While the corporate political media and the so-called “mOdErAtEs” in Congress love to paint progressives as unreasonable and unwilling to compromise, the embarrassing and disgraceful debacle playing out in Congress right now shows that couldn’t be further from the truth. President Biden and the Democrats had a deal in place to pass both a meat and potatoes bipartisan infrastructure bill and then a $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill with the rest of President Biden’s promised agenda in it — which in and of itself was a compromise from progressives, who originally had wanted a larger and far more ambitious bill.
But two conservative Democrats in the Senate, Sen. Joe Manchin (“D”-WV) and Sen. Krysten Sinema (“D”-AZ) are threatening to derail the entire thing over vague concerns about it being “too expensive.” Never mind the fact that both of them just voted no questions asked for a bill funding the treatment of “Havana Syndrome,” an almost certainly imaginary syndrome for which there is no evidence proving it exists at all and that only affects a tiny subset of Americans who already have government healthcare. When it comes to throwing money at Israel or funding endless wars, there’s never any complaints; but when faced with the chance to expand the social safety net and making sure that all Americans get the resources and the opportunities they rightfully deserve, all of a sudden it’s what about the deficit?
Yesterday, Sinema insisted for the third time that she “opposes the bill’s spending levels” — but she couldn’t even be bothered to give an answer as to what she would be “comfortable with,” and it appears that she won’t do so until the bipartisan infrastructure bill passes — creating a Mexican standoff that can only end with the splintering of the Democratic Party and the complete and utter failure of the Biden administration to get anything done with the first blue trifecta in nearly a decade.
One other thing: The reconciliation bill is the heart of the Democratic Party agenda.
The idea that we'd require the bipartisan theater of the much smaller BIF to pass first is an arbitrary condition, an obstacle to success that doesn't have to happen:https://t.co/ON5wuRqFAa pic.twitter.com/eB4HXd54jR
— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) September 29, 2021
Progressives are threatening to withhold their votes on the infrastructure bill out of the clearly very reasonable fear that conservative Dems like Sinema would gut the reconciliation bill with the entire Democratic agenda in it — including money to grapple with the looming ecological apocalypse from 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.
And it would appear that Sinema is deeply beholden to those corporate overlords, having held a meeting this week with lobbyists opposing Biden’s agenda, charging $5800 a head for a 45-minute “discussion” in which corporate shills wept and moaned over how damaging President Biden’s plan to raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy would be to their bottom lines. The next day, she met with President Biden again and reiterated her opposition to the reconciliation bill. Wonder if the two are somehow connected?
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) September 28, 2021
Nothing speaks to the appalling and disgraceful dysfunction of the Democratic Party to see a handful of wealthy politicians publicly sell their souls for peanuts ($5,000? That’s all it takes?) and then put the one chance that the party that they’re supposed to support — the one chance that the country of America has had in ten fucking years to pass any kind of policy improvement for the American people — into jeopardy. If she actually follows through with this, the Democratic Party will have lost the last shred of legitimacy as a governing force in this country that it is currently clinging to and can look forward to a future of complete irrelevancy as fascist zealots seize power for the final time. But that doesn’t seem to matter one bit to these ghouls, because they are conservatives, and if there is one thing we have learned about conservatives in the past few years, it is that they will happily see the country burn and everyone in it die before lifting a finger against the stream of income into the pockets of the oligarchy.
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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.