Progressives Defy House Leadership on Vote on Biden $1.5 Trillion “Highway” Bill, Hold Line on Deal for $3.5 Trillion Package w/ Social Services and Climate Change Spending

Thursday evening, progressives finally flexed their muscles and stymied Pelosi and House moderates. They refused to go along with a clear cut betrayal in the form of Senators Manchin and Sinema having agreed to support $3.5 trillion of spending over 10 years that included climate change and social spending programs. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had to postpone a vote which had been scheduled for Thursday evening. The fact that the sure-footed Pelosi very clearly signaled that she didn’t have the votes amounts to a statement that this is not her problem to solve, that someone needs to get significant movement from the Senate before she can proceed.

As most of you know, the Senate had crafted a $1.5 trillion “infrastructure” bill largely from the original Biden scheme, and insisted the House pass it with no negotiation and no commitment to the other parts of the original program. Manchin and Sienna doubled down on their sabotage. Manchin issued as statement Wednesday that amounted to “$3.5 trillion over my dead body” and also refused to roll back some of the Trump tax breaks for businesses. Oh, and he wants the Hyde Amendment passed too. From the Washington Examiner:

Progressive Caucus Chairwoman Pramila Jayapal said Manchin’s statement “has created a bunch more votes on the House floor,” against the infrastructure bill.

Even before Manchin threw down his gauntlet, many commentators normally of the “Lie back and think of England” school of legislative hardball were supporting the progressive wing nuking the vote.

One question is how many of the House refusniks, like AOC, have specifically sworn off DCCC funding? As Tom Ferguson explained long-form in 2011, House Democrats run what amounts to an explicitly crooked operation where representatives who are supposedly voted in to represent their district instead are told to spend hours a day, every day, fundraising on behalf of the party and then kicking nearly all the dough into the DCCC, which in turn gives representatives “support” in terms of access to publications and research, talking points, and most important, funding when they are up for re-election. Alan Grayson, who as a freshman representative had amassed the most progressive voting record in the House, was denied re-election funding by the DCCC.

Critically, appointment to committee chairs in the House depends solely on donations to party coffers. There is no reason to think anything has changed since this 2011 post aside from the price tags:

Let’s first look at how crassly explicit the pricing is. Ferguson cites the work of Marian Currander on how it works for the Democrats in the House of Representatives:

Under the new rules for the 2008 election cycle, the DCCC [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] asked rank-and-file members to contribute $125,000 in dues and to raise an additional $75,000 for the party. Subcommittee chairpersons must contribute $150,000 in dues and raise an additional $100,000. Members who sit on the most powerful committees … must contribute $200,000 and raise an additional $250,000. Subcommittee chairs on power committees and committee chairs of non-power committees must contribute $250,000 and raise $250,000. The five chairs of the power committees must contribute $500,000 and raise an additional $1 million. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Majority Whip James Clyburn, and Democratic Caucus Chair Rahm Emanuel must contribute $800,000 and raise $2.5 million. The four Democrats who serve as part of the extended leadership must contribute $450,000 and raise $500,000, and the nine Chief Deputy Whips must contribute $300,000 and raise $500,000. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi must contribute a staggering $800,000 and raise an additional $25 million.

Ferguson teases out the implications:

Uniquely among legislatures in the developed world, our Congressional parties now post prices for key slots on committees. You want it — you buy it, runs the challenge. They even sell on the installment plan: You want to chair an important committee? That’ll be $200,000 down and the same amount later, through fundraising…..

The whole adds up to something far more sinister than the parts. Big interest groups (think finance or oil or utilities or health care) can control the membership of the committees that write the legislation that regulates them. Outside investors and interest groups also become decisive in resolving leadership struggles within the parties in Congress. You want your man or woman in the leadership? Just send money. Lots of it….

The Congressional party leadership controls the swelling coffers of the national campaign committees, and the huge fixed investments in polling, research, and media capabilities that these committees maintain — resources the leaders use to bribe, cajole, or threaten candidates to toe the party line… Candidates rely on the national campaign committees not only for money, but for message, consultants, and polling they need to be competitive but can rarely afford on their own..

