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How Dysfunctional Is Our Democracy? We'll Find Out Today

"We're either on the verge showing our democracy can deliver on its promises or that our democracy dysfunctions," John Avlon said.
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John Avlon says today's event will tell us a lot about where we are as a nation.

"This is a make or break day. Because in less than 24 hours, we're going to know if the U.S. government suffered another self-inflicted shutdown," he said.

"We'll know if Democrats can come together to pass a landmark infrastructure bill while paving the way for a Biden-defining budget. And we'll also have a better sense of whether the U.S. could default on its debt for the first time in our history. So yeah, some days matter more than others. And this is as big as it gets on Capitol Hill.

"Yes, Joe Biden's Democrats have a razor-thin margin in Congress. But here's what's really frustrating. We're as close as we have been in a half century to major infrastructure investment and closer than ever to a debt default. For all our divisions, these should be areas that unite us as Americans. Because they have been broad areas of consensus for both parties. Forget all the jokes about infrastructure week, because this has been a big goal going back decades."

REAGAN: This bill, which I look forward to signing, will speed the repair of our aging roads, bridges and transit systems.

GEORGE HW BUSH: The philosophy of this administration to invest in the future, to create new jobs and new opportunities for sustained economic growth.

BILL CLINTON: I think we should start by accelerating a renovation of our nation's highways, bridges, water and sewer systems.

GW BUSH: Our economy depends on us having the most efficient, reliable transportation system in the world.

OBAMA: The inadequate state, our addiction to foreign oil, our crumbling bridges, roads, and levees.

TRUMP: We're going to get this infrastructure going.

"After all that talk, President Biden finally corralled a bipartisan group of senators to pass a trillion dollar bill in August. This is a big win, ready for the taking, but House Republicans are reflexively whipping against it despite the fact that it would benefit many of their communities. while House progressives feel blindsided by the conscious uncoupling of the infrastructure bill from the bigger budget that would deliver more support for working and middle class families.

"Look, there is plenty of room to disagree about what are the sustainable levels of debt. It would be more convincing if Republicans didn't dismiss questions about how to pay for their tax cut, which was also passed in reconciliation. it's one thing to vote against raising the debt ceiling as Biden did in '06, but it's another thing entirely to filibuster it as Republicans are doing now. It isn't fiscally responsible. It's the opposite, especially because the debts we're paying were most recently racked up by Republicans during the Trump years.

"Government shutdowns also play into autocracies' claims that democracies are chaotic and ineffective. The next step, defaulting on our debt, would be catastrophic for the world economy. That's why presidents from both parties have warned against it.

"Here's the final insult. Today's deadline was entirely predictable. It didn't sneak up on us like an attack out of the blue or a global pandemic. We know when we're heading towards government shutdown or a collision with the debt ceiling. Democrats, particularly holdouts Manchin and Sinema, know this was the deadline for the Biden bills. But after 10 trips to the White House, they still haven't put down their bottom line for their basis for negotiation.

"That's not responsible. It's reckless. But difficulties are the excuse history never accepts. Today is not a drill. It's the real deal. We're either on the verge of showing that our democracy can deliver on its promises, or on the verge of showing our democracy's dysfunction. Chose wisely. And that's your reality check."

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