Tag Archives: Build Back Better

Failed presidency? Hardly!

I have no clue whether President Biden is going to seek a second term in the White House. I hope he does because I now intend to seek to dispel the myth being kicked around that he stands over a “failed presidency.”

Whether he steps away after a single term or manages to win re-election in 2024, I believe Joe Biden can — and will — look at his current term as a successful venture.

One of the more remarkable aspects of Biden’s success has been his ability to achieve it without the kind of bipartisan support many of us — including yours truly — expected he would be able to generate.

The just-enacted Inflation Reduction Act is heading to his desk without a single Republican vote in either congressional chamber. No GOP senators or House members joined Democrats in endorsing a bill that seeks to slow inflation, makes a huge investment in clean/green energy and reduces the cost of prescription drugs.

That the president was able to resurrect a version of Build Back Better — which had been given up for dead — is itself a political miracle.

That was just the president’s latest success. He also was able — with a smattering of GOP help — push through a modest gun control bill in the wake of the Uvalde school and Buffalo supermarket massacres. He had help from GOP Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, who worked with Democratic Sen. Patrick Murphy of Connecticut in coming up with a legislative compromise that ends a decades-long stalemate on stemming gun violence.

Biden’s presidential success also must include his ability to muster international support for sanctions against Russia over its lawless, immoral and criminal invasion of Ukraine. NATO and the European Union have stood foursquare with us as Biden has taken measures to punish Russian goon/strongman Vladimir Putin for his criminal behavior.

Has the Biden term been flawless? No, it hasn’t. The most significant policy setback, in my view, has been along our southern border. Then again, the administration has not — as critics have suggested — created an “open-border” policy.

However, I will not accept any argument that Joe Biden has failed in the job to which he was elected.


Senate clears big bill

OK, so it doesn’t constitute a stunning bipartisan mandate, but it does demonstrate how Senate Republicans — once again — appear to be on the wrong side of history.

The U.S. Senate approved by the thinnest margin possible a procedural vote that clears the way for approval of a slimmed-down package that President Biden has been seeking to do a number of positive things for the economy.

The bill seeks to cut carbon emissions and help stem the changing climate; it seeks to pay for itself by raising taxes on the richest Americans; it seeks to lower drug costs, giving more Americans access to medication.

Harris breaks 50-50 deadlock to advance landmark climate, tax, health bill | The Hill

Hey, it’s a good package.

All 50 Senate Republicans voted “no.” All 50 Democrats voted “yes.” That left it to Vice President Harris to cast the deciding vote to send the measure on to a full vote sometime Sunday.

This is the same deal that was given up for dead when Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin declared he couldn’t support it. Then the senator met with Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer to work out a pared-down version. Manchin changed his tune; the deal was back on the table.

This gives President Biden a much-need push toward keeping a major campaign promise, which was to help reduce the threat caused by climate change.

As for the Republicans, they continue to push policies that Americans do not support. How can they sustain that stubbornness going into the midterm election?

My hope is that they cannot.


Way to go, Mitch

Let’s just call him Mitch the Obstructor, the guy who never — not ever! — seems to back a Democratically inspired notion that well could produce astonishing results for the nation.

But there’s Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell saying that a Democratic deal hammered out by maverick Democrat Joe Manchin and Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer is a job killer. It’s a “socialist” program. It’s just going to sink the nation faster than that iceberg did to the Titanic.

He cannot back it under any circumstance.

It’s a $430 billion bill that would produce cleaner air, would reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, would be paid for with modest tax increases on the richest Americans. Yet to hear McConnell bellow about his opposition, it’s the worst thing to come down the pike since President Nixon’s wage and price controls of the 1970s. Oh, wait, Nixon was a Republican, so I guess that made it OK.

Manchin has performed a fairly stunning reversal on this matter. He recently declared his opposition to President Biden’s Build Back Better idea, which everyone at the time thought doomed the notion for good.

Now he comes around. Again! I cannot keep up with the West Virginian who seems to enjoy the role of senator with outsized influence.

He and Schumer and the POTUS, though, now must deal with Mitch the Obstructor. I am hoping they can put Mitch in his place … presumably under something from he cannot re-emerge.


Manchin makes me angry

Joe Manchin has emerged in the most dubious manner possible. He has become the most maddening politician in America.

Yes, the West Virginia Democratic U.S. senator is driving me batty. Nuts. Crazy.

