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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 7/27/21

Joe Biden's Relapse into Hallucinations About GOP Leaders

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Message Norman Solomon

I WELCOME THEIR HATRED! .They are unanimous in their hate for me--and I welcome their hatred!!. Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Presidential Election of 1936 Links: ...
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For a while, President Biden seemed to be recovering from chronic fantasies about Republicans in Congress. But last week he had a relapse -- harming prospects for key progressive legislation and reducing the already slim hopes that the GOP can be prevented from winning control of the House and Senate in midterm elections 15 months from now.

Biden's reflex has been to gladhand his way across the aisle. On the campaign trail in May 2019, he proclaimed: "The thing that will fundamentally change things is with Donald Trump out of the White House. Not a joke. You will see an epiphany occur among many of my Republican friends." A year and a half later, the president-elect threw some bipartisan bromides into his victory speech -- lamenting "the refusal of Democrats and Republicans to cooperate with one another," contending that the American people "want us to cooperate," and pledging "that's the choice I'll make."

But the notion of cooperating with Republican leaders like Sen. Mitch McConnell and Rep. Kevin McCarthy was always a fool's errand. That reality might as well have been blinking in big neon letters across the Capitol Dome since January, as Republicans continually doubled down on complete intransigence. By early March, when the landmark American Rescue Plan squeaked through Congress, Biden had new reasons to wise up.

Passage of the $1.9 trillion measure, Biden said, "proves we can do big things, important things in this country." But passage also proved that every Republican in the House and Senate is dedicated to stopping this country from doing "big, important things." The American Rescue Plan got through Congress without a single Republican vote.

As the American Prospect's executive editor, David Dayen, pointed out at the time, many of the major gains in the rescue package were fundamental yet fragile. While purported "free-market solutions" had been set aside, crucial provisions were put on a timer to sunset: "We have the outline of a child allowance but it expires in a year. The [Affordable Care Act] subsidies expire in two years. The massive expansion of unemployment eligibility for a much wider group of workers is now done on Labor Day weekend. There's a modicum of ongoing public investment, but mostly this returns us to a steady state, with decisions to make from there."

Whether progress can be sustained and accelerated during the next several years will largely depend on ending Republican leverage over the Senate via the filibuster and preventing a GOP congressional majority from taking hold in January 2023. The new temporary measures, Dayen notes, could all be made permanent, "with automatic stabilizers that kick in during downturns, and Federal Reserve bank accounts for every American to fill when needed. We could ensure that federal support sustaining critical features of public life remains in place. We could choose to not build a pop-up safety net but an ongoing one."

The obstacles to enacting long-term structural changes will be heightened to the extent that Biden relapses into a futile quest for "bipartisanship." This year, the GOP's methodical assaults on voting rights -- well underway in numerous states controlled by Republican legislatures and governors -- could be somewhat counteracted by strong, democracy-oriented federal legislation. And that won't happen if the Senate filibuster remains in place.

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Yankeestorm is a Nashville, TN attorney and the baseball expert on "Prime Time Sports" 1510 WLAC. A native a Newark, NJ, Norm is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and Drake Law. He currently resides in Nashville.

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