This concentration of power also allows party leaders to shift tactics to serve their own ends….They push hot-button legislative issues that have no chance of passage, just to win plaudits and money from donor blocs and special-interest supporters. When they are in the minority, they obstruct legislation, playing to the gallery and hoping to make an impression in the media…

The system …ensures that national party campaigns rest heavily on slogan-filled, fabulously expensive lowest-common-denominator appeals to collections of affluent special interests. The Congress of our New Gilded Age is far from the best Congress money can buy; it may well be the worst. It is a coin-operated stalemate machine that is now so dysfunctional that it threatens the good name of representative democracy itself.

AOC has been clear that she is not playing this game and is not spending half her time on party fundraising allows her to do more independent research on issues and spend more time on constituent servicing. I have no idea how many other members of the progressive caucus is following her model, but if they too are not part of the DCCC racket, they are an independent bloc that cannot be cowed by Pelosi. Do readers have any clue on how the rest of them stand?

In the meantime, the press is all a tizzy over this show of intransigence. The Hill called it a civil war:

…the gloves really came off.

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) in a CNN interview dismissed younger liberal lawmakers as newbies who don’t understand how Washington works.

“They haven’t been legislators, most of them, for a very long period of time, and a lot of them have been activists,” he said.

“My car is older than quite a few of the progressives,” Cohen added, criticizing the left flank for not compromising….

She laughed when asked by a reporter if a $1.5 trillion budget plan goes far enough to address the country’s problems.

“For one year?” the New York progressive asked rhetorically….

“Right now they are demanding also a vote on an infrastructure bill that they have authored demanding that the House not conference it, demanding that every House member rubber stamp it with no House amendments,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

“That essentially their bill, authored as is, go straight to the president’s desk without any amendments, they have no top line number for negotiations. I mean, we need to be serious,” she added…..

“Many people are misinformed,” said Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) in a brief interview after he addressed dozens of grassroots activists. “Or maybe they misunderstood the progressive movement.”

“The thing about the progressive movement is we’re challenging how Washington historically has worked,” he added. “We’re pushing back and saying ‘hell no.’ ”

Pelosi intends to keep negotiating Friday, but the two sides look too far apart and too dug in for there to be a route to a compromise. But the Democrats haven’t even been able to get the Senate holdouts to split the difference. From Politico:

Democrats with knowledge of the discussions said party leaders had hoped to convince Manchin and Sinema to agree to a $2.1 trillion topline target for the broader package, without success.

The press has not given any helpful clues on what the real deadline is, but Politico said that the failure to agree to terms on Thursday mean some transportation programs would lapse. While the dollars involved would presumably be reinstated, 4000 workers would be furloughed. It’s still not clear what other than silliness is this finesse, again per Politico:

Pelosi agreed to send lawmakers home shortly after 10 p.m., but party leaders will use a procedural maneuver to avoid starting a new legislative day — a nod to moderates who had insisted on a vote Thursday.

Pelosi is pushing to have a deal Friday, but merely a careful reading of the Politico story says this is wishful thinking. Manchin and Sinema were being worked over by Schumer, Sanders (!!!) and White House representatives Thursday evening. The effort was to get the two hostage-takers to agree to a total number and commit to key provisions on family prorgrams like child care and paid leave; health care; and climate change. But Manchin has dug in at his $1.5 trillion total and Sinema says she’s not open to broader spending talks if the infrastructure vote fails. Since they already rejected $2.1 trillion, any new number will be lower, and the progressives won’t swallow that:

But as those bicameral talks slid later into the night Thursday, progressives held a private call where Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) reiterated to her members that she was still demanding a Senate vote on the broader social spending plan — not just a framework.

Liberal Democrats expressed solid opposition to voting, with member after member speaking up to say they would oppose the bill, according to a person on the call.

Having been screwed once, the House progressives are correctly not going to accept a presumed bad faith handshake again. They might accept a compromise on the package, some number north of $2 trillion that includes their climate change, family support, and health care programs. But they will not accept anything less than the Senate passing that deal. And I don’t see how the two sides come to a compromise on process as well as content any time soon even with Manchin being harassed:

The Politico piece includes what a Democrat-connected source told me days ago, that the business lobby was trying to flip some House Republicans to support the Biden infrastructure deal. Good luck with that:

Roughly 10 to 15 Republicans are expected to back the vote as of Thursday evening, according to GOP sources. That wouldn’t be enough to make up for liberal defections, however, with Jayapal reiterating that at least 60 Democrats are prepared to vote against the bill.

