Democrats See Concessions are the Key to an Infrastructure Plan

by Wall Street Rebel | Michael London | 10/21/2021 11:14 AM
Democrats See Concessions are the Key to an Infrastructure Plan

President Biden met with members of Congress from both the progressive and moderate wings of the Democratic Party to discuss the passage of a social spending package. Biden expresses optimism.

 

After months of tension and stalemate over President Biden's expansive domestic policy agenda, Democrats are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

In the long-running impasse, Democrats and Republicans have battled it out over a massive social benefits package at the heart of President Joe Biden's ambitious economic plans. The House has pitted Democrats against Republicans, Congress against the White House, and liberals against centrists.

Even so, following a series of pivotal meetings between the president and Democrats from across the political spectrum on Tuesday, even the most staunchly anti-Biden legislators are singing a new song of optimism, praising Biden's new assertiveness in the debate and vowing to scale back their own demands in the interest of securing a major legislative victory in Congress.

Democratic Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), a liberal who met with President Joe Biden this week, said, "The president is being very clear about the direction we're going in, where he wants us to go, and it's that kind of leadership that's going to get us to the finish line." Biden and Dingell met this week in Washington.

"We will have the outlines by the end of the week," Dingell said if the discussions continue at their current pace.

As recently as a few days ago, the notion of such a short timeline was virtually unheard of, as party leaders struggled to bridge the gap between liberals pushing for a massive expansion of federal benefits and moderates wary of government overreach, as well as a pair of Senate centrists — Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) whose vague demands left many in the party scratching their heads.

During his talks with Manchin and Sinema on Tuesday and with larger groups of liberals and centrists, Biden signaled a strategy change from President Barack Obama, who had pushed detailed policy proposals, replete with a range of spending amounts for each bucket of reforms.

Some of the more popular programs included in the original $3.5 trillion "family" benefits package — a figure championed by Vice President Joe Biden and House Democrats — were targeted for reductions, including the child tax credit, paid medical leave, and several environmental initiatives.

Nonetheless, the consequences were almost instantaneous.

Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) returned to the Capitol and announced that he would begin negotiations with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) to break the impasse, with the hope of reaching a framework agreement by the end of the week.

Following that, Democrats from across the political spectrum applauded Biden's active participation in the process, indicating a renewed desire for compromise among members of all political persuasions.

House moderate Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA), who met with Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday, claimed that Biden had progressed to the point where he was able to declare, "Here's the plan that you can get 50 votes in the Senate on and 219 votes in the House."

In talking with several of my progressive colleagues who had previously met with him, I believe we've reached a point where we're quite near reaching an agreement.

One of those progressives is Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), a close Sanders supporter who is a member of Congress.

Although he has advocated for a massive increase of social benefits and climate initiatives, he also acknowledges the reality of what is feasible in light of the Democrats' razor-thin majorities in both houses of Congress.

In light of this, he is willing to accept a plan of financing such programs over a shorter period to get the package on President Biden's desk.

"It's not ideal, but politics is the art of finding a middle ground," he said.

"It's not how I would go about finding things, but it's better than having nothing at all," says the author.

In addition, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, is sounding an upbeat note, stating that the discussion is "going in the right way."

Representative Hakeem Jeffries (NY), leader of the House Democratic Caucus, indicated that both parties are willing to make concessions on initial demands to accomplish what might be a career-defining win for President Joe Biden....

After months of tension and stalemate over President Biden's expansive domestic policy agenda, Democrats are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

In the long-running impasse, Democrats and Republicans have battled it out over a massive social benefits package at the heart of Vice President Joe Biden's ambitious economic plans. The House has pitted Democrats against Republicans, Congress against the White House, and liberals against centrists.

Even so, following a series of pivotal meetings between the president and Democrats from across the political spectrum on Tuesday, even the most staunchly anti-Biden legislators are singing a new song of optimism, praising Biden's new assertiveness in the debate and vowing to scale back their own demands in the interest of securing a major legislative victory in Congress.

Democratic Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), a liberal who met with President Joe Biden this week, said, "The president is being very clear about the direction we're going in, where he wants us to go, and it's that kind of leadership that's going to get us to the finish line." Biden and Dingell met this week in Washington.

"We will have the outlines by the end of the week," Dingell said if the discussions continue at their current pace.

