Go Big, or Go Home

Ten years in the wilderness, ten years wandering in the desert, progressives had a lot of time to think, to study the tactics of their opponents, to see that Trumpism was not the cause of unrest at every level of American society, but the logical outcome of it.  Many, and I include myself in that number, focused too narrowly on how Donald Trump amplified racist tropes, a disgustingly blatant disregard for half the country — women, and a systematic demonization of anyone non-white who didn’t accept Jesus as their personal lord and savior as un-American villains (this catch-all was useful for portraying African Americans, no matter how evangelical, Latinos, no matter how Catholic, Jews, and Muslims as “dangerous” others) that we failed to see the trees for the forest (yes, I know that’s backwards).  So caught up in Trump’s outrage du jour, we were distracted like a mark in a game of Three-card Monte.

Out of the gate, President Biden, with Democratic majorities in the House and the Senate, is not making the same mistake his former boss, President Obama, made when he used unified Democratic control of Congress and the White House to pass a stimulus bill to stave off disaster from the 2008 financial crisis and accomplish healthcare reform.  President Obama’s stimulus bill was seasoned to make it more palatable to Republicans’ taste with gratuitous tax cuts for the wealthy in a effort, doomed from the outset, to win Republican support, while Democrats wasted precious months passing the Affordable Care Act as Republicans stalled pretending to negotiate only to turn around and vote unanimously along party lines against it. This time, Biden and congressional Democrats anticipated Republican stonewalling, taking it for granted, and just went around them instead of wasting time trying to win them over.  Fair play!  Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

Not only is Biden’s relief package good for America and Americans, it’s good for Democrats’ electoral prospects in the midterms.  75% of voters, including a majority of Republican voters, support it.  Yet Republicans in the House and Senate voted as a block against it — they’re making the same cynical, self-centered calculation they made during the Obama years:  that their path back to power is to block Democrats and Biden from achieving anything, inflicting the maximum amount of pain on the electorate, so voters will be hurt and angry and pull the lever for the GOP candidate in 2022 in a massive “throw-the-bums-out” backlash.  But evidence shows it won’t work this time; they’ve read the offense, and the country, wrong:

Recessions caused by financial crises take longer to recover from and are less likely to snap back quickly. Even under the most optimistically realistic scenario, Democrats were looking at a pretty tough economy on Election Day 2010. While hindsight has proven that the Recovery Act was too small, it did achieve its primary goal — stopping the country from tumbling into a second Great Depression. Democrats, therefore, had to campaign (in part) on a message of “Imagine how much worse things could have been.” Counterfactuals are the hardest political arguments to make.

The situation in 2021 is much different. The cause of the current economic difficulties is singular. The solution is simple — in conception, if not execution — vaccinate as many people soon as possible. The combination of vaccinations and economic aid is highly likely to make the Biden plan’s success widely felt when people start voting in 2022.

President Biden’s $1.9 trillion dollar American Rescue Plan is designed to address the economic damage caused by the pandemic, but it does so much more than that.  We are beginning to see a government focused on solutions to the problems facing everyday Americans, not one obsessed with blaming anyone and anything remotely “foreign” for our problems.

Joe Biden in the Oval Office

The Biden plan makes good on his campaign promises.  How novel to have an empathetic truth-teller in the Oval Office!  Biden’s plan will cap Obamacare premiums at 8% of a person’s income, delivering affordable healthcare; it expands unemployment benefits when they are so desperately needed, and increases both the child tax credit and the earned income tax credit (the latter only temporarily); it provides crucial financial assistance to renters, schools, hard hit employers like restaurants, childcare providers, state and local governments, and Native American territories.  Perhaps most critical of all, it adds funding for COVID vaccination programs nationwide.  Last, but not least, it puts $1400 dollar checks in the hands of the Americans who need them most.  The president’s plan will make millions of people’s lives better in immediate and tangible ways.  Unlike past stimulus bills that have doled out cash to the rich making them richer, this one is targeted directly at low-income and middle-class Americans.  Experts estimate that it will cut child poverty in half and reduce the total number of Americans living in poverty by one-third.

One-third, thoughtful reader, is 13 million Americans!

This proves the point that I have been screaming at the top of my lungs for years:  poverty in the wealthiest nation on the planet isn’t just the way the cookie crumbles, it’s a conscious, calculated, immoral policy choice, and we can end it any time we choose.

Joe Biden-American Relief Plan

Between the direct payments, the increased earned income tax credit, and a larger and now fully refundable child tax credit, this bill is effectively America’s first step toward a universal basic income guaranteed every American.  Unlike Republicans, every single congressional Democrat voted for the $2 trillion dollar CARES Act, even though doing so on Trump’s watch made Trump “look” like he’d actually accomplished something for ordinary Americans.  With Biden as president, however, just guess how many Republicans voted for the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan — go on, guess, I’ll wait…

yep, ZERO, because hurting President Biden is more important to them than helping Americans.

I’ve written a template every Democrat challenger facing a Republican incumbent can use in 2022; take it, it’s free:

Republican [representative/senator] voted against giving you a check; s/he voted against COVID vaccination; s/he voted against help for small businesses; s/he voted against sending your kids back to school.

As Joe Biden was caught on an open mic whispering in Barack Obama’s ear when he signed the Affordable Care Act into law…

THIS IS A BIG FUCKING DEAL.

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