USA Politics: Republicans Made A Foolish Bet On The Biden Agenda – Opinion

 Jennifer Rubin | The Washington Post

THE ECONOMY LOOKS READY TO TAKE OFF IN A WAY WE HAVE NOT SEEN FOR 30 YEARS. The International Monetary Fund predicts that the U.S. economy “will surpass its pre-pandemic size as growth reaches 6.4% this year …. up 1.3 percentage points from the group’s forecast in January,” CNN reported.

The IMF predicts the $1.9 trillion rescue plan will “deliver a strong boost to growth in the United States in 2021 and provide sizable positive spillovers to trading partners,” and, as a result, the “recession is likely to leave smaller scars than the 2008 global financial crisis.”       

THIS WAS PRECISELY THE ARGUMENT THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION MADE: The risk was spending too little, not too much. The key to a robust recovery was crushing the pandemic. With Biden’s “whole of government” approach, mass vaccination offers a realistic chance for returning to workplaces, schools and public venues. It is the new confidence in a post-pandemic world that promises to unleash an economic boom. 

With more than 900,000 jobs added in March and a manufacturing boom underway, some economists anticipate a 10 percent growth in the second quarter. Corporate America sounds downright giddy about the economic prospects. CNBC reported:

JPMorgan CEO [Jamie] Dimon commented at length on the economy in his annual letter to shareholders Wednesday, and his remarks echoed what many economists expect:

“I have little doubt that with excess savings, new stimulus savings, huge deficit spending, more QE, a new potential infrastructure bill, a successful vaccine and euphoria around the end of the pandemic, the U.S. economy will likely boom. This boom could easily run into 2023 because all the spending could extend well into 2023.” 

If this comes to fruition, Republicans will be hard-pressed to come up with a justification for their utter intransigence on spending plans. And it will be difficult to convince voters that their fake cultural wars — from their attacks on trans youth to complaints about discontinuing some Dr. Seuss titles — are more important than an economic recovery. “Sure, the economy is roaring, you can visit your grandparents, the kids are back out of the house and you can go to a baseball game … BUT Dr. Seuss!”

Congressional Republicans said on April 11 President Biden’s infrastructure plan is too expensive — and too wide ranging to be called an “infrastructure” bill. (The Washington Post) 

Moreover, as the Atlantic’s Ron Brownstein pointed out, the Biden agenda offers benefits not simply for traditional Democratic constituents but for rural voters and voters with only a high school diploma.

“By proposing these mammoth economic plans that direct substantial assistance to Democratic and Republican constituencies alike,” he writes, “Biden is placing his own bet, one that Democrats from Lyndon B. Johnson and Hubert Humphrey’s generation would recognize: That he can win back blue-collar and rural white voters drawn to conservative messages on culture and race by addressing their kitchen-table economic concerns.” 

There is only so much Republicans can do to distract from good times, yet it has not occurred to them that they might want to gain some credit for the expansion rather than cede all of it to Democrats.

It is telling that soon after the American Rescue Plan passed with no GOP votes, Republicans started claiming credit for money flowing to their districts and states. If they decide to deny the administration any support for its historic infrastructure bill – which, like the rescue plan, is popular with labor, mayors, governors, small business and more – you can be sure Biden and congressional Democrats will remind voters that the new bridge or the faster Internet or the new Veterans Affairs hospital would not exist if it were up to Republicans.

Republicans’ Game Plan of Obstruction and Distraction seems poorly designed to address the real possibility of economic success and post-pandemic elation. The Biden administration’s bet going into its first 100 days was that competency could deliver real results that mean more to voters than contrived cultural memes. For now, the “Go big!” strategy seems to be on track. No wonder Republicans sound so angry these days. 

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  • Clyde Duncan  On 04/12/2021 at 7:20 pm

    Biden Rides A ‘KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID’ Strategy To Early Success

    The president’s COVID-relief bill passed the Senate on Saturday. It was a remarkably drama-free milestone for a $1.9 trillion bill.

    By Natasha Korecki and Christopher Cadelago | Politico

    FROM THE DAY JOE BIDEN STEPPED INTO THE WHITE HOUSE, HIS TOP PRIORITY WAS CLEAR:

    Pass COVID relief. Ignore skirmishes elsewhere. Keep the message to Congress simple. And keep the message to the public even clearer:

    The Current Health And Financial Crisis Would NOT Go Unanswered.

    “CRISIS CREATES URGENCY AND THEY MADE THE RELIEF BILL THE SINGULAR FOCUS OF THEIR AGENDA,” said Rahm Emanuel, who as President Obama’s chief of staff in 2009 ushered through a relief package after himself uttering his famous phrase about not letting a serious crisis “go to waste”. For the Biden team, Emanuel said, COVID relief was priorities “NUMBER. 1, 2 AND 3 OF THEIR AGENDA.”

