Sunday, March 7, 2021

Political Fluidity

A reader sent me the link to this good takedown of Neera Tanden, posted before she abandoned her quest to be head of the Office of Management and Budget.  He commented (referring to Biden, of course), "He's already worse than you expected :) "

Well, no.  While it's painful to have to admit it, I actually expected Biden to be a lot worse.  That doesn't mean I think he's good: his foreign policy moves have been terrible overall: dragging his feet on re-entering the JCPOA, continuing Trump's murderous support of a would-be dictator in Venezuela (though to be fair, Trump merely continued and escalated Obama's and Bush's policy there), illegally bombing Syria.  I'm unhappy that he let the $15 minimum wage go, and that he lied about the $2000 stimulus payment, and I'm unhappy not only about his patronage appointment of Neera Tanden but of Pete Buttigieg and Anthony Blinken.

But -- and this is a significant but -- he held firmer on the $1.9 trillion "rescue" package than I expected, he's reversed some of Trump's worst executive orders, he endorsed unionization not only for Amazon workers but for all workers.  While he shrank the pool of recipients for the remaining stimulus payments, the payments will not be $1400 per household but $1400 per person: families of four will get $5600.  It looks like the rescue bill could pass this week.  At the moment it looks like we have a chance at the elimination of the filibuster, and Bernie Sanders and others will keep pushing on the $15 minimum wage -- it doesn't seem that Biden is the obstacle on that.

It occurred to me that a lot of the derision over the idea that progressives would push Biden to the left was misconceived.  Success wouldn't mean that Biden would join the Democratic Socialists, or that his every move would be leftist.  Leftists have been disagreeing vehemently about what they wanted Biden and the Congressional Dems to do, so it's not obvious what a leftist Biden would choose to do. Pushing Biden to the left means pressuring him not to surrender to Blue MAGA / centrist (let alone Republican pressure), and that has largely succeeded.  He simply brushed aside the Senate GOP's "compromise" $600 billion stimulus package. More and more Democrats are recognizing that Biden's bill, contrary to GOP whining, is "bipartisan," for a majority of Republican voters support its provisions even if the GOP elites do not.  He didn't listen to Larry Summers's predictions of doom.  He seems to be supporting the next big Congressional bill to protect voting rights.  I really did not expect even this much from him.

Which doesn't mean it's enough, or that I'm going to relax my attention to his acts.  I'll leave that to Brunch Democrats, who are asleep now anyway, dreaming of Joe and Kamala kissing them goodnight.  I'm going to support the progressive and left members of Congress who are keeping the pressure on him and on their right-wing colleagues, and I'll criticize them when they screw up, as they are bound to do, as I'll criticize Biden.  (I strongly recommend that anyone interested read about Frances Perkins, FDR's Secretary of Labor, who worked very hard to keep him from selling out the positions and actions that won elections for him.)  But we need to recognize when he does good things, and the rescue bill is going to be one of them.  Let Biden know he's doing what we want, and by "we" I mean the majority of Americans. That doesn't bind us to uncritical support of hm by any means.  It doesn't mean hailing him even as a merely good president; it's too soon for that, and there's no need to do it; but it's fair to encourage him to do more and better.