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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

How Dems Can Still Win ‘Historic Reforms,’ Despite ‘Hard Choices’

Fom “Biden and the Democrats Need to Make Hard Spending Choices: Historic reforms are possible if the Party can agree on its priorities” by John Cassidy at The New Yorker:

“The first decision facing the White House now is a strategic one. Should it try and squeeze as many programs as it can into a smaller reconciliation bill, using delayed implementation dates, early sunsets, and other accounting ploys to hold down the over-all price tag? (During the Administrations of George W. Bush and Donald Trump, Republicans successfully employed similar tactics to pass hefty tax cuts that primarily benefitted large corporations and the rich.) Or should Biden try to focus the bill on a handful of his top priorities, insuring that these programs get adequately funded for longer, an approach that would make it harder for Republicans to roll them back in a future Congress? The first option may well be the easiest to sell to individual Democrats on the Hill, who each have their own priorities, and it appears to be the favored option of some prominent progressives. The second option, by providing more clarity to voters, could conceivably work out better for Biden and the Party as a whole going into the 2022 midterms and the 2024 Presidential election, and it could also make it more likely that the policy changes stick.

“I think some of my fellow progressives who want to do everything for a few years are making a big mistake,” Robert Greenstein, a veteran budget analyst who has worked with Democrats and is now at the Brookings Institution, told me on Monday. “The idea that all this stuff will be so popular that the Republicans will roll over and extend everything is extremely naïve—and dangerous. Trying to do everything for a short time is a recipe for ending up with little that is enduring over the long term.”

Cassidy urges Biden and Democrats to focus on thr Child Tax Credit, “paid medical and family leave for all American workers, affordable child care, and universal preschool for all three-year-old and four-year-old children,” pared-down ‘green proposals,” community college support, expanding Medicaid and “shaming Manchin and Sinema into supporting a long-overdue measure to allow Medicare to negotiate the prices that it pays for prescription drugs.”

Acknowledging that “There are other ways to do the math and split the pot, of course,” Cassidy argues, “But, if the White House is now fully committed to a much smaller total spending cap, choices have to be made. By centering the reconciliation bill on five or six key elements of the original Build Back Better Plan, Biden could argue to voters that he was fulfilling his electoral promises. To progressives, he could say that, despite the lower cap, he was still making some transformative reforms.”

One comment on “How Dems Can Still Win ‘Historic Reforms,’ Despite ‘Hard Choices’

  1. pjcamp on

    Delayed implementation = somebody else gets credit. We’ve been down this road too many times.

    Every other priority is irrelevant in the face of climate change. Deal with that adequately first and then add on as much more as you can. And for god’s sake stop talking about the total amount of money spent and start talking relentlessly and non-stop about the NET amount of money spent. Almost all of this bill is paid for and it will add very little to the debt. Manchin, by the way, knows this damn well.


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