While a great deal of our attention has rightfully been focused on the Republican Party’s relentless obstructionism, selfish self-sabotage by the Democratic Party’s own members is quickly emerging as serious a threat to the Biden administration’s agenda as the Republican opposition is.
In the Senate, conservative “Democrats” like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Sen. Krysten Sinema (D-AZ) successfully worked to block the addition of a $15 minimum wage in the recent blockbuster coronavirus relief bill and hold their entire party’s platform hostage with their refusal to abolish the filibuster. Now the head of the DCCC is publicly moving to gut President Biden’s ambitious infrastructure bill, fretting over the tax hikes on corporations and the wealthy and warning that the tax hikes could imperil the Democrats’ slim House majority in 2022.
Jeff Stein and Tyler Page at the Washington Post report that “Pockets of skepticism have emerged within Biden’s party over White House plans to raise the corporate tax rate, revamp the international tax system and double tax rates on wealthy investors, among other measures critical to the administration’s plans…Rep. Sean Maloney (D-N.Y.), chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee responsible for party fundraising, has privately warned the tax plans could hurt vulnerable House Democrats up for reelection in 2022, said two people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters said.”
President Biden has proposed a $2.3 trillion infrastructure rejuvenation program that would entirely be paid for by increasing taxes on the wealthy and on corporations, a huge step towards reversing the monumental hole in the budget that was made by Donald Trump’s 2017 tax cuts. He and his team are well aware of the possibility of political backlash from such an expensive bill — which is why they’ve explicitly designed it to be paid for entirely with tax hikes.
But that’s not enough for the fiscal hawks. The biggest issues that certain Democrats have with the plan is the raising of the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%, the doubling of the capital gains tax for millionaires, the effect of the heir tax on farming, and the lack of a SALT (state and local tax deduction) tax repeal.
But given what we know about how the public feels about these tax increases, it’s reasonable to wonder what the Democrats are really worried about — their seats, or the cushy corporate jobs they’re looking forward to receiving once they walk through the golden revolving door after running a lackluster campaign and getting knocked out of office by a Trump-supporting hot-tub salesman.
Taking a look at the polling would indicate that once again, centrist Democrats are entirely out of touch with what voters actually want. A recent Quinnipiac poll showed that voters liked Biden’s infrastructure plan even more after they were told it was paid with corporate tax hikes.
The new Quinnipiac Poll shows something that’s popped up in other surveys: Biden’s infrastructure plan becomes MORE popular after voters are told it’s paid for with corporate tax hikes. https://t.co/LEVWsu0Q1r pic.twitter.com/VrEkgExrSG
— Kevin Robillard (@Robillard) April 14, 2021
An April POLITICO/Morning Consult poll found that 65% of voters supported increasing corporate taxes to pay for Biden’s infrastructure bill and nearly three-quarters of voters thought corporations need to pay more in taxes, while a more recent Investor’s Business Daily poll found similar results.
Unfortunately, the pressure from centrist Dems has already provoked a walk back from Biden, who floated the idea of accepting just a 25% corporate tax increase after the opposition from ex-Republicans like Joe Manchin became known— a far cry from the 35% tax rate that corporations had and often circumvented anyway from the pre-Trump years.
Time and time again, we have seen truly transformative Democratic plans get watered down or abandoned entirely thanks to internal party opposition from self-centered Democrats and the pernicious business lobbyists whispering in their ears, slyly repackaging corporate greed into doomsday predictions for Democratic political fortunes.
But considering the across-the-board drubbing that the Democrats shouldered in the 2020 elections — losing a bevy of House seats and all but two of their wildly expensive Senate targets — perhaps listening to “conventional” wisdom is not necessarily the best path to electoral success.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is already boasting behind the scenes that he doesn’t think Democrats will be able to get it together on infrastructure. The fact of the matter is that this is possibly the last opportunity the Democratic Party might ever have to implement its agenda, and time could not be more of the essence. We cannot afford to allow the tendrils of corruption and the obtuseness of Democratic egos to squander this opportunity for America.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.