Notice that >60 is way more than the ranks of the progressive caucus, reflecting widespread disgust with the Senate bait and switch. Sanders is counseling a delay:

“[Negotiations] can take place tomorrow, they can take place next week. We should not get hung up on a date,” Sanders said as he left a meeting with Schumer and other top Democrats, adding that he hoped the House bill “would be defeated” if it received a vote Thursday night.

I am normally of the “wake me when it’s over” school when it comes to legislative sausage-making. However, I noticed a couple of weeks ago that the negotiations over Biden’s big spending package were dragging. As I remarked to Lambert, when it takes a long time to get a deal done, it begins to acquire an aura of failure. It smells even more like that now.

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69 comments

  1. ambrit

    ‘Things’ are indeed as bad as we cynics imagined they were.
    Sinema could be calculating that her career in the Senate is over. She is acting brazenly against her constituents’ best interests.
    Manchin is just being his usual “Blue Pit Bull Democrat” self.
    The progressives have tried to play “by the rules” and been screwed for their pains. Now it is time for the beginning of the tear down and rebuilding of the Democrat Party.
    Could the “progressives” manage to engineer credible primary challenges against the worst of the obstructionists in the Democrat Party? Trump looks to be trying that strategy in the Republican Party. If the Democrat Party ‘progressives’ succeed at killing the two bills entirely, the fall out will open up opportunities for insurgencies in 2022. After all, the Democrat Party leadership will “own” this disaster.
    It is past time for the Democrat Party ‘progressives’ to stand up and say out loud; “No more Mr Nice Guy.”

    Reply
    1. vlade

      If Dem party was really a blue-collar party, as opposed to just a different brand of the same business lobby, it would have chucked out Manchin long time ago, and advise him to run for Republicans..

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Agree about Manchin being a Republican in Democrat clothing.
        It is only because of how close the party numbers in the Senate are that Sinema and Manchin have such influence. I will go further and suggest that Sinema and Manchin are Senators from a Nihilist Party. They are plainly Immoral, Un-ethical, and Narcissistic.
        It’s a shame that someone couldn’t prosecute the most egregious of the Congresspeople for Moral Turpitude.

        Reply
        1. lyman alpha blob

          95% of them are Republicans in Democrat clothing, including the current president. Just saying…

          That’s what I keep trying to tell friends who keep accusing me of turning into a Trump loving Republican when I criticize the godawful Democrat party. The tribalism runs deep though and they don’t want to hear it.

          I however have never voted Republican and am not about to start now, regardless of whether the politician throws a ‘D’ after their name on the ballot hoping I won’t notice who they really are.

          Reply
    2. Anon

      Well… never say never. But as the water cooler often states: all that was left was treachery. Once legitimacy is exhausted, the powers that be will turn to methods the progressives are incapable of fathoming, much less defending against… but I suppose in order to exhaust legitimacy, progressives must first perform it.

      Interesting, how civilization is forever held hostage by greed. A perpetual negotiation with terrorists. Feed them, so they don’t eat you.

      Reply
      1. Eric F

        “civilization is forever held hostage by greed.”

        civilization is forever in the service of greed.

        Fixed it for you

        Reply
    3. Eric377

      Odd to my ears. Look, this is not over, but it feels as if your argument is something like progressives are losing this test of strength so they ought to work for another nearly immediate test of strength.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Sort of. I am arguing that the “Progressives” have already “lost” a test of strength, due to Democrat Party leadership duplicity. Now we are seeing another attempt by the Party leadership to deceive, this time not even camouflaged as something else. The Party leadership are basically a Cabal of Bullies. Bullies continue their despicable behaviours until forced to stop. Often times, this ‘stopping’ does not need to be an outright defeat of the bullies, but just a credible resistance.
        So, even if the Party leadership prevails yet again in this instance, they will know that they have been in a fight and will have to factor that fact into their future decisions.
        “No More Mr Nice Guy” is often a bruising experience in the beginning; it is also quite liberating.

