May 19, 2024

Republican poison pill

Today’s Events in Historical Perspective
America’s Longest-Running Column Founded 1932
The Republican poison pill
By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift
          WASHINGTON — Republicans are about to swallow a poison pill. They are about to return Blue Collar voters back to their Democratic fold. Here is why. Here is how.
          The inequities in our democratic system are glaringly obvious when 50 Democrats in the Senate represent 43 million more people than their 50 Republican colleagues. When the Democrats are unified and the two parties are tied, the vice president can break the tie. But then there’s the filibuster, and if 50 Democrats can’t get 10 Republicans to join them to reach 60 and break the filibuster, legislation fails, and 43 million people are disenfranchised.
          The Founding Fathers could not have envisioned such disparity between the states. They devised a representative democracy that in 1787 ensured the smallest state of Rhode Island an equal voice with Virginia with 10 times the population.
          Today, Wyoming with less than 600,000 population has two senators while California, home to almost 40 million people, has just two senators, a disparity that greatly advantages the small, sparsely populated state’s self-interest over the needs of a much larger urban and diverse population.
          Throw into this mix Republican leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and his ability to stop the Senate from even debating legislation, as he did last week when he invoked the filibuster to block a voting rights bill.
          Despite all that, President Biden may have found a crack in McConnell’s stone wall. After meeting Thursday at the White House with a bipartisan group of senators about a $1.2 trillion dollar infrastructure bill, Biden declared, “We have a deal,” a statement that seems to vindicate, at least for now, his belief that Republicans would be more willing to work with Democrats once the former president was gone.
          It isn’t exactly the “epiphany” Biden once imagined, but it is a breakthrough based on mutual self-interest of the two parties, which is the way politics is supposed to work. Politicians love infrastructure, it’s how they bring home the bacon to their constituents. And Biden has smartly framed infrastructure spending as a jobs bill with the potential to reach deep into Blue Collar America with good jobs that can transform despair with the reality of economic opportunity.
          The bipartisan senators and the White House have not identified how they will pay for their deal (borrowing at 1.5 percent interest would be a good idea).  Each side has its red line. Biden would not agree to raise taxes at the gas pump, and Republicans will not touch Trump’s corporate tax cut. How they resolve this impasse is yet to be determined, and for Democrats, getting this legislation is so critical they should be prepared to do whatever it takes for passage. Why? Because when Blue Collar voters realize Democrats put them back to work in good-paying jobs, many of them will undoubtedly turn once again to Democratic candidates just as they did in the 1950s and 60s.
          Douglas Cohn’s latest books are World War 4: Nine Scenarios (endorsed by seven flag officers) and The President’s First Year: The Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency.
          Twitter:  @douglas_cohn
          © 2021 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
          Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.

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