Friday, December 17, 2021

How the Democrats Could Actually Get Something Done


Not that I particularly want Congress to get anything done, mind you. I'm just interested in the nuts and bolts.

The "Build Back Better Plan" -- Biden's Big Basket of Boondoggles -- hath crashed and burned until at least next year. Good. While it's hard to find a good comprehensive breakdown of what's in there, I've seen enough bad stuff highlighted, even setting aside the insane amount of total spending, to not like it at all.

But there are probably a few good -- or at least popular -- things in there.

By "popular" I mean  popular enough to get ten Republican votes in the Senate to at least bring them to the floor for a full vote (at which point the Democrats have the 51 votes to pass them).

Maybe the Democrats should stop trying to cram the kitchen sink into this "omnibus" bill and put those popular items in single-issue bills, then fast-track them.

The whole "omnibus" thing is contrived to create pressure -- Congresswoman X doesn't get what she wants unless she votes for a bill that also has why Congressman Y wants, and vice versa. So everyone throws their priorities into a bill (which they usually dub a "must-pass" bill, even though there is no bill that "must" be passed, or else voting on bills wouldn't be a thing).

Thing is, the pressure runs in both directions. Maybe Congresswoman X is so opposed to what Congressman Y wants that she's willing to give up what she wants rather than vote for it.

I don't support the "child tax credit," but I bet ten Republican Senators could be found to vote for (or at least for cloture on, anyway)  a bill containing some version of it, as long as that bill didn't also include half a billion bucks for Planned Parenthood and a mandate that all lawnmowers be battery powered by 2023.

At the moment, the Democrats have to plausible plays for votes in the mid-term:

  1. Look at how much we got done! Wow! We really knocked it out of the park! Keep us in control and give us even more power!
  2. We couldn't get anything done because of those mean ol' obstructionist Republicans! Give us more seats so we can sweep them out of the way!
Breaking some popular stuff into single-issue bills (which is the way everything should be done anyway) would let them combine the two into a more palatable talking point -- "hey, we got some stuff done despite significant obstacles -- and we could do more if we kept the House and had 60 votes in the Senate."

Update: Instead of doing one of my regular mass-submission Garrison Center columns today, I expanded the thoughts above into an exclusive submission to The Hill. Wish me luck.


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