I’ve hesitated to bring up the situation playing out on Capitol Hill, where a dozen or so Democrats (out of a total of around 270+ in both chambers!), most prominently Senators Manchin and Sinema, are acting like preening drama llamas as they obstruct the party’s agenda and make it all about themselves — all while a fascist movement with its own multichannel ministry of propaganda and authoritarian dictator wannabe-in-waiting have seized control of one of the country’s two political parties. I keep hoping this is all a ridiculous sausage-making dance extravaganza and everything will work out in the end.
And maybe it will! I keep telling myself it’s a pity all negotiations take place within the one party that’s interested in governing, but that’s our current reality, and given the barest of margins, we’ve got to be willing to swallow a lot of shit from outliers within our party. But there has to be a limit.
At the very least, negotiators have to stake out a position so that a compromise can take shape. It’s a sure sign of bad faith when one party in a negotiation says, “I get what I want now, and you’ll just have to wait and see if you’ll get anything in return.” Especially when that party to the negotiation has already broken an existing agreement and thereby destroyed trust.
That’s where we are right now. First, Gottheimer and company blew up the deal for a two-track passage of the bipartisan infrastructure deal along with the reconciliation package — and they blew it up for transparently bullshit reasons. The entire fucking point of that deal was to keep faith between a small group of outliers and the rest of the caucus, and the outliers blew it up. And now Manchinema are jerking the president around:
“I don’t know what more he can do,” [Senate Majority Whip Dick] Durbin told NBC News. “He calls them down to the White House frequently, you know, pretty soon they’re going to get nameplates on the door, they’re down there so often.”
Both centrist senators remain tight-lipped on giving the President a top line number nor providing specific demands on what tweaks they would like to see in the reconciliation package.
Like I said, maybe it’ll work out in the end. I can easily envision Dems reaching some sort of painful accommodation that forces removal of most reconciliation provisions that offend No Labels donors. If that leaves a package that fucks Americans out of the desperately needed social spending Biden and the Democrats campaigned on (including the obstructionists!) but still seriously addresses the existential threat of climate change, the overwhelming majority of Democrats who support the Biden agenda, i.e., all but a dozen or so show ponies, would probably pass that bill, and we’d end up with the usual shit sandwich that everyone is used to choking down.
But it looks like there’s a serious possibility that Sinemanchin will refuse to budge until the infrastructure bill passes. If Sinema and/or Manchin do insist on passage of the infrastructure bill without committing to passing a broadly acceptable reconciliation bill too, Democrats should tank the goddamn bipartisan bill — preferably with Biden’s explicit blessing. The obstructionists can’t be trusted since they already broke the two-track agreement, so they shouldn’t get to play Lucy the football holder.
I’m usually a “half a loaf is better than none” person, but this behavior from the obstructionists is intolerable and cannot be allowed to succeed. Obviously, it will be terrible if the whole thing blows up and nothing passes. In that scenario, 100% of the Beltway press and many loosely affiliated voters will conclude that Democrats can’t govern. But IMO, caving in to the obstructionists’ demands would be worse for the party than acquiescing for what is essentially a glorified “bipartisan” highway bill because it would brand us as the party of Manchin and Sinema.
Better to tank the bill and run as the anti-fascist, anti-corruption party that needs more seats so it can govern effectively than to make those two corrupt and vain shit-stains the face of the party. The first look is weak, and that’s not good, but at least there’s a possibility for strengthening. The second confirms regular people’s worst fears about politics and will make the ubiquitous “both sides” lies ring true.
Enough of this bullshit already. Pass both, or pass none.