For a minute, it looked like President Biden had threaded the needle. Playing on the Republican fear that Democrats were going to abolish the filibuster (which they should), the President took advantage of Mitch McConnell’s begrudging acceptance that he was going to have to pass something to defang the Democratic narrative about his obstructionism and got him behind a historic infrastructure deal.
At the same time, he got the progressives of the Democratic Party behind it by promising to follow it up with an enormous $3.5 trillion reconciliation budget bill to pass the signature Biden presidential agenda, like climate change, expanding the social safety net, paid leave, child care, investing in education — all the things that actually help people and that conservatives entirely refuse to consider on behalf of their corporate overlords.
The infrastructure bill has passed the Senate and is about to be taken up by the House for final approval — but once again, the conservative side of the Democratic Party is threatening to derail the entire thing.
A group of nine so-called “mOdErAtE” Congressmen have sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi threatening to hold the budget resolution hostage unless they pass infrastructure bill first, which would allow them to freely take a scalpel to the budget reconciliation proposal and deny the progressives their priorities without fear of losing votes for the infrastructure bill.
NEW: 9 Dem moderates are threatening to withhold their support for their party's must-pass budget resolution until Pelosi changes course and instead allows their chamber to first vote on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan the Senate approved this week. Story TK pic.twitter.com/XliUJKk8hT
— Daniella Diaz (@DaniellaMicaela) August 13, 2021
The “moderates” have already telegraphed their intention to do so, complaining about how the bill is too big and wringing their hands over Biden’s plan to tax the rich to pay for social benefits for the rest of us at the same time, making it obvious that these greedy scumbags would rather see the wealthy stay wealthy than see any material improvements in the lives of ordinary Americans.
“Josh Gottheimer, one letter signer, has been crusading for a restoration of the state and local tax deduction, a benefit for some of his affluent constituents. Jim Costa, another signer, wants to protect the heirs to massive fortunes from any taxation on their windfall…The moderate Democrats are the biggest obstacle to making the math work, simultaneously complaining about the size of the bill while ordering more expensive goodies for themselves,” writes Jonathan Chait in the Intelligencer.
This is only the latest instance of right-wing — don’t let that “moderate” label fool you — Democrats threatening to derail everything their own Party stands for and wants to achieve. Senators Manchin and Sinema and a slew of right-wing Dem senators successfully fought to keep a $15 minimum wage out of the COVID-19 relief bill, despite it being a Democratic Party platform priority for over five years. They run interference for the Republicans because they’re beholden to the same corporate interests and the same wealthy donors as the Republicans are, and have shown time and time again that they’re willing to tank their own party’s agenda to protect those interests.
While they’re not likely to succeed this time, as passing the infrastructure bill is a major priority for every party involved, it’s just another reminder that we need to devote as much effort into getting rid of the Blue Republicans as much as we do the Red ones, or we’re never going to be able to tackle the crises we face — like the rapidly accelerating ecological apocalypse from climate change — with the aggressive response that the situation calls for.
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.