- Democrats want to get rid of Reagonomics, which cut social safety nets and taxes on the wealthy.
- President Joe Biden’s massive infrastructure proposal would do just that.
- But some moderates persevere and keep the passage of the full agenda.
Democrats have lived 40 years under Ronald Reagan’s legacy, and they’re itching to replace it with something else.
The last time they had gathered control of the White House and Congress, they used all of Barack Obama’s political capital to make the long-standing goal of universal health care a reality. Now they want to transform the US economy under Joe Biden.
The problem is that about a dozen moderates just don’t seem ready to let go of Reaganomics.
California progressive Ro Khanna told the Financial Times that a “few holdouts” were in jeopardy of what he called “the largest public social investment since the Great Society, in a clear rejection of neoliberalism in the Reagan and Thatcher years.”
Khanna referred to Thursday’s vote on a two-party proposal that was dragged on as progressives rebelled against the moderates’ reluctance to push for Biden’s full agenda.
Biden explained his agenda in an April speech to a joint session of Congress: “Economic demolition has never worked, and it’s time to grow the economy from the bottom up.” At a town hall three months later, Biden said, “I’m tired of seeping down,” and that it was time to move on.
The data support Biden’s argument: A study examining 50 years of tax cuts showed that cuts to the wealthy mostly benefit the rich and could lead to greater inequality.
Two bills to make the economic agenda a reality are currently being debated in Congress. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, or “BIF,” is a $ 1.2 trillion package that focuses on spending on things like roads and highways. As the name suggests, this plan was in part drafted by Republicans who voted for it to pass the Senate. The second proposal is a $ 3.5 trillion party reconciliation package that covers everything from universal pre-K to climate finance. It is the plan for human infrastructure, or “HIP”.
For months, progressives have said the two proposals should move together – a sentiment that was repeated by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Joe Biden. Progressives warned that they would torpedo any single bipartisan bill, as it does not allocate funds to major progressive priorities.
But as it became clearer that key moderates like Senator Joe Manchin were not on board with the size of the reconciliation proposal, Pelosi took a game and pushed for a vote on BIF. As warned, progressives withdrew. Now the Democrats are in disarray – and many are tired of key moderates – as they try to cut a path forward.
There is a huge split between centrists and progressives
The bid’s financial reprimand of the Reaganite trickle-down ideology, which would come in the form of trillions in infrastructure spending and tax increases targeting the highest-earning Americans, could still be torpedoed by moderates asking for a price cut.
For example, there is Manchin who told reporters this week “I have never been liberal in any way, shape or form.” And Senator Kyrsten Sinema, who has attracted anger from Democrats in her home state of Arizona, have said she will not support a bill that costs $ 3.5 trillion.
Manchin agrees. “What I have made clear to the President and Democratic leaders is that spending trillions more on new and expanded government programs when we can not even pay for the essential social programs, like Social Security and Medicare, is the definition of tax madness,” Said Manchin in one announcement this week.
As USA Today reports, the rep. Josh Gottheimer has come at the helm of the House’s moderates and has insisted that Parliament now vote on the bipartisan proposal. He told PBS that “we have to get both done,” but added, “you can not keep one, this infrastructure bill, while working on the other.”
But progressives like Ilhan Omar are pushing back on the centrist uprising.
—Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) October 1, 2021
It all signals a brewing greater struggle between the more progressive and moderate factions of the Democratic Party. Right now, the standoff game reflects the theoretical classic capture-dilemma of the standoff — which Insiders ‘Andy Kiersz and Joseph Zeballos-Roig report support the progressives’ current setbacks.
As key moderate Manchin told reporters this week about the warring factions: “I do not owe any of those who think they are much more progressive and much more liberal. God bless them. And everything they have to do must we choose more, I think, so that they get theirs – choose more liberals. ”