This time I’ve got my fingers crossed that it will finally happen, but . . . I fear the Democrats’ failure to pass the president’s agenda, the “Build Back Better Act,” in anything resembling its original form has turned into a marathon demonstration of government’s inability to solve people’s problems. I’m sorry if I’m repeating myself, but the Democrats are verging on self-parody, a 24/7 ad campaign on behalf of Trumpism and autocracy. Watching them in action these past months, one can understand the appeal of autocratic governments around the world—and that’s a pretty sad commentary.
Surely I’m not the only one troubled by how the “sausage making” increasingly seems like a lack of credibility on the part of Democrats. How can so many programs initially touted as crucial to the country’s welfare be cut or eliminated from the Act? The president, for example, strongly advocated tax increases for wealthy individuals and large corporations, what he termed “paying their fair share,” but it now appears they won’t be included. Instead, we’re hearing Speaker Pelosi’s bizarre schemes—downright verbal contortions!—to hide the costs of multi-billion dollar programs. If I wasn’t such a strong advocate for just about everything contained in the president’s agenda, I would suspect the “do-nothing Republicans” are right this time around: none of it is necessary. And that’s another really sad commentary.
The president fancies himself an expert in the art of compromise (sausage making) based on his 36 years in the Senate, but often appears to lack a sincere commitment to his proposals. (You don’t like that, how about this?) Is it me, or would it be nice to see him go to the mat for what he believes in for a change? Despite many well-documented mistakes along the way, Biden’s fondness for compromise certainly worked out for him during the course of his political career—the man had one of the longest Senate careers in U.S. history, was twice elected vice-president before becoming president—but it would be a shame if his luck runs out now, when neither he nor our beleaguered country can afford to fail.
You Don’t Like This, How About That?
As someone who would love to see the president’s agenda succeed, it feels like a nightmare that won’t end. The Democrats’ endless missed deadlines are becoming a laughingstock. How many times can they announce a “framework” only to have it disappear? How many times can they be close to reaching a deal and have it fall apart? How much can they blame on Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema? Too many Democrats sound like broken records making promises they can’t keep. If the country had a dollar for every time it was reported “a deal is expected by tonight” or “this week is critical for Biden’s agenda” we could probably fund the progressive’s original six trillion budget!
In the meantime, the Democrats passionately expound on the threat to our democracy posed by Trump and his Republican followers across the country but seem to have forgotten about the “Freedom to Vote Act,” despite the fact that it’s failing to pass would likely spell the end of many of their careers in 2022. The January 6 select committee continues its work, but too many Democratic lawmakers seem peculiarly oblivious to just how close they came to being killed that terrible day. I hope I’m wrong, but I worry there will be more events of the sort that transpired on January 6, and neither the Democratic Party nor the country as a whole will be any better equipped to withstand them.