        Reply
        1. Susan the other

          I know, Ambrit. I saw your comment in the sidebar and I clicked it. Because we “progressives” will always lose every battle and then win the war. Because of the inevitable. I don’t even consider the Squad and Bernie (and some other occult progressives because “votes”) to be the minority. I consider them to be the truth. The future. And the inevitable. Because, well just Duh. Because, because, because, because, because – the wonderful wizard of Oz. Because! – in reality, the wizard is one thing, and one thing only – the True Wiz is human cooperation – not gold and not even finance – this is how everything gets so twisted we can hardly breathe. And I’m so forever disappointed by Pelosi and Schumer who are most obviously (above and beyond their vested greed) the “blind leading the blind” that I can’t even barf.

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            Yes. The sort of ‘Hope’ that even Obama cannot corrupt. Obama’s politics are purely performative, thus empty of serious content, just a record of histrionic posturings.
            H G Wells has a short story, “The Country of the Blind.” Things do not turn out as expected.
            The story itself, read: http://www.online-literature.com/wellshg/3/

            Reply
      1. lance ringquist

        there would be two more to take their place, the nafta democrats are in full charge. the rebellion should have happened in 1993 when nafta billy lied and rammed through nafta, then almost daily he passed one outrage against civil society after another.

        till today the democrat party is identical to the GOP.

        its to late to try to reform them, that ball was dropped decades ago.

        Reply
    4. Left in Wisconsin

      Public polling released yesterday shows Sinema +7 with AZ voters, better than Kelly. And this story (below) quotes an AZ Repub claiming to have seen private polling that has her +26, with a 40% favorable among Repubs. “She is super solid and will be a senator for as long as she wants.”

      Doesn’t mean she is a lock in a Dem primary but it sure goes against a lot of recent ranting about how she is not representing her constituents.

      https://news.yahoo.com/kyrsten-sinema-soars-arizona-even-210900599.html

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Hmmm…. That does bring the formally Right leaning voting bloc into play. Sinema could run as a Republican next time?
        The subject of Sinema and who exactly she is representing is central to the debate. As long as American politics is held hostage by monied interests, the pretense of this being a ‘Representative Democracy’ is under threat.

        Reply
        1. Unsympathetic

          I appreciate Chris Hedges’ formulation: The battle amongst the elite class is between oligarchy and autocracy, not D and R.

          Reply
    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Tom Ferguson’s money theory of politics offers a much better explanation. Read his Golden Rule.

      He also has far and away the best databases on actual voting, which he has been keeping for decades.

      Reply
          1. Kris Alman

            As much as I think highly of Sen. Jeff Merkley, in his leadership of the House Democrats between 2007-09, he introduced the same fundraising model for Oregon Democratic legislative candidates. More money raised to go towards the state party buys leadership of powerful committees.

            Oregon is still one of 5 states (Alabama, Nebraska, Utah, and Virginia are the others) that has absolutely no contribution limits on: Individual → Candidate Contributions; State Party → Candidate Contributions; PAC → Candidate Contributions; Corporate → Candidate Contributions; Union → Candidate Contributions
            https://www.ncsl.org/Portals/1/Documents/Elections/Contribution_Limits_to_Candidates_2020_2021.pdf

            This is despite Oregonians having passed Oregon Measure 107, the Campaign Finance Amendment, a legislatively referred constitutional amendment, on November 3, 2020. This ballot measure overturned a 1997 Oregon Supreme Court ruling in Vannatta v. Kiesling that the Oregon Constitution’s freedom of speech protections bar the legislature from limiting campaign finance activity. But it didn’t spell out those exact limits.

            Two bills that aimed to limit big money in campaigns by establishing a small donor program and limiting campaign contributions both failed this year in Oregon. They never even made it to the House floor for a vote.

            Democrats hold majorities in both chambers, 37-27 in the House and 18-12 in the Senate, so they could have passed limits on party line votes.

            It’s not rocket science to figure out why the Ds didn’t. Freedom of speech, ya’ know…

            Reply
      1. Alice X

        Thank you, I was somewhat aware of Ferguson and had a fair amount of material in his folder in my computer books folder. But I haven’t read it, only about it, and quite sometime ago. The eighteen pages that I linked to are, I seem to recall, an extract of a larger piece which I did read when it came out, but now the links are dead. I do recall it being often cited back in 2015, which brought it to mind.