The senator who represents one of the nation’s poorest states, where residents overwhelmingly support President Biden’s Build Back Better legislation, has decided to vote “no” on the package. His opposition seems curious, given that he offered a counter proposal that Biden reportedly accepted.

Now the senator has turned his back on it. He calls it too costly.

My goodness, the legislation aims to do a lot of good things for all Americans. Oh yeah. That means West Virginians, too. Which explains why the residents of that state favor it so dramatically.

What makes me nuts is that I happen to support the BBB package. It’s not that Manchin and I are on the same page. He has emerged as an outsized player in a drama that is building daily. Sen. Manchin does not deserve to play such a huge role in killing legislation that is going to help Americans from coast to coast.

Manchin has taken a “my-way-or-the-highway” approach to this matter. He knows he holds more power than he deserves given that he serves in a Senate made up of 50 Republicans and 50 Democrats (and a couple of independents who caucus with Democrats). Any “no” vote among Democrats can kill this package, as no GOP senators have signed on.

Joe Manchin’s arrogance defies description.


Vote ‘no’ and take the dough

I should direct these comments to the Republicans who comprise the Texas congressional delegation.

All of ’em, to a person, voted “no” on President Biden’s infrastructure proposal and on the $1.7 trillion package billed as Build Back Better.

Some of them have issued harsh policy statements criticizing Biden as well as their Democratic colleagues, calling them “socialists” and “spendthrift” liberals who don’t give a damn about the national debt.

Ah, yes. But … will they say “no” when the government starts parceling the money to their states or congressional districts? Hardly!

Indeed, I fully expect some of them to actually use these improvements as grist for their re-election efforts in 2022 and beyond. Will they realize or recognize the hypocrisy of that message? Not even, man!


Debt or investment?

One man’s piling onto the national debt is another man’s “investment in the future.”

So it goes with the debate over Build Back Better, which is President Biden’s domestic spending initiative that is hung up in wrangling between congressional Democrats and Republicans and, yes, even between factions within the Democratic Party.

Whether it’s a $3.5 trillion spending package over 10 years or a $1.5 trillion package, it’s a lot of money.

What is so damn troubling, though, is that the GOP caucus is now worried about the national debt. It wasn’t worried one little bit about it when Donald Trump pitched an idea about cutting taxes for rich people, depriving the government of revenue it could “invest” in programs to help the rest of us. Now, though, it is all hung up on the debt and the cost of the infrastructure package that Biden and some within the Democratic caucus want.

Yeah, I know. It’s politics. That’s a family member of mine’s favorite rejoinder. It’s his fallback position when he can’t find any justification for the nonsense being bandied about.

It still stinks, man.


‘Good government’ isn’t pretty

As a good government progressive, I find this discussion over Build Back Better, the debt ceiling and ways to avoid a government shutdown an example of just how ugly good government can be.

Man, it is damn ugly.

But I will stand by my belief that good government, which is the government of the possible, must be ugly in order to get anything done.

Indeed, the older I get the less ideological I become. I once was a flaming liberal. I took a two-year turn in the U.S. Army in the late 1960s, went to war for my country, came home as confused about that war as I was when I arrived, then got involved in presidential politics. I campaigned in my home state of Oregon for George McGovern in 1972. He lost big … remember?

Time went on. I grew up a bit more. We’re now watching the progressive wing of the Democratic Party battle with the more moderate wing. The progressives have made some good points about wanting to spend a lot more money than the moderates want to spend. However, I am going to await the end of this haggling to see how it plays out.

Thus, we are watching how good government might look ugly.

In reality, I believe it will produce a thing of beauty at the end.


Some perspective, eh?

A certain amount of context has been tossed aside in the discussion over whether to approve President Biden’s plan to “Build Back Better.”

We have become fixated on the number: 3.5 trillion … as in dollars.

What has become tossed aside is that the number that Biden and congressional progressives want would cover a 10-year period.

So, that figures to be a $350 billion expenditure annually to do a number of things: improve roads and bridges; modernize air travel; develop ship channels; improve Internet broadband service.

Here’s some more perspective. The United States of America boasts a $20 trillion annual economy, which suggests to me that $350 billion each year is like so much spittle in the proverbial bucket.

Congressional Republicans and some moderate congressional Democrats are wringing their hands over the amount of money that progressives want to spend. Again, I have to wonder: Why?

If the plan is to spread this expense out over a 10-year span of time, why are we quibbling over the total figure that in the grand scheme seems less relevant when you add some needed context to the discussion?