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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

The Biden Administration is savoring one of the most significant legislative victories any president has achieved since the Johnson Administration. In his article, “Good job, Biden. Now comes the hard part” at The week, David Faris writes, “President Biden and his Democratic allies are riding high after Congress passed the expansive COVID-19 relief and stimulus package on Wednesday. And they deserve to take a victory lap, because the American Rescue Plan promises to ignite a broad economic recovery and realizes long-sought progressive goals like direct cash payments to parents….Despite the bill’s messy and divisive denouement in the Senate, and the failure to include a minimum wage hike, the stimulus package should be seen as the cherry on top of a hugely successful first seven weeks in office for Biden. It is also, however, likely the end of the easy wins for Democrats and the start of a much more challenging period of steering legislation through a closely divided Congress.” Regarding filibuster reform, Faris adds, “President Biden himself has remained maddeningly coy on the subject. Given the speed with which he plowed ahead with the stimulus package without any Republican support, it’s safe to assume that despite his campaign theme of unity and bipartisanship, he is under no illusions about the prospect of Republican buy-in for other priorities like voting rights.”

Faris notes Biden’s other accomplishments: “In addition to the relief bill, the president used the Defense Production Act to turbocharge COVID-19 vaccine production and signed a flurry of Executive Orders, effectively vaporizing former President Trump’s policy legacy by, among other things, reversing the controversial travel ban from seven Muslim-majority countries, halting construction of the border wall, rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, canceling the Keystone XL pipeline project, and lifting the immigration restrictions imposed under the cover of COVID….With a few effortless strokes of a pen, President Biden was able to wipe away pretty much everything Trump did except the 2019 tax cuts and the far right’s successful takeover of the federal judiciary…But these victories also mark the end of the new president’s honeymoon period. The low hanging fruit has been plucked, eaten, and juiced. The harder work begins today, and the president must soon make some more difficult choices. He will never be more popular, and Democrats have more leverage today than they will for the rest of this congressional term. House Democrats and nearly all of the party’s Senate caucus are on board with an aggressive agenda, including shoring up voting rights and democracy with the newly-passed For the People Act (H.R. 1), granting statehood to Washington, D.C., and possibly Puerto Rico, raising the minimum wage, reinvesting in America’s decaying infrastructure, reforming immigration rules, and following through on the president’s campaign promise of adding a “public option” to the Affordable Care Act’s health-care framework.” All in all, a pretty remarkable tally of accomplishments for the first six weeks of  Biden’s Administration and the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate.

Democrats did a great job of passing the Covid relief and stimulus package. But Dems need to do a better job of the “aftersale” than was done after the enactment of the Affordable Care Act. They must explain to the public the legislation’s impressive benefits for working people, the poor and children, as well as everyone concerned about the pandemic. It appears that impeachment 2.0 and even the Republican riot in the capitol did not distract Democrats from getting the pandemic relief and stimulus legislation passed. Biden deserves lots of credit for keeping his eyes o the prize, and not getting suckered into the weeds. But now Dems should get focused on making sure the public knows all the ways this egislation is good for America. As Greg Sargent explains at The Plum Line, “Though public support for the package is overwhelming, events will intervene and voters will forget a good deal about what just happened, even as they benefit from its provisions. So Democrats must be relentless in telling them what’s in it and in highlighting how it’s improved their lives.” Sargent repoprts that the White House is gearing up to meet this challenge. But follow-through by all Dems is everything. Let it be a rare exercize in Democratic message discipline for the next few weeks and again in the closing weeks of the 2022 election. Democrats can not count on the media to do justice to the relief package. It will be quickly forgotten, otherwise. The public has a short memory and no Dems should expect automatic gratitude.

At The American Prospect, co-editor Robert Kuttner does a good job of putting this historic legislative achievement in perspective in his editorial “A Stunning Day.”

“Something extraordinary happened today which is worth celebrating—the most far-reaching expansion of government help to children and families since FDR.

A year ago, a universal basic income was a radical fringe idea. Well, we’ve just enacted it for families with children. And once in place, this will prove almost impossible to dislodge.

Imagine the politics next fall when Democrats propose making the child tax credit permanent, and Republicans propose a massive tax increase on American families. My sources say Biden is committed to making this policy permanent.

Consider the arithmetic. A family with two parents and three kids will be getting about $14,000 a year. It just happens that this is almost identical to what a minimum-wage job pays if you work full-time ($7.25 an hour times 2,000 hours).

This is revolutionary, and will compel employers to pay a great deal more to get workers.

Think of what it took to make this transformative social policy mainstream. It took a pandemic. It took the improbable Democratic victories in Georgia to get 50 Senate votes. It took rare Democratic unity. And it took the radicalization of one Joe Biden.

Even more remarkably, while the two previous transformative Democratic presidents, LBJ and FDR, had huge Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate, Biden has done it with fumes.

Sometimes, things break right. It’s a day to celebrate.”

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