    Biden’s keep-it-simple strategy paid off, after the Senate advanced his massive $1.9 trillion stimulus package, setting up a vote in the House and — shortly thereafter — the likely arrival of the bill to the president’s desk.

    “When I was elected, I said we were going to get the government out of the business of battling on Twitter and back in the business of delivering for the American people, of making a difference in their lives, giving everyone a chance — a fighting chance, of showing the American people that their government can work for them,” Biden said in remarks shortly after the Senate vote. “PASSING THE AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN WILL DO THAT.”

    BIDEN KEPT DEMOCRATS FROM SPLINTERING AND BARRELED AHEAD WITHOUT REPUBLICAN SUPPORT.

    BIDEN DIDN’T NEED REPUBLICANS IN THE END, AS THE BILL THAT PASSED THE SENATE ONLY REQUIRED A SIMPLE MAJORITY.

    But keeping his party in line was a feat itself. And in doing so, Biden managed to accomplish something that former presidents Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton could not in early bills before Congress:

    HEW CLOSELY TO THE ORIGINAL PROPOSAL WITHOUT HAVING TO GIVE MUCH UP IN RETURN.

    “The White House said they were going to pass a $1.9 trillion package and then they did it,” said Zac Petkanas, whose outside group, Invest in America, was formed to help Biden muscle the legislation through, and then continue to sell it.

    “They had a disciplined message, ignored Washington naysayers in order to speak directly to the American people, didn’t buckle under pressure to cut some weak-kneed deal with Republicans and kept the Democratic caucuses united. That’s some damn fine work.”

    AGAIN, THE MESSAGING WAS SIMPLE: Dealing with COVID mattered more than any specific policy. Indeed, the Senate’s passage of the bill comes at a pivotal point for the Biden administration and the COVID fight. Production and delivery of the vaccine continue to pick up along with the number of vaccinations. Americans are expressing optimism about the state of the pandemic. Jobs numbers improved last month. And Biden’s own job-approval rating clocked in at 60 percent in an Associated Press survey released Friday.

    White House allies said the as-yet-unannounced job of selling the rescue package would be fulsome. Indeed, Biden acknowledged late in the week that Democrats would have to do a far better job than they did in 2009-2010 to make Americans aware of all the ways the nearly $2 trillion package will benefit them.

    Speaking virtually to House Democrats, Biden said his former boss was just too “MODEST” about taking a “VICTORY LAP” after they passed their own economic stimulus bill — In that Instance, With The Help Of Three Senate Republicans.

    “I kept saying, ‘Tell people what we did.’ He kept saying, ‘We don’t have time, we’re not going to take a victory lap,’” Biden said, recalling conversations with Obama. “And we paid a price for it, ironically, for that humility.”

    The price they paid was what Obama dubbed a massive midterm “SHELLACKING” at the hands of Republicans.

    The party is banking on this time being different, betting that the easy-to-understand nature of the relief package and the direct payments to Americans it contains will serve the party well in the midterms.

    “The difference between this recovery package and the one in 2009 is that almost everything in this one directly impacts people’s lives. The checks and unemployment insurance, of course, but also the money for faster and better vaccine rollout, funding for schools, cops and firefighters, child poverty,” said Matt Bennett, a top official at the center-left think tank Third Way, who was in touch with the White House and Congress on the rescue package.

    “This isn’t something that seems oblique like adding liquidity to capital markets,” he added of the comparison between 2010 and 2021. “This is hitting people where they live, and the Biden team has done a good job of making that case. All Democrats need is to keep making it happen, for two years.”

    AS EVIDENCE OF HOW WELL THE PACKAGE ITSELF IS POLLING, REPUBLICANS DID NOT FOCUS SQUARELY ON THE CONTENTS OF IT.

    Instead, they lambasted Biden and congressional Democrats for passing it on a party-line vote.

    The Senate GOP tweeted:
    “Democrats just rammed their ‘American Rescue Plan’ through the Senate without *any* bipartisan support. ALL of the other relief bills were bipartisan. ALL of the other relief bills contained compromise. The American people deserve better than this partisan wishlist.”

    One senior Republican aide said GOP members increasingly believed that all of Biden’s promises to work across the aisle were mere lip service to voters. The aide said they expected a forthcoming infrastructure bill would follow a similar model: “‘NICE IF YOU CAN GET IT, BUT THERE’S NO STOPPING US IF WE DON’T GET IT.’”

    “THAT SEEMS TO BE THEIR MISSION STATEMENT,” the person added. “At the end of the day, we want what we want and we welcome you to join us; and no matter what, we will try to screw you in the midterms.’”