        If I have Ferguson’s investment theory even basically right (per wiki, gaa), it seems to me that Walter Lippmann was making a similar point in Public Opinion, though far less developed I expect. Perhaps even from a reverse angle, as he wrote of manufacturing consent. Something that may be passé. I’m just an amateur who tries to keep up. Which may be exactly what they are pointing to as something of a lost cause.

        Whichever way says it most thoroughly, we have had a long standing illusion of a majoritarian democracy.

        Reply
      2. LowellHighlander

        Thanks for giving Professor Ferguson air time. I bought the Golden Rule ages ago, but got sidelined by so many other responsibilities. Will read it once the cold weather sets in (and I can’t do as much work on the house as I must during the warm weather).

        Over and above Professor Ferguson’s “radical” writing, I suspect that another reason why he’s apparently ignored in the mainstream (both mainstream media and academia) is that he was based at U-Mass Boston. All the “smart” people are at Harvard and MIT, right? [I’m from Massachusetts, but not from the social set that sends its kids off to prestigious, private colleges. (In fact, our parents did not send us off to college at all; if we wanted to go, we paid for it.) So, I’m personally aware of the class system at work with regard to higher ed.]

        Reply
        1. Alice X

          Actually Ferguson was at MIT until they denied him tenure for his ‘radical’ research. He then moved to U-Mass Boston. I was more aware of his work previously than I realized, this video on his book was in my folder on him, I watched it in 2009: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfTwixF_VTU – one of his tenets was the question of what to do when a pol doesn’t do what they promise. I was ready to support Obama when he said he would fight, I even gave him some money. When he flipped on the FISA amendment after the primaries but well before the election, something cynically planned in advance, I knew he was a fraud, I went to Nader. Adolph Reed knew in 1996, so I was a little late, not too late.

          Reply
      3. lordkoos

        He who has the gold, makes the rules..?

        I can’t help but wonder why Biden is so bad at arm-twisting these two senators (or if he’s even trying)? Someone like LBJ probably could have been able to get Manchin and Sinema in line and made this happen.

        Reply
  2. Rob Urie

    https://www.opensecrets.org/elections-overview/fundraising-totals

    According to opensecrets.org, amongst House Democrats, in 2020 AOC was second only to Nancy Pelosi in fundraising. Almost all of her contributions were from outside of her district. While the contributions were from individuals, they can be found organized by the corporations these individuals represent. These are the very same corporations and private interests that decide how so-called representative democracy functions.

    Were her politics really from outside of these private interests, they would not be funding her political career.

    Reply
    1. Jen

      Maybe. But you have to provide your occupation and the name of your employer when you donate. I work for a university, so my employer does not fund political campaigns directly, but I am pretty sure that if I did, they wouldn’t be supporting the same candidates that I do.

      Reply
    2. diptherio

      While I’m all for skepticism of electeds, this statement is not correct: “they can be found organized by the corporations these individuals represent.” Surely you are aware that an employee of a company does not necessarily (or even usually) represent that company. If I have a job at Apple, and make a donation $250 to AOC specifically because I think she’ll work against the interests of the execs at my company, that contribution shows up on Open Secrets as under the Apple total. Ditto if my wife works for Apple and I donate to AOC because I hate her bosses.

      The organizations themselves did not donate, rather the money came from the organizations’ PACs, their individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals’ immediate families. Organization totals include subsidiaries and affiliates.

      Misrepresenting what the numbers you cite actually show doesn’t help your case. Just sayin’.

      Reply
  3. Steve H.

    Uh, never let a crisis go to waste?

    This looks like a government shutdown with pointing fingers vectored at the Left wing. The shutdown further destabilizes, enriching the billionaires, gleichschaltunging with Hochul’s jihad. The Right gets a defacto budget savings every day the shutdown continues.

    imo Coronavirus messed up the hippie-punching when the Democratic Convention got cancelled and thousands of po’d Berners weren’t available to forcibly express themselves. Looks like things are back on track.

    Meanwhile China watches the Jenga tower sway back and forth, swatting the kids away from poking it too soon.

    Reply
  4. JR

    Though not a new thought, it is more than time for the DINOs (democrats in name only) to face serious competition, across the board, for their seats.