As recently as a few days ago, the notion of such a short timeline was virtually unheard of, as party leaders struggled to bridge the gap between liberals pushing for a massive expansion of federal benefits and moderates wary of government overreach, as well as a pair of Senate centrists — Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) whose vague demands left many in the party scratching their heads.

During his talks with Manchin and Sinema on Tuesday and with larger groups of liberals and centrists, Biden signaled a strategy change from President Barack Obama, who had pushed detailed policy proposals, replete with a range of spending amounts for each bucket of reforms.

Some of the more popular programs included in the original $3.5 trillion "family" benefits package — a figure championed by Vice President Joe Biden and House Democrats — were targeted for reductions, including the child tax credit, paid medical leave, and a number of environmental initiatives.

Nonetheless, the consequences were almost instantaneous. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) returned to the Capitol and announced that he would begin negotiations with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) to break the impasse, with the hope of reaching a framework agreement by the end of the week.

Following that, Democrats from across the political spectrum applauded Biden's active participation in the process, indicating a renewed desire for compromise among members of all political persuasions.

House moderate Rep. Ami Bera, who met with Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday, claimed that Biden had progressed to the point where he was able to declare, "Here's the plan that you can get 50 votes in the Senate on and 219 votes in the House."

In talking with several of my progressive colleagues who had previously met with him, I believe we've reached a point where we're quite near reaching an agreement.

One of those progressives is Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), a close Sanders supporter who is a member of Congress.  Although he has advocated for a massive increase of social benefits and climate initiatives, he also acknowledges the reality of what is feasible in light of the Democrats' razor-thin majorities in both houses of Congress.

In light of this, he is willing to accept a plan of financing such programs over a shorter period to get the package on Vice President Biden's desk.

"It's not ideal, but politics is the art of finding a middle ground," he said.

"It's not how I would go about finding things, but it's better than having nothing at all," says the author.

In addition, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, is sounding an upbeat note, stating that the discussion is "going in the right way."

Representative Hakeem Jeffries (NY), leader of the House Democratic caucus, indicated that both parties are willing to make concessions on initial demands to accomplish what might be a career-defining win for Vice President Joe Biden....

According to him, "there are no red lines."

Both sides of the debate are offering concessions.

Deputy Vice President Joe Biden has reduced the amount of his spending proposal from $3.5 trillion to something in the neighborhood of $2 trillion.

Manchin has said that he is open to increasing his original $1.5 trillion as long as other measures adequately offset the increase.

Liberals are willing to accept a much lower top-line number, provided many of the programs are maintained in their entirety.

And moderates seem to be willing to accept whatever outcome comes out of the Manchin-Sanders discussions.

According to Bera, "I'd want to see us attempt to do a little bit more on the climate front."

"However, if Sen. Manchin cannot be persuaded to change his mind, let us do what we can."

To be sure, there are still a number of obstacles to overcome before all parties can come to terms with supporting the legislation, which includes significant increases of worker benefits and safety net programs, as well as new measures to combat climate change.

A plan to save expenses by shortening the duration of the child tax credit from four to one year was met with opposition on Wednesday by several Democratic members of Congress.

A similar plan, which would reduce paid family leave from 12 weeks to four, has been met with opposition by others, including Jayapal.

Furthermore, several Democrats in high-income states continue to press Biden to address the existing limit on the federal deduction for state and local taxes, known as the SALT deduction.

"There is considerable agreement among the overwhelming majority of members of the New York and New Jersey delegation that some relief in terms of SALT should be included in this measure," Jeffries said.

The emerging consensus among Democrats seems to be that they must compromise to accomplish their goals, given the stakes for Biden's program and the current legislative session is their final best opportunity to enact policy changes that have been sought, in some instances, for decades.

Senator Joe Biden has ratcheted up the pressure, calling on legislators to reach an agreement before traveling to Glasgow, Scotland, for an international climate summit that starts on October 31.

'He was really focused on delivering something before he went to Glasgow... and he presented a very convincing argument,' Khanna said in an interview with CNN.

"He said... that the repute of the United States is on the line," he continued, adding

"It seemed to me that we needed to compromise to give this president victory."

                      Democrats and President Biden are optimistic about the spending bill negotiations

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