and you will lose initially, but win in the long term.

      The opinions and personal views expressed herein are solely those of the author, and should never be taken seriously.

    • #457513
      doh1304
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 1,787

      if you fight for something that’s for clearly the general good, even if – when – you’re beaten by corruption you will get some “small” concessions designed to make the corrupt appear “moderate” or delay a comeback or some such reason, but always you start the next fight a step ahead of your previous start. But if you don’t fight the corrupt cabal (they always are a cabal) expands and you start a step behind.  Capitulation never works.

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