    Reply
  5. Eric377

    Fifty-thousand foot look at this. In an election that Biden got the most votes ever – by a lot – for President, the House Democrats lost enough margin to be held hostage internally and they did not win a majority in the Senate. Some things have gone wrong this summer, but I would highlight inflation as the biggest turd in the punch bowl. If need be, just work on inflation, maybe a more orderly border. Instill more confidence in more people and circle back in early 2022. Maybe they can make it work this fall, but don’t treat it as a huge disaster if deferring for a bit is what happens.

    Reply
    1. tegnost

      Which inflation? The inflation that is the bread and butter of the asset class? Or the inflation that makes mcdonalds pay 25/hr for workers? And a more orderly border? Maybe like a line where people wait their turn and be quiet in the mean time? Instill more confidence how? My own guess is that it’s the same ol same ol…the power brokers get what they want or they crash the whole thing and try to blame the bernie supporters. It’s a dare that needs to be called as those who benefit from the .gov are not the people.

      Reply
      1. Eric377

        My point is if the current situation doesn’t work out for passing these now, what actions will make it more likely to pass later? I think inflation is a really big anxiety for millions and you have Joe Manchin explicitly saying inflation is a problem. Texas has two Republican Senators, but the other three states along the southern border have Democrats. Arizona is the most conservative of those states. Want to bet Sinema gets an avalanche of grief about the situation at the border?

        Reply
        1. lordkoos

          I think Sinema is getting a whole lot more grief over her intransigent position on this bill than she is about the border issues.

          Reply
        2. Left in Wisconsin

          You seem to be suggesting public pressure has the power to somehow change the minds of Manchin and Sinema. That is a false premise. (See Ferguson and Gilens & Page above.)

          Reply
  6. Henry Moon Pie

    Surely progressives have prepared a chart with the per capita benefits for each of the programs in Bernie’s bill demonstrating that poor, old West Virginia is among the top beneficiaries across the board.

    As for Sinema, great pick DSCC and before them, DCCC.

    Reply
  7. ChrisFromGeorgia

    Without blaming either side, this whole thing strikes me as laughable.

    Why do we need to spend 3.5 trillion to do something about climate change? Here is a crazy idea – how about we burn less fossil fuel?

    Such a thing could be accomplished by raising the gas tax or implementing a real carbon tax, not some cap-n-bezzle scheme that inspires another decade of seasons of “American Greed” while doing nothing to lower CO2 emissions.

    In fact by raising taxes we’d pay down the deficit not add to it. I realize this view may not be popular here. But spending moar money to fight CO2 emissions always struck me as magic thinking. The DC grift machine ensures that most of the money will be siphoned away by middlemen, and they’ll just buy moar yachts and take moar carbon emitting flights …Greta had it right the other day, blah, blah, blah.

    And BTW the Medicare hospital fund runs low in 2026 which is during the current term of one third of the Senate.

    How about raising FICA taxes to address that issue first, before expanding benefits to 60 year olds.

    As you point out the truth is DC is just too rotten with big money corruption to think that they’d ever actually try to solve a problem. Instead they focus on theatrics like will Nancy pull off one last legislative miracle and cap off a glorious 40 year career serving the elites?

    Reply
    1. tegnost

      FICA taxes are regressive, and running the system doesn’t require more money from poor people, the main funders of SS, whose life spans are lower generally than the age where you get some of the money you paid back. Rich people who don’t help with funding? They’re on SS til they’re 90 and their assets are in a trust so they can’t be clawed back. Medicare hospital fund? If there were a will there would be money.

      Reply
      1. ChrisFromGeorgia

        If FICA taxes are too regressive, find some other source, tax the rich, etc.

        The point is, there is a way to pay for this stuff, it just involves some trade-offs.

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Federal government spending is not paid for by taxes. The US is a fiat currency issuer. Operationally, the Treasury debits its account at the Fed. The reason for taxing or issuing bonds is a holdover from the days the US was on the gold standard. That ended in 1971.

          The purpose of Federal taxes is to reduce overall demand (prevent inflation), redistribute income, and create incentives/disincentives.