    “The one thing that they wanted out of the next administration — whether it was a Trump re-election or a Biden election — was a president that was committed to getting things done,” Steve Schale, head of the Biden-aligned Unite the Country super PAC said.

    While Republicans may be criticizing the process — and while there may be mounting pressure from the pundit class to forge a bipartisan path— Democrats in close touch with the White House said they also believe the second big Biden package ends up in reconciliation too.

    “I don’t buy the regular order thing,” said the official, who requested anonymity so as not to compromise their relationship with Biden advisers. That’s in large part, they said, because Republicans have so far shown themselves unwilling to go as big as Biden wants to go.

    Another Democrat official acknowledged there is a risk of going it alone too many times, but predicted the White House would have no other choice.

    BIDEN, FOR HIS PART, SAID HE CONTINUED TO HOLD OUT HOPE FOR BIPARTISANSHIP, DESPITE NOT WINNING OVER A SINGLE REPUBLICAN.

    “There’s a lot of Republicans that came very close,” the president said. “They’ve got a lot of pressure on them and I still haven’t given up on getting their support.”

  • Clyde Duncan  On 04/13/2021 at 12:03 pm

    Republican Hypocrisy, Campaign Funds & the Downfall of American Democracy

    Apparently, corporate input into politics is okay provided it’s only for the GOP

    Danielle Moodie | ZORA

    In 2010, the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case changed corporate influence in politics forever. After nearly a century of guidelines that prohibited corporations and wealthy donors from having outsized power in our democracy, the Supreme Court ruled that limiting corporate spending in politics was akin to limiting free speech — except the First Amendment and its protections of free speech were meant for actual people, NOT corporate entities.

    Since then, we have seen political races whose candidates are raising mega money to the tune of billions, making it all but impossible for regular people to run for office. What’s worse, however, is that instead of being beholden to their actual constituents, politicians are now beholden to the CEOs and shareholders who fill their coffers. Republicans have been one of the biggest supporters of this shift in political giving; EXCEPT, when corporations decide to have actual opinions.

    After Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp recently signed one of the most heinous voter suppression laws of our lifetimes — behind closed doors and away from the public — activists called on corporations like Georgia-based Delta and Coca-Cola to take action.

    Initially, those corporate statements were paltry at best, with Delta being the biggest offender and initially applauding the governor and the state for their action. This misstep was corrected, and following the new statements against state-sanctioned voter suppression, Major League Baseball decided to pull its All-Star game out of Georgia altogether.

    Enter Minority Leader Mitch McConnell into the chat, where the biggest offender to our democracy and progress altogether verbally threatened CEOs from getting involved in politics — wait, what?

    “I find it completely discouraging to find a bunch of CEOs getting in the middle of politics,” McConnell said.

    This is rich coming from a man who wouldn’t exist in politics today without the influence and suckling he does at the teat of corporate America. In 2003, McConnell personally filed a lawsuit against laws limiting the spending of companies in politics.

    In 2020 alone, McConnell’s PAC raised more than any other political PAC with a jaw-dropping $475 million from corporate CEOs and shareholders.

    So, it seems he is totally operating on the Laura Ingraham tip, where he would prefer corporations to “shut up and donate” and keep their opinions to themselves. The hypocrisy here is staggering, but what else is new for a party that continues to gaslight the American people into believing their “big lie” about voter fraud and their rollout of hundreds of unnecessary and unconstitutional voter suppression laws?

    They want corporations to donate an unlimited amount of money while shutting their mouths; while also voting to take away the voices and power of the American public.

    Clearly, when you offer no policies, no future, and no popular platform to the American people, there is nothing left to do but lie and cheat. The Republican brain is a hollow and fascinating place where truth doesn’t exist and greed and power are rampant.

    What’s funny is that we always tend to cite some of the most egregious times in our history to showcase just how terrible Republican movements have been over the last several decades. We have compared them to Nazis, Afrikaans in South Africa, and more — the thing about these comparisons, however, is that these 20th-century villains learned their heinous behavior by watching the United States and its treatment of Black Americans.

    As a country, we like to fancy ourselves as a beacon of democracy when, in fact, we have an entire party who poses a greater threat to our democracy than any outside terrorist boogeyman that has tried to control us by fear.

    The reality is that we have often looked at politics as a place that people go because they want to make a difference while corporate America is where people go who want to make a buck — but that truth seems to be changing.

    Not to say that corporations have become our new beacon on the hill, no, but the reality is if money remains as embedded in politics as it has been, there is little place else for Americans to turn for leadership and real policy change.

    Since Citizens United placed American democracy on the auction block, it’s only a matter of time until we reach our demise under the weight of greed.

    All empires fall eventually — especially ones built on a swamp, and there is no party that knows more about swamps than RepubliKKKans.

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