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Despite all of the efforts over many weeks by the Trumpist Republicans to paint the just-passed American Rescue Plan Act as just more “liberal pet projects,” they’ve failed big time. Polls over the last month have shown margins of 62, 73 and 76 percent of US Americans in support, including half or more Republicans.
This is for a piece of legislation that will cost $1.9 trillion, over twice as much as the stimulus package in 2009 to deal with the Great Recession. Politically, this is a very big deal.
Why has it maintained this level of support? Clearly, it’s because of the twin crises of the pandemic and the economy, but not just that. It’s also that people can see that this is truly in the best interests of the vast majority of the country on both accounts. And it helps a lot to see a unified Biden/Harris Administration successfully leading the fight against the pandemic, in a way the Trumpists failed spectacularly to do.
This morning on MSNBC one of the talking heads was talking about the passage of this legislation as, potentially, the beginning of a turn away from the last 40 years of Ronald Reagan-inspired policy to shrink-the-government (except for police and the military) and let-loose-the-capitalists. If that turns out to be true, what just happened is an even bigger deal, for sure.
What about the failure to include a $15 minimum wage? There’s no question but that this was a defeat for which 50 Republicans and eight Democratic Senators are responsible. 42 of them voted in favor of Bernie’s amendment to include it, but these eight Dems deserve to be targeted by progressives for maximum political pressure going forward.
There are some on the Left who believe the minimum wage defeat should lead to the Squad and Progressive Caucus members in the House voting against the bill when it comes up for a House vote tomorrow. This makes no sense to me. It’d be like resigning from an overall decent job your family really needs the income from because some co-workers put you down in a disrespectful way.
I liked Bernie’s role in this fight. He played a major role putting together a very progressive piece of badly needed legislation. When the $15 minimum wage had to be taken out to get the rest of the package over the finish line, he stood up and proposed an amendment to keep the issue alive and to make visible for all to see who it was on the Democratic side who needed to be held to account.
The independent progressive political forces that supported this legislation after helping to get Biden elected despite very real differences deserve more than a small bit of the credit for this legislative and political victory. Without us, it wouldn’t have happened. Let’s keep building a principled but tactically-smart, inside and outside, multi-racial people’s movement that turns this country around, maybe much more quickly than any of us thought possible just a couple of months ago.
Ted Glick is a volunteer organizer with Beyond Extreme Energy and author of Burglar for Peace: Lessons Learned in the Catholic Left’s Resistance to the Vietnam War, published last year. Past writings and other information can be found at https://tedglick.com, and he can be followed on Twitter at https://jtglick.com.