This was written a couple of months ago.
President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan has been inadequately covered by the press. The mainstream media is trying to tell us that there is a constant fight or friction between the White House, House Democrats, and Senate Democrats. Of all of the players in this drama, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, my home state, has been getting the most press. I’m sorry: I don’t believe that any of these bills should be covered like a horse race or a heavyweight boxing match. Instead, there needs to be more discussion about what is exactly in the bill.
So, let’s look at exactly whom this bill is designed to help—because really, it’s all of us!
Kids and families
First of all, Build Back Better is about investing in the American people. A large portion of this bill has to do with investing in children and childcare. There are billions of dollars in this bill to make childcare affordable. The bill offers universal and free preschool to three and four-year-old children. There is also a large child tax credit—in the form of a monthly check—that can help as many as 39 million households move out of poverty.
On the other end of the spectrum, a portion of this bill was designed to keep the elderly in their homes by helping them afford home care instead of having to go into nursing homes (and often, sell off most of their assets, leaving less equity for their children and grandchildren). The bill also expands the Affordable Care Act, giving families on the lower end of the income spectrum better opportunities for decent, affordable healthcare; and it extends the earned income tax credit, offering millions of low-earning families a better way of life.
The middle class
Build Back Better invests in the middle class in other ways, such as making high-quality education affordable to the middle class—a.k.a. average Americans—and helping them afford better housing.
Facing climate change
Another section of this bill is designed to fight climate change. It includes consumer rebates and tax credits for middle-class families to be able to afford switching to clean energy. A portion of this bill encourages clean energy companies to build their products here in the United States. It also encourages them to use American steel in their products.
And not only that, the bill also gives us a much-needed investment into immigration reform. Wow, that’s a lot of good stuff!!
Build Back Better all sounds nice. These policies will help Americans in the short term and the long term. By investing in our people, and helping people get back to work, and have more money to spend, they will help the economy grow. It will create millions of jobs.
Corporate welfare reform
The bill stops large corporations from paying zero federal taxes. It will penalize them for shipping jobs overseas—and for shipping profits overseas in order to avoid paying American taxes. It will ask the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share.
Oh, and Build Back Better is also paid for. Ignore the baloney about “inflation” and “deficit spending.” This bill is paid for by tax reform and the increased tax revenues from all those new jobs and a growing economy—and by adding enforcers to find high-income tax cheats, an effort that is expected to bring in another $500 billion in taxes avoided by the likes of the Trumps and their friends.
Perfect? No. But better by far
This bill is not perfect. This bill will help lower-income Americans, middle-class Americans, hard-working everyday Americans, begin to get ahead. And it does address a lot of the inequity that we see in the United States—in part by reining in the excesses of the past 40 years of giveaways to the rich and well connected.
Could it be even better? Of course! But as the adage says, the perfect shouldn’t be the enemy of the good. Remember, this is Build Back Better, not Build Back Best. Even the Founding Fathers stated that our Constitution was designed “to create a more perfect union.” Not a perfect one, but one that’s always finding ways to perfect itself. Better. More perfect. Building Back Better.
Several months ago, we saw a wave of bills introduced into state legislatures which were aimed at restricting voting. I personally believe that this is wrong. I believe that this is anti-American. I believe that every American should support the idea that every eligible American should be able to vote without intimidation. Voting should be easy. It should be easier to vote than it is to buy a gun.
Now, even Joe Manchin has introduced a voting rights bill that he believes can succeed. All 50 Republican senators—100%—have filibustered it four times. It’s time to get rid of the filibuster to protect the most fundamental right of all Americans—the right to vote for the government they choose.
The return of Donald Trump is like the villain, Thanos, in The Avengers series, who said he was “inevitable.” The mistake that progressives made in 2016 is that we never took Donald Trump seriously. We cannot make that mistake again. We must convince millions of Trump followers that Donald Trump is anti-American. Donald Trump does not believe in democracy. Donald Trump does not believe in equality. Donald Trump does not believe in women’s rights. Donald Trump does not believe in America.
We must convince average Americans that we, progressives, are in their corner. We have to show them that tax cuts for the rich have done nothing but hurt their lives. We have to point out that Donald Trump and the Republicans have supported corporations shipping jobs overseas. This is what has killed middle America.
We must tattoo Donald Trump with the January 6th insurrection. We must remember that without Donald Trump, there is no insurrection. He is the one who whipped his supporters into a frenzy with false claims of election fraud. He’s the one who invited his supporters to Washington, DC to shut down the government. He’s the one who held a rally that told him that his supporters must be strong. He told them they couldn’t get anywhere with weakness. He wound supporters up like a top, then let them lay siege to the United States Capitol.
The resulting chaos and violence should not have been a surprise. Yet we must not forget. We must always associate the attack on our US Capitol with Donald Trump.
Virginia’s governor’s race
Former Governor Terry McAuliffe lost his bid for another term as governor of Virginia. Republican and Trump acolyte Glenn Youngkin won. We can be sad for Virginia that they chose this guy, but … somehow, the mainstream media is spinning this is a loss for Joe Biden.
First of all, I am not sure that Terry McAuliffe is the best candidate in Virginia. As you know, he is tied to Bill Clinton, which brings its own set of baggage. Second, I am not sure how well Democrats communicated with educated, middle-class white folks—specifically, educated white women. This is a segment of the population that has to be convinced that Democrats are in the corner.
Third, Democrats must be motivated to go to the polls. Republicans will vote in a snowstorm on Sunday. In order to win, Democrats have to be motivated and have to have an outstanding get out the vote effort. They didn’t. Is this Joe Biden’s fault? I doubt it, but it is important for Democrats to remember that Trump was not running and was not in office. We needed to prove that we had a plan to help the middle class move forward. I’m not sure that we did this.
Finally, McAuliffe said in a TV ad that parents should not tell schools what they should teach. Although this sounds benign, it is not. Americans believe that they should have input into what is taught in schools. This is a fundamental American belief. This was a huge, unnecessary, self-inflicted wound that should have been avoided.
It was the sort of gaffe that all candidates make—but if a Democrat makes such a careless misstatement, it gets rebroadcast every day, every hour, every fifteen minutes, on every conservative, Republican-leaning radio station, TV network (Fox News), website, and blog until election day. Democrats don’t have such an official party-line media structure, so Republican gaffes are soon forgotten, or ignored (with the rare exception like Mitt Romney’s “Corporations are people, my friends”). But Democrats have to be three times as careful not to say stupid things on the campaign trail!
Where do we go from here? We need to contact our representatives in the House and the Senate and let them know that we support Build Back Better and the John Lewis Voting Right Act. We need to let our elected representatives know that we want them to support progress.
Let them know that we want to strengthen the middle class. Let them know that we want to lift up the lower class. Let them know that we believe in a living wage. Please let them know that we don’t want excuses: we want to know how can we get this done.
Joe Biden has said something along these lines: “We can’t grow the economy from the top down. It doesn’t work, as 40 years of Reaganism have proven. Instead, we want to grow the economy from the middle out, and from the bottom up.”
We want results. This is the only way we can move America forward.