Time For Moderates to Step Up

Well, that was easy.

Last night the House finally passed the bipartisan infrastructure bill that they should have passed in August. It was the right thing to do from a policy perspective, but how much good it will do the Democrats politically is very much an open question.

Three months of wrangling squandered the party’s chance to show that they were the folks who could make Washington work. It’s too late for that now. The best they can do is to promote the hell out of what they’ve passed. Biden and Democratic legislators should wear out several shovels at ground breakings next spring.

We’re only at this point because House progressives stubbornly insisted on holding the infrastructure bill hostage to their social/climate spending plan. That was a mistake from the start. It would have been far better to pass that bipartisan bill quickly, giving both them and Biden a big win right out of the box. Success can be addictive. It would have created momentum for some form of social/climate bill that certainly would not have passed any later that what might gain approval now.

But all that’s just polluted water under a shaky bridge now. The progressives finally caved and so now it’s time for the moderates to step up. They’ve agreed to vote for the latest iteration of social/climate legislation provided that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office confirms that it really will cost $1.85 trillion over ten years.

The moderates shouldn’t quibble over the exact price tag. Whatever the CBO report says, they should find a way to make peace with the progressives and pass something. Anything. I don’t care all that much what it is in and what is out. Everything in Biden’s original $3.5 trillion plan was good stuff. I liked it all. Any part of it represents a step forward, so just make some damn progress, and then promote the hell out of that as well.

Before we go, let’s give credit where it’s due. The long-suffering House Speaker Nancy Pelosi deserves another round of applause. Just as she engineered passage of Obamacare over a decade ago, she got the sausage made this time too. “Welcome to my world — this is the Democratic Party,” Pelosi told reporters at the Capitol as she announced the postponement of the social policy bill. “We are not a lock-step party.”

Ya think? No, Democrats are sure as heck not a lock-step party, but they’re a heck of a lot better than the other guys. I’ve been (sadly) convinced that the survival of American liberal democracy depends on the policy and political success of the Democrats. But they never make it easy, do they?

Progressives finally got out of their own way yesterday. Now it’s time for my people, the moderate wing of the party, to do the same.

Welcome to the 262nd day of consecutive 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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