January 15, 2021

Our Pals over at Electoral-Vote give us some good news about President-elect Handsome Joe Biden’s economic plans:

It is called the “American Rescue Plan,” and it is only the first step in beating back the twin threats.

The plan has three parts:

  • $400 billion for more vaccines and testing and opening schools
  • $1 trillion for relief to families through direct payments and unemployment benefits
  • $440 billion for aid to states, local governments, and businesses

The plan includes the goal of getting 100 million people vaccinated within 100 days and reopening all K-12 schools in that same time period. The plan also includes some things that many Democrats want but which have little to do with the pandemic, such as raising the minimum wage to $15/hr. It also adds $1,400 to the direct payments Congress has already approved, bringing them to the $2,000 that Donald Trump called for, while also expanding the group of people eligible. It also provides for 14 weeks of sick leave and medical leave for workers.

The large price tag and inclusion of liberal priorities is certain to generate massive opposition from Republicans. Many Republicans have called for unity and bipartisanship and puppies and unicorns and rainbows. This puts their words to the test. If they say: “Of course we want to work together for the good of the country; if you would just carry out our program, we could achieve that,” then the President-elect knows it was all a smokescreen and they never had any intention of working with him. However, Biden also knows he can achieve most of his plan using the budget reconciliation process. Republican senators know that too, so the choice for them is to work with Biden to get his program through the Senate and get some of the credit for it or else oppose it from day 1, making it clear that they really have no interest in working with him, and then having the program rammed down their throats anyway via the reconciliation process. Logically, since they know it is going to happen with or without their help, they ought to help and get some of the credit. But politics being politics, we guess most of them will oppose the plan from the get go and force Biden to use plan B (which he is probably expecting anyway).

Axios has some more:

Public health is a centerpiece of the plan, with $160 billion earmarked for a broad range of programs, including coronavirus vaccination, testing, therapeutics, contact tracing, personal protective equipment and much more.

The overview: This bill is overwhelmingly about spending rather than taxes, although there are extensions to the child-care tax credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit and some health-care related credits.

Notably, it includes no “pay-fors.” Biden is not seeking to raise anybody’s taxes to pay for this.

  • Wages, however, are in there: The proposal includes a federal $15 minimum wage, and abolishes the lower minimum wage for people earning tips. It also includes 14 weeks of paid sick and family and medical leave.
  • Schools and transit systems get $170 billion and $20 billion respectively, after being largely left out of President Trump’s stimulus bills.
  • Spending on cyber-health is included, with $9 billion going toward beefing up the Cyber Security and Information Security Agency following the devastating Russian hack.
  • All told, the package is an implicit rebuke of the Trump administration and its otiose attitude toward pandemic response.

The bottom line: This proposal is about more than topping off the $600 stimulus checks Americans have already received with $1,400 more. It represents an unabashedly progressive agenda, centered on a strong and growing federal government.

  • If Biden succeeds in getting it passed, there’s a lot more where those ideas came from. A second part, which could be even bigger, will attempt to execute on his “Build Back Better” agenda of retooling the U.S. economy for an environmentally-sustainable future.

And now, we turn to The Coup Klux Klan to see what they are up to:

Now try getting out of the tree.

Axios’ morning email thingie gives us the Good News (emphasis theirs):

Republicans will emerge from the Trump era gutted financially, institutionally and structurally. The losses are stark and substantial:

  • They lost their congressional power.
  • Their two leaders, Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, are hamstrung by corporate blacklisting of their election-denying members.
  • The GOP brand is radioactive for a huge chunk of America.
  • The corporate bans on giving to the 147 House and Senate Republicans who voted against election certification are growing and virtually certain to hold.
  • The RNC is a shell of its former self and run by a Trump loyalist.
  • Democrats crushed them in fundraising when they were out of power. Imagine their edge with it.
  • Sheldon Adelson, the party’s biggest donor, died Monday.
  • The NRA is weaker than it has ever been, after massive leadership scandals.
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, once controlled by rock-ribbed Republicans, also gave to Democrats in 2020.
  • Rank-and-file Republicans are now scattered on encrypted channels like Signal and fearful of Big Tech platforms.

The big picture: Conservatives hold power in the courts and state legislatures, two foundational pieces to rebuilding their party. But they likely will face a raging internal war over policies and political leaders as they grapple with a post-Trump world — whenever that might be.

Not to be a bummer, but… we on the Left have a long, proud history of pulling defeat out of the jaws of victory. Even after saying that, this is a pretty good list of reasons to be mildly optimistic.

Republished with permission from Mock Paper Scissors

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