Much like their president, Democrats on Capitol Hill have created a self-imposed crisis for which all the possible solutions carry significant downside risk. They famously seek to ram through the equivalent of an all-you-can-eat buffet of government intervention – cleverly marketed as “human infrastructure” – to the tune of $3.5 trillion. And that is on top of the $1 trillion bipartisan bill recently agreed to in the Senate, but still unresolved in the House because AOC-style progressives say they won’t support one bill without the other.
While it is still possible that both bills pass in some form, it is now looking more likely that both could go down in flames, along with the Democrats’ socialist dreams – and their prospects for 2022.
And so, the Democrats’ ever so tentative hold on legislative power reaches a tipping point of their own making. They have by most accounts misread their mandate from voters, believing their narrow victories in 2020 empower them to dramatically expand the federal government’s involvement in our lives – from cradle to grave. But that is hardly the message conveyed by the electorate. The election outcome was based on little more than Joe Biden not being Donald Trump.
With Democrats barely clinging to power in Congress, they could pull back the reins and go for a smaller package more acceptable to an already overtaxed citizenry – and their own dissenting voices. Problem is, now that their wildest spending plans have gone public, the bar for systemic reform has been raised to dizzying heights. Failure to pass a massive package of radical reforms would hardly be viewed as a badge of honor with the voters, either. Instead, it would stand as a failure of sufficient magnitude to repel independent voters and significantly suppress their own voter turnout in 2022.
If the spending plan does pass at the current supersized level, somehow overcoming the very public objections of at least two senators, Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), they must understand it will almost certainly cost them control of Congress. A massive restructuring of the relationship between government and the people is most decidedly not what Biden supporters voted for in 2020. Nowhere in exit polling exists evidence that voters were demanding radical change. That is hardly surprising since, between the pandemic, economic collapse, massive unemployment, and frightening urban unrest, they had already seen more than enough upheaval, thank you.
Democrats will in the end likely find some face-saving way to ram through a shrunken version of their human infrastructure plan that will satisfy the senators in their own ranks who are essentially holding this socialist wish list hostage. But if the package is too small, progressives claim they will use their leverage to try and make it larger again by refusing to vote for the first bipartisan bill – knowing Nancy Pelosi needs virtually every Democrat to vote for passage.
Oh, what a tangled web we weave when we practice to deceive. In this case, it’s a matter of deceiving the voters into thinking you’ll govern moderately and responsibly, seeking the unity to which this president pays such great lip service, and then actually ruling radically, recklessly and divisively.
The Democrats are acting like the witching hour is approaching when the all-you-can-eat tax-and-spend buffet will shut down. They are loading up their plates with everything left on the salad bar (all the new programs that will fit into a package that only requires a majority vote in the Senate), intending that no food (socialist initiatives) be left unconsumed. They are behaving as a party convinced of an impending bad result in the midterms, and thus making hay while the sun still shines, getting while the getting is still good. Desperation has a way of focusing the senses.
Perhaps leftists are already fully prepared to exchange significant reforms at this moment in time for a loss in next year’s midterms. They have certainly shown a willingness to do so in the recent past. In 2009, they did whatever it took to pass Obamacare and institutionalize government-run health care as a right, even knowing it would cost them dearly in the upcoming midterms – which it did. The left has proven itself willing to play the long game, because government is their god. It is the altar at which they worship, and they have historically demonstrated great patience in achieving objectives ranging from abortion on demand to gay marriage. In marked contrast, the right is focused on the private sphere, and is essentially involved in the functioning of government only because it must, just to stop the excesses of the left if nothing else. Government is largely joy for the left, drudgery for the right.
So is it any wonder the left gets fired up over new ways to reach into our pockets for yet more social justice schemes to serve as follow-ons to the failed welfare programs of days gone by? Passion for government is what fuels the left’s constant thought, planning, dreaming, and scheming – all centered around a powerful, beneficent central state leveling the playing field, enforcing equity, assuring the needs of all are met.
In the end, what was designed as a plan to satisfy that passion in the Bernie Sanders-inspired socialist wing of the party to restructure the existing order has resulted in Democrats boxing themselves into a corner. They have promised one thing, and now they plan to deliver something very different. They have left themselves at best half a loaf – a stark choice between victory either on policy now or in elections next year – but not both.
~ Read more from Tim Donner.