Now that President Biden’s $ 1.75 trillion Build Back Better package is dead upon entering the Senate, Democrats are scrambling to craft a new national agenda just 10 months before the 2022 midterm election.
This week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer rekindled Democratic pressure on voting rights legislation – and with it, reignited talks on repealing Senate filibustering in order to advance this legislation.
Schumer and Democrats who back the voting rights package and repeal the filibuster to pass the bill postulate that it is a necessary response to the various voting restriction bills that have been passed. adopted and enacted in Republican-controlled states last year.
Regardless of the merits of the voting rights package, two things are clear in practical terms.
First, the Voting Rights Bill died when it came to the Senate and will meet the same fate as the much-debated and ultimately unsuccessful Build Back Better package. Second, Democrats’ efforts to repeal filibuster will backfire – not only in the November election, but also after midterms if Democrats find themselves outnumbered in Congress, as many predict.
Clearly, Democrats only have to lose politically through back-to-back political failures and a desperate push to repeal the Senate filibuster.
Instead, Democrats led by President Biden need to focus on what they have and can accomplish, rather than what they cannot.
First, Biden and the Democrats need to talk about what they’ve actually accomplished with the help of the US bailout and the landmark bipartisan infrastructure bill. As Robert Shapiro wrote in the Washington Monthly at the end of last year, â€œBased on the data, President Biden and the Democratic Congress should preside over the best two-year performance in growth, jobs. and income for decades.
Second, Biden and the Democrats need to focus wholeheartedly in the first half of this year on crafting, promoting and passing workable centrist legislation that has a real impact on the top concerns of voters.
Namely, given the immigration crisis in our country – both at the border and in terms of the status of millions of hard-working undocumented immigrants – Democrats should strike a big deal with Republicans that involves secure the border once and for all by technological and physical means. barriers, as well as specific protections for those here in our country who pursue the American dream.
When it comes to the Build Back Better program, there are still elements that can and should be pursued through incrementalism.
Democratic leaders should move forward with specific policies within Build Back Better separately, forcing single, separate votes for each policy or area within the larger set on the basis of merit and attractiveness. policy of each policy.
Some of the first policies to be pursued within this framework could include the extension of the child tax credit; invest in new vocational training programs in the areas of public health, information technology, manufacturing and clean energy, including nuclear energy; and the creation of more affordable housing.
Not only would this approach force lawmakers on both sides to compromise question by question, it would be conducted in a simple and straightforward way that voters can understand, interact with, and ultimately give Democrats credit.
Moreover, this route would allow Democrats both to maintain fiscal discipline and to implement reforms supported by the majority of Americans.
To be sure, Democrats risk historic electoral defeats, worse than in 2010, if they do not make a critical strategic change in their national platform.
In my opinion, Democrats must resist calls from members of their own party to bypass bipartisanship by removing filibuster; and instead, must focus on developing a national agenda that focuses on fiscal accountability, incrementalism, and dealing with key national issues in a bipartisan fashion, such as immigration.
Douglas Schoen is a longtime Democratic political consultant.