Dems Will Get It Done

Yesterday I sought to comfort panicky Brewers’ fans by reassuring them that their losing streak would end and they’d easily win their division. And last night the Crew beat the Mets, 5-1, and reduced their magic number to two. See?

So, today, let me bring comfort and joy to nervous Democrats. While talks between moderate and progressive Democrats on their hard and soft infrastructure bills have stalled out, they’ll pass something in the end.

This is sausage making, people. Each side has to posture for their constituencies, test the resolve of the other guys, put press releases in the bank for next year’s elections. And, of course, there are also some real policy differences.

For myself, I’m with the progressives on the substance and the moderates on the politics. If they could do it, I think the party should pass the biggest bills they can. That’s because they are almost sure to lose their majorities next year. This is an historic opportunity to strengthen the social safety net and deal with climate change. If history is any guide, the American people will punish them for their “tax and spend” policies, and then zealously guard against the repeal of so much as a dime of the new and expanded programs. The Democrats will get blamed for their big government policies while getting no credit at all for the actual benefits that people will enjoy. Being a Democrat is a thankless job. Literally.

But the above strategy is blocked by the moderates. They’re just not going to vote for $3.5 trillion, and they hold all the cards. In fact, the progressives are only in a position to demand that much because the moderates put them there. Without a handful of moderates winning House seats in swing districts (e.g. Ron KInd) and senators winning in hostile states (e.g. Joe Manchin) the party would be in the minority and all of their proposals would be dead on arrival.

So, clearly, the thing to do is to take what the moderates will give you, pass the damn bills, declare victory, take credit for every good thing that happens because of them and hope for the best a year from now.

And, after some more huffing and puffing, that’s what they’ll do, I hope sooner rather than later. That’s because it’s in the party’s best interests to get the road building going next spring and some of the other benefits in place even sooner so that voters can experience the progress in tangible terms. That’s their only chance — and it’s a slim one — to keep their majorities.

One last observation. It’s easy to miss the significance of this debate. It’s so wonderfully normal. This is the classic, ages-old and ultimately healthy tension between people who want government to do more and those who want it to do less. And it contains the likelihood — I would say the certainty — that something will pass in the end, that progress will be made, that government will work.

It might be ugly watching it being made, but you’re going to like that sausage once it’s off the grill.

Welcome to the 220th consecutive day of posts here at YSDA. Thanks for reading!


Published by dave cieslewicz

Madison/Upper Peninsula based writer. Mayor of Madison, WI from 2003 to 2011.

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