August 12, 2021

It's important that Democrats understand this, because we always see the glass as half empty. John Avlon's Reality Check segment looked at the significance of Biden's infrastructure bill.

"In boxing terms, it was a little like Muhammad Ali's rope-a-dope. Weeks of body blows, predicting the failure of Biden's bipartisan infrastructure plan," Avlon said.

"He was derided as a 'past his prime' fighter, and it was a naive dream that always seemed on the verge of collapse. But Biden absorbed it all, leaning into the ropes, not overreacting to the outrage du jour, playing the long game. And in the end, after plenty of give and take, the president walked away with a $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan, securing 19 Republican votes in the Senate. That kind of margin seemed impossible even a week ago.

"And so, after years of promises that made Infrastructure Week the national punchline, there are billions of dollars for roads and bridges, public transit, rural broadband, clean water and a clean energy electric grid, as well as electric vehicle charging stations and investment in climate change mitigation. This is a BFD, to use Biden's phrase after the Affordable Care Act passed along partisan lines 14 months into Obama's presidency. In half that time, and with a far smaller margin in the House and Senate, Biden has secured a series of big spending legislative victories.

"First, there was the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which included a massive expansion of the child tax credit. Then the Senate passed a bipartisan bill to compete with China through $200 billion in science and technology manufacturing and research. Yesterday, Senate Democrats also passed the $3.5 trillion budget resolution without GOP support, includes universal pre-k, free two-year community college, as well as investment in affordable housing, to name a bit.

"There is still a lot of work to be done. The House needs to pass the infrastructure and China bills. Plenty of urgent priorities remain stalled, from police reform to election reform. Democrats will squabble over the details of budget reconciliation while Republicans will attack unprecedented spending, and point towards rising signs of inflation. But for better or worse, big things are getting done and it's important it to try to view that with a sense of perspective.

"Because even after a bitter election capped by an attempted insurrection, with razor-thin margins, Biden has cobbled together a pretty impressive first-year legislative record that stands up to major recent precedence. For example, by August in his first year in office, Reagan had secured a revolutionary tax cut package with bipartisan support and ultimately changed the trajectory of American politics. Biden is betting he can have a similar effect.

"In some ways, it's an update of an earlier mid-century, middle class-boosting liberalism. And while LBJ entered office after JFK's assassination with Democratic supermajorities in Congress, it's his glad-handed legislative ambition that Biden most closely resembles, according to historian and CEO of the LBJ Foundation, Mark Updegrove. 'With his legislative accomplishments, Joe Biden has shown himself to be the most progressive president since Lyndon Johnson. Like LBJ, Biden is a creature of the Senate. Success is due in large part to influence behind the scenes, rallying and pressing former colleagues on both sides of the aisle to come together.' "

"Presidential style aside, there is a final real dollars and cents comparison. If, as projected, Biden's infrastructure spending equals 2.5% of GDP, that would approach levels of infrastructure investment we haven't seen as a country since the New Deal.

"So, yeah, that's a big f-ing deal, and that's your reality check."

Can you help us out?

For 17 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We are currently migrating to Disqus

On May 14, 2022, we started migrating our comments from Insticator back to Disqus. During this transition period, some posts will have Insticator and some Disqus. For more information on the transition, as well as information regarding old C&L accounts, please see this post.

We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.