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Cannot think of a "Catchy" Title: Just Pass a Massive Bill

Unrepresentative Policy of the Week: Is Anyone Negotiating for the People on Infrastructure?

The end of last week tragically saw new life breathed into the prospect of "bipartisanship" on and infrastructure package, as the irrelevant “gang of 10” became the potentially viable “gang of 21.” Until this point, there have never been enough Republicans even signing on to negotiate, to clear the 60 vote Senate threshold. Of course conflicting signals abound, with Senator Graham shooting down bipartisan support of Manchin’s voting bill.

Furthermore, are the Republicans actually trying to negotiate in good faith, or is this merely another ACA or January 6thcommission, in which Democrats give every concession to Republicans, only to receive no votes when the legislation comes up for a vote? This sort of delaying tactic could be extremely valuable to a group of lawmakers as cynical as the Republican Senators. They know that the longer they delay, the less legislation of any kind will be passed by the Democrats. If Republicans can delay the vote on infrastructure until right before the August recess, they may prevent infrastructure legislation from passing at all, while simultaneously lowering the governments aspirations from $2+ trillion to <$1 trillion, so the next time negotiations start on infrastructure spending, they’ve already lowered the bar.

This is why Bernie Sanders’ and other progressive Democrats’ $6 trillion counter-proposal is not just the legislation Americans want and need, it’s also good politics. That this is good policy is evident as soon as we see some of the priorities mentioned. Nearly every plank mentioned is wildly popular, as we’ve discussed before at DSOT:

Support – 73%

General – 69%

Dreamers - 75-83%

Farmers - 70%

Essential Workers - 65%

It’s critical to realize, that Bernie’s efforts here, aren’t just some sop to the base, trying to give them hope from false promises, it’s an excellent negotiating strategy. First, few people, least-wise Bernie himself, think that his proposal will pass with the full price tag, moderate Democrats have already promised as much, but the key here, is that now the so-called center is negotiating with proposals on both sides, not just Republicans. This helps shift the Overton window, and gives “centrist” Democrats like Joe Manchin breathing room to “stick it to the far-left” while still voting closer to Biden’s original infrastructure plan. Progressives have also threatened to withhold his vote from any bill that includes a gas tax hike, or EV tax, and raiding covid funds, a threat they must follow through on this time, if push-comes-to-shove. This stick is essential to stopping the rightward march of the current infrastructure negotiations, and make sure Democrats don’t take the left for granted, and give away the whole farm.

Second, this legislation is written to pass with only Democratic party votes, either through reconciliation or filibuster reform. If, and when, talks with Republicans fall apart, Democrats will have little time to act before elections begin. By already having legislation in place for the Democrats, it may be possible for progressives to pull the resulting bills leftward.

All of this is just possibility and political maneuvering, with no guarantee of success. The Democratic leadership still demonstrates not just ambivalence, but antipathy towards the left flank of the party. There seems to be a reflexive resistance for suggestions proposed by any group farther left than they are. Our understanding of politics at DSOT, suggests this stems from service to their wealthy donors for who leftist policies are anathema, as well as a profound disconnect to the actual political climate. Many of the older Democrats are still stuck in the 80’s and 90’s, and think the American people are as well.

That’s where we come in. If we want to break through to our representatives, and force their donors to let new legislation through, it’s going to take mass organizing and action. Both politicians and donors need to be told, in the languages they understand, that the American people demand the government start investing in America again! So join us, each Tuesday, as we grow an economic cudgel to help get the government back to work for the people!

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