EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.
Will America finally begin to address the cascading crises it faces? This week will provide an initial test. First up is the Senate’s vote on the bipartisan infrastructure deal. Too many media voices have already begun celebrating the “courage” of the negotiators, with Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) taking plenty of bows. Progressives in the House and Senate are warning, however, that the infrastructure bill won’t get to the president’s desk unless Sinema and Senator Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) help pass a budget reconciliation bill that addresses vital unmet needs. This is portrayed as a conflict pitting the left against the center but, in this battle, progressives represent the real center—the broad majority of Americans demanding action—and carry the last best hope for Democrats, and perhaps democracy itself to survive the next elections.
While the infrastructure deal’s architects are hailing it as proof that bipartisan cooperation is possible, in fact, the deal is both inadequate and disingenuous. Its inadequacy is illustrated by the hundreds of millions of dollars cut from the original administration proposal: no more funding for research and development, for US manufacturing, for public housing, schools and child-care centers, for home and community-based care, or for clean-energy tax credits. The bill also cuts proposed funding for public transit by half, for electric vehicles by 90 percent and for broadband by a third.
The bill is disingenuous both on the spending side and on the revenue side. To lower the bill’s price tag without totally gutting the programs, the bill uses a five-year timeline as opposed to the eight years in the original Biden plan. Because Republicans refuse to consider raising taxes on the rich and the corporations—which most Americans sensibly favor—or even empowering the IRS to collect taxes that the wealthy already owe, the bill offers gimmicks such as collecting unpaid taxes on cryptocurrencies and reclaiming past coronavirus aid funds. Almost half of the supposed $1 trillion price tag is from money already authorized.
Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.