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Friday, March 12, 2021

The 2021 version of the Great Society


    The election landslide of 1964 gave the Democrats the power to enact the most progressive legislation since the New Deal of the 1930s.  Now while the majority of the Democrats is much slimmer it is truly amazing there is the potential for addressing some of the needs that have been proposed by progressives for a long time. 
    While most of the attention of the stimulus bill, the American Rescue Bill,  has been on how it addresses the needs of the pandemic the truly game-changing aspects of the bill are the elements that have been the dreams of progressives for many years.  While it doesn't go as far as Andrew Yang's $1,000 a month guaranteed income proposal the $300 a month per child payment is a step in that direction.  This tax credit will be paid out each month and will reduce the child poverty rate by 50%.   The child poverty rate in the US has fluctuated around 20% for the past 10 years depending on the general economy of the country.  This reduction will be greater than was experienced during the time of the Great Society when the overall poverty rate was reduced from 17 % to 11%.  While this tax credit is now to only last one year there are plans by the Democrats to make it permanent.  The movement to guaranteed income will have a start through this child tax credit.  Expect Republicans to raise their cries of socialism when the time comes to make this permanent but it is always harder to take something away that people are used to.  Just think about how unsuccessful the Republicans have been to do away with Obamacare.  Speaking of Obamacare the Rescue Plan has money in it for more subsidy money to help pay for premiums"The American Rescue Plan eliminates the ACA's subsidy cliff and extends PTCs to those with incomes above 400 percent FPL for 2021 and 2022. ... Those whose income is 150 percent FPL would, regardless of age, pay no premiums, down from $800 under current law."  It is not Medicare for All but it closer to that reality.
     The other Great Society advancement of voting rights is still to come.  The John Lewis Voting Rights legislation and the For the People Act are the most progressive voting rights legislation since the 1960s. Both of these acts will have to get past the filibuster in the Senate by the Republicans who know that expanding voting will mean the death of the Republican party in many more states.  There are a couple of ways to get around the filibuster without doing away with it.  One is to change what can't be filibustered to include voting rights legislation the way the Senate does for budget reconciliation and judicial appointments.  This change would only require a simple majority vote.  The second change would be to require that senators filibustering stay in the chamber talking or give up their right to filibuster a bill.  This is called a "talking filibuster" and the rule again could be changed by a majority vote.   If the opposition to doing away with the filibuster is because of the need to give the minority a chance to make their case the talking filibuster gives the minority the right to be heard but not the right to block the majority.  Look for this battle along these lines in the near future in the Senate. 
       The lessons learned by the Democrats from the Trump years and McConnell's Senate actions have hopefully made the Democrats more willing to use their slim majority to move the most progressive legislation in 50 years while they can.  It should be "payback" time for what McConnell did with the Garland Supreme Court appointment travesty. 

      As the Republicans have given up on governing their only tactic to give their base something to support Republican legislators are cultural issues.  The outrage at Dr. Seuss and Mr. Potato Head shows how far the Republicans have to go to find an issue.  

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