          Reply
          1. lance ringquist

            i could be wrong, but i think S.S. is hamstrung by a law stating that it cannot add to the budget deficit, it must be self funded.

            american law is full of time bombs like this, to hobble or neuter the preamble and article one, section eight of the constitution.

            the debt ceiling and the federal reserve are other ones, of course there are many more.

            Reply
    2. Objective Ace

      I agree with your sentiment, but as long as workers are struggling to make ends meet, any increase in the price of what they consume–like gas–is going to be extremely unpopular. We need the social investments in welfare to make combatting climate change more palatable. Poor people dont have the luxury to worry about anything except their basic needs

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        which is exactly why we should tax the hell out of the freeloading parasite class(the super rich, megacorpse, etc)
        again, my perusal of this current conflict has been necessarily fly-by, but i’ve tried to be comprehensive(evidenced by having 4 windows, with 30 tabs in each, open on various publications and twitfeeds, so i just refresh all and speedread my way through)
        just like not very many politicians are mentioning the pentagram, or the wall street bailouts(GFC), or the fossil subsidies(still?), or the covid relief(sic) given to the wealthiest last year…few are mentioning how little these tapeworms pay in taxes.
        some are…even pols…but the “Mainstream” just glosses over those details.
        but including that context is essential.
        I am somewhat heartened that even creatures like jamie bouie(sp-2) and TPM seem to have finally(if temporarily) seen the light…
        the crimes are so huge…especially that they’re all seemingly perfectly legal.
        and, like the current supply chain problems(Stoller in the Guardian!)…this didn’t happen because the Great God Moloch decreed it to be so…or because of some accident of history…it was intentional…and in spite of numerous non-elites yelling that it was a terrible idea.

        teacher told my wife earlier this week that the ammo shortage is because Soros bought all the ammo plants and shut them down(!)…and this is an otherwise rational and caring woman.
        i replied…after a long extemporaneous discourse on panic buying+just in time+offshoring production+etc…that, as a “conservative”, did it never occur to her that maybe she should forgo the twice weekly target shooting, getting ready for the UN Troops, and “conserve” some of that ammo?
        lol.
        you know, so she has something to shoot when the Blue Helmets finally arrive to turn us all gay?
        (and folks wonder why i prefer to just stay on the farm…)

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          Tell your female public servant about the ammo plants being way behind on their NATO class ammo contracts.
          If she has the time and resources, hand loading is the way to go for handgun ammo. You have to already have some clandestine “micro ammunition production facilities” out there in the wide open spaces. Ask your local friendly FedEx or UPS delivery driver who is getting the occasional delivery of the packages with the “Danger Explosives” stickers all over them.

          Reply
      2. T_Reg

        Concern about rising prices related to a carbon tax can be addressed by distributing the entire proceeds in equal portions to the population. That way, those who consume more than the average amount of carbon will lose out, while those who use less than the average will come out ahead. Escalade drivers won’t like it, but e-bike users will love it. (And that’s just in the transportation sector).

        Reply
    3. Pat

      Fighting and/or adapting for climate change could be considered an issue of defense, so how about taking the trillion(s) a tear spent on the Middle East in undeclared wars and using that. We have already determined that deficit spending is not important so no win no foul.

      As for Medicare, I want an immediate tax surcharge on Big Pharma and insurance companies as in 5% of the profits as reported in their financial reports. Taken off the top, not subject to deductions or business expenses. If I could figure out how to add private equity hospitals and medical practices, they would be there as well. It is only fair.

      Reply
  8. JohnnyGL

    Nice write up. Maybe it’s me, or the hip replacements, but we don’t see as many of these older style write ups breaking down the state of play on some complex issue that’s in the middle of unfolding.

    I enjoyed this. Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I did this only with financial events, never political. I normally don’t see fights over bills as worth following here. They are well-covered by the press and I don’t have any particular insight.

      I didn’t see Evergrande as worth covering because it looked to be an S&L style crisis, that would mainly result in an economic downturn, which would hurt the economy over time, but not one that would blow up the financial system. That looked to be correct.

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  9. Ben Dalton

    60 votes? I doubt it. Pelosi will probably pass it with GOP support (who would love to stick it to the progressives).

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    1. ptb

      Yep. Don’t have to be that much of a cynic to figure this one out. Pelosi is negotiating with House GOP as much as House Dems. She’ll probably get some of each, as long as she gives GOP Reps concessions — which will please the biggest D party sponsors just fine, as they are universally opposed to tax hikes that are believed at that level to be the inevitable side effect of social spending.

