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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 1/8/22

Act Two: The Apocalyptic Plot to Go After Voting Rights

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Remember when the Biden presidency was brand new and Democrats in the House and Senate proposed a sweeping, $6 trillion package to rebuild our social safety net, cut drug prices, upgrade our infrastructure, rescue our students and elderly, and save the environment?

As it was moving forward, a small group of Republicans and Democrats who call themselves the "corporate problem solvers caucus," told us that if they could just peel off the parts that involved actual physical construction of infrastructure into a separate bill, they'd get it going right away without having to worry about the filibuster.

The Democrats in the group promised to vote for the remainder of the legislation, now called Build Back Better, while at the same time they were working with their Republican colleagues to require that every penny in the "bipartisan infrastructure" bill be run through for-profit donor corporations via so-called "public-private partnerships" (Joe Manchin introduced the amendment for this: it's now law).

Progressives in the House tried to keep the two bills together so the "problem solver" Democrats like Manchin & Sinema couldn't drop Build Back Better, a valiant effort that required enormous guts and determination: Pramila Jayapal and the Progressive Caucus led the effort.

Toward the end, though, they had to let the "bipartisan infrastructure" bill go to the Senate after Biden was promised by the "corporate problem solver" Democrats that they'd vote for Build Back Better after just the "smallest" of tweaks.

Then we learned that Manchin and Sinema in the Senate, and Gottheimer, Schrader and a few others in the House, had all lied to their leadership. They had no intention of passing the complete bigger bill, which would have reduced profits for Big Pharma, Big Insurance and a half-dozen other industries that regularly and legally bribe those legislators who have their hands out.

By separating the legislation, the "problem solvers" have, for the moment, effectively killed President Biden's Build Back Better plan.

Get ready for Act Two. Only this time they're going after voting rights.

Following Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election, it's now obvious that we have a genuine crisis around the way we select a president, one that can be exploited by a politician committed to destroying democracy.

There are three solid pieces of legislation to insure voting rights and the integrity of the voting process - the For The People Act (HR 1), the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and the Freedom To Vote Act.

All three have passed the House of Representatives and are only held up by a 100% Republican filibuster in the Senate.

That filibuster can only be broken by ten Republicans giving in (not going to happen: the entire GOP is committed to voter suppression, dark money, and gerrymandering) or by a change to the filibuster in the Senate's rules (which takes 50 votes plus the VP).

The For The People Act is the most expansive of the three, regulating dark money in politics and bringing back publicly funded elections; as such it's the most-hated by Republicans and rightwing billionaires.

The watered-down version, the Freedom To Vote Act, is even co-sponsored by Joe Manchin, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act has the moral power of the nation's memory and admiration of civil rights giant John Lewis behind it.

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Thom Hartmann is a Project Censored Award-winning New York Times best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk program on the Air America Radio Network, live noon-3 PM ET. His most recent books are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights," "We The People," "What Would Jefferson Do?," "Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle (more...)

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