Monday, March 8, 2021

Take The Win

The $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill goes back to the House tomorrow to reconcile the differences between the version they sent to the Senate.  If all goes well, Biden will be able to sign it by the end of the week.

But some folks are already complaining that he went too far to get the bill through the Senate and caved on certain items, which proves that there’s always going to be someone who just can’t take the win and move forward.

During the debate, Senate moderates narrowed the bill’s federal stimulus payments, lowering the income cap on which Americans qualify for a $1,400 payment. And after the Senate parliamentarian ruled that the Democrats could not include a $15 minimum-wage increase, an amendment Friday by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to try to add the provision back into the package fell far short of the necessary votes — with seven Democrats and one independent voting against the wage increase.

The sizable Democratic pushback against the measure came as a blow to liberals, who had previously griped that their agenda was being thwarted by just one or two of the centrists.

Moderates also whittled down the bill’s unemployment insurance benefits not once but twice — initially from the $400-a-week levels Biden wanted and again, in an effort to bring onboard Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), from the compromise reached for $300-a-week benefits extended through early October. Ultimately, the Senate approved $300 a week through Sept. 6.

The relief bill also offered a glimpse at how, in an evenly divided Senate, a single lawmaker — in this case, Manchin, who represents a state that Biden lost by nearly 40 points — can grind legislating to a virtual standstill. On Friday, the Senate set a record for the longest roll-call vote, holding open a tally on Sanders’s minimum-wage amendment for 11 hours and 50 minutes while Democrats, including Biden, scrambled to woo Manchin over the disagreement on the size of unemployment benefits.

Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.), a close Biden ally who voted against Sanders’s minimum-wage amendment, described “some new dynamics” in the Senate majority requiring what he called “serious efforts” on issues ranging from immigration to infrastructure.

“This was a reminder that in a 50-50 Senate, if any one member changes their mind on an amendment or vote or an issue, it can change the outcome,” Coons said.

Democrats are grappling with other challenges, as well. There is significant dissent within the party over whether to abolish or overhaul the filibuster, a procedural maneuver that allows the minority party to block a final vote on Senate legislation by requiring a 60-vote threshold to continue.

Liberals are increasingly pressuring Biden and Vice President Harris to support scrapping the filibuster, arguing it hampers the administration’s chance of achieving campaign promises on issues including climate change, gun control, immigration and voting rights. But others, including Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), have said they do not support a repeal of the filibuster.

I realize that this is how the system works, and it is designed that way, but it still irks me that given the fact that over 140 Republicans in the House and almost all of the Senate GOP has yet to acknowledge that Joe Biden actually won the election, some people expected a 60-vote win and the $15 an hour minimum wage. Whereas the Democrats have to deal with a centrist coalition the progressives, at least they can talk reasonably with them. But expecting them to basically negotiate with MAGA terrorists will not get the job done, so you might as well do what it takes to work around them. Trust me, if the Republicans were in the same position, the filibuster would be a relic in some history book and they’d be whooping through their shit without a second thought, then move on to banning Black people from voting and liberating the Seuss Six.

The Republicans are lying in wait for the next move, be it voting rights or statehood for D.C. and Puerto Rico.  So my advice to the Democrats is to think like they would — at least in terms of parliamentary procedure — and get going.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Out Of Chaos Comes Order

Well, that was fast.

With a string of commanding victories on Tuesday — Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, probably any other “M” state that might have bothered with a primary this week — Joe Biden appears poised to complete one of the most striking turnarounds in recent campaign memory, finding himself in a dominant position only 10 days after the first state victory of his three presidential runs. His remarkable reversal has banished Senator Bernie Sanders to a familiar electoral perch: an insurgent progressive long shot straining to catch an establishment favorite.

And just like the last ten minutes of an episode of Star Trek, the ship is out of danger, the aliens have been defeated (or made friends with), and the warp drive is back on line.  Bless you, Scotty.  Let’s boldly go.

I suspect that for a lot of voters, Joe Biden wasn’t their first choice, but seeing what was happening with the other candidates faltering along the way and the real possibility that Bernie Sanders could win the nomination and become this generation’s George McGovern, they didn’t want to chance it.  Defeating Trump is the primary — pun intended — goal for them so they were not willing to risk this election on a long shot even if they agreed with a lot of his ideas.

The primaries aren’t over — we here in Florida get our shot next week, along with Ohio and several other states — but the road ahead for Mr. Sanders looks rocky and narrow.  He basically blew up any chances of winning here in South Florida by saying things about Cuba and Castro that no non-Cuban politician of any party should say, and even though we have a reputation for being a haven for old Jewish men, it’s not gonna happen in the rest of the state; outside of Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties, it is pretty much like the rest of the South.  My old home state of Ohio has a history of electing moderate Democrats; the Sanders foothold in Cleveland and Toledo is no match for the pragmatists in the rest of the state.  If anyone has a chance of swinging Ohio back to the blue column in November, it will be someone like Mr. Biden.

As I noted last week, the over-looming issue is beating Trump to the point that outside of the Fox News bubble there’s not a scintilla of doubt that he lost with a capital L.  This election in November has to be on a scale of Reagan over Carter in 1980 — the election called before 9 p.m. Eastern — and that can’t be done if there’s a weak field running against him.  Not only that, the Democrats have to sweep up the Senate and keep the House, and Mr. Sanders’ Mao jacket doesn’t have coattails.

No, Joe Biden wasn’t my first choice.  He wasn’t even my second choice.  But I’m not going to let my hurt fee-fees over losing Mayor Pete and Elizabeth Warren keep me from voting strategically next week to keep the magical transformation of the Democrats once in disarray into a solid and strong march to, as my grandparents once said, getting That Man out of the White House.

Besides, any candidate who tells an ammosexual heckler he’s full of shit gets my unfettered admiration.