      On the Senate side, Schumer sits down with Manchin and Sinema, and will eventually fashion a “compromise”, consisting of some vestige of the medicare expansion, but mostly gutted of its original intent. Funnel yet more $$ paying full sticker price price to drug monopolies. Everybody gets to declare victory.

      Reply
      1. Left in Wisconsin

        I agree that is the strategy but I think Jayapal is aware – hence the reports of 60+ ProgDems committed to voting no. We’ll see if she can keep them solid. I’m not optimistic.

        Reply
    2. Yves Smith Post author

      “Never get in the way when your enemy is making a mistake.”

      Why should the Republicans help? Having Biden’s presidency over even before its first year is up is an outcome they would regard as highly desirable. I am surprised that they are as many as 10-15 defections. Had you read Politico, you would have seen the Rs are whipping hard to have their members hold the line.

      Reply
      1. ptb

        Why R defections?

        I’d think (1) Because the R members can get something from Pelosi, or from sponsors more interested in sabotaging the social/enviro program than about which party scores PR points.

        (2) Because the infrastructure bill is expected to eventually pass anyway, with progressives opposed only to the timing, for the tactical reasons discussed.

        (3) From the point of view of some R members facing a close race, infrastructure can be pretty popular too.

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Rs can’t get anything from Pelosi. Did you miss that there is a Democratic president? She can only move existing pieces on the board, and then not much.

          Why assume this or any bill passes? As I indicated, with this degree of lack of overlap of bargaining positions, the whole thing could fall into a heap and Biden has to start over with a new bill. There are plenty of times when deals don’t get done. Look at trade deals, the Greece bailout negotiations, and Theresa May’s Brexit pact attempts.

          People only want to see local spending. As we learned from Obama, there are no “shovel ready” projects. Any actual spending is unlikely to happen before the midterms.

          Reply
          1. ptb

            What could Pelosi have offered House R’s? I dunno. Same thing Schumer gave a third of Senate Republicans? The infrastructure bill we’re talking about got 69 votes in the Senate. I’m taking that as a sign of opposition being pretty mild.

            Reply
            1. Yves Smith Post author

              Wow, you really don’t get it, do you? The Senate bill was not a gimmie, it was a R victory, cutting Biden’s program down by more than half. Now the Rs are getting a break in the House they had no reason to expect, that the Dem majority would be split by a revolt. As the post made clear, the left has always swallowed it and gone along with the Dem leadership. There was no reason for the Rs to expect that them getting the original bill gutted might produce a second victory, the entire program failing and forcing Biden into a humiliating reboot. The political press would report that the Biden Administration was over, he was unable to govern.

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  10. Randy G

    Thank you for the detailed analysis, Yves.

    Shocked that some of the “Progressives” are offering resistance to Pelosi and Schumer. Maybe they’ve had their noses rubbed in the cat litter box one too many times.

    I expect that they’ll just buy another jug of perfume and a “compromise” (AKA capitulation) will be negotiated.

    Hope to see my cynicism refuted but it rarely is.

    Reply
  11. Big River Bandido

    I don’t share what I perceive to be the general pessimism of my fellow NC commentariat. I’d be happy if they hold the line and eventually get the 3.5 trillion. But I would equally welcome the deal falling through and watching the “left” tank the infrastructure bill corporate giveaway and burn down the institutional party. Considering how corrupt and watered-down the 3.5 trillion “deal” is already, I can’t put too much stock in whether it passes or not. An outcome where the whole package goes down in flames would give the “left” a salient issue, and a high-profile scalp — both of which could be *much* more politically valueable than the actual passage of the bill.

    If there are really 60 “no” votes in the House, that has to include members well outside the general “progressive” brand. It suggests that the dynamics of this fiasco are making some centrist right-wing Democrats nervous.

    That’s too good an opening to leave unexploited. George W. Bush cut legislative deals with right-wing Democrats all the time…and as soon as they gave in, he targeted them for defeat at the next elections, figuring (correctly, it turned out) that their willingness to deal was a sign of insecurity. This tactic was extremely effective.

    Reply

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