Good sports coaches always make sure to celebrate a win immediately, establish a team baseline expectation and to cultivate an appetite for winning. After white-knuckling through the chaotic and vexing Trump Administration for four years, putting a solid ‘W’ on the board is satisfying. The American Left has a bad habit of never taking the win, even when it’s right in their face. Cash that check. Do your end zone dance for a minute. Big wins don’t happen very often. As Joe Biden says, “This is a BFD”.
The relatively quick and easy win on the 2T American Recovery Act (ARA) was a display of political will and legislative skill by the Democratic Party. By the standards of the last 40 years, it was impressive. Despite some dumb last-minute showboating drama from a few conservative Democratic Senators like Synema and Manchin to bolster their political brands, the Senate Democrats are falling in line behind the Administration’s agenda. House Leader Nancy Pelosi rules the House with an iron fist in a Chanel glove and even the typically hapless Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is bringing his caucus to heel.
Progressives have a lot to like in this bill. This is a firehose of cash directed at the bottom three quintiles of the income scale. This is the new Davos consensus for massive Keynesian economic stimulus targeted at the precarious working class, younger gig workers, and newly proletarianized knowledge economy workers to minimize the economic scarring of the pandemic depression I referenced in the last column.
Now that I’ve given the Biden team their due, we need to do the dour lefty critique. The main progressive knock on the ARA is that it is temporary and contingent aid that arrived about 9 months too late to stop permanent economic scarring.
The politics of this bill were sub-par, due to the tone-deaf conservative Democrats. The centrists stripped the most structural element, the $15/hr national minimum wage (an idea that was urgent a decade ago) from the bill. The messaging failure on the promised $2,000 checks is an inexplicable own-goal. Senator Manchin’s selfish melodrama over reducing monthly unemployment benefits by a $100 was an appalling display of political malpractice.
All the inside baseball maneuvers aside, however, the ultimate outcome of the ARA is a torrent of cash into working-class and middle-class base voters. This bodes well for the midterms.
The ARA child benefit allowances are the most exciting feature of this bill. This one-year payment of $300/month per child under six ($250/month for kids 6-18) will reduce child poverty in the U.S. by 45%!
It is clear to me that the job of the progressive movement is to make those child benefit payments permanent when the next reconciliation bill comes around next year. We need to nail down the $15 minimum wage and pass the PRO Act to help revitalize the labor movement in the U.S. next round.
On the local scene, the California Republicans are trying desperately to bamboozle the voters into recalling the Governor to vent their frustration over the pandemic recession. It’s not working this time. It will fail.
Here in Sonoma County, plutocrat developer Bill Gallaher is throwing around big sums of money to punish the DA Jill Ravitch with recall for assessing an expensive judgment against him for mismanagement of an expensive private nursing home in the fire emergency of 2017. Bill Gallaher and his clan are living proof that we need to tax rich people more, so they can’t use their money to buy our politics. ‘No’ on both recalls.