Life support

The art of persuasion is on life support in Washington

If there’s anything we’ve learned over the past week, it’s that the already struggling art of persuasion is now on life support. It’s especially dangerous in Colorado, where intensive care beds are suddenly hard to find.

I shouldn’t have to do too much persuasion to make this case. I mean, it’s all there in front of us, even though Jared Polis, for his part, seems to have a hard time seeing it. Just like Joe Manchin.

We’ll start in Washington, where the current state of dysfunction runs so deep that longtime self-proclaimed Senate negotiator Joe Biden hasn’t convinced exactly any Republican and is struggling to keep his own party together – he needs the 50 Democrats. , using reconciliation – to have its social safety net program adopted. I didn’t watch Biden Town Hall on CNN Thursday night – there was baseball, people – but does anyone think he moved the needle?

Mike Littwin

If the backstop bill passes – and it likely will, eventually, albeit with a price tag at about half of what Biden wants – it looks like it will pass with the extended tax on children’s credit, the very popular law that Michael Bennett strongly supports and rounds up every moment, having been gutted.

In Colorado, Polis is once again begging people to get vaccinated as COVID-related hospitalizations soar to near emergency levels even as cases decline across much of the country. Of course, Colorado got pretty much a free pass when the Delta variant took the South and Midwest by storm.

Polis begs the unvaccinated people to get vaccinated. “Never in my wildest imagination did I think there would be Coloradians who wouldn’t want to protect themselves,” Polis said, thinking back to the early days of the vaccine. He also begs the vaccinees for reminders and everyone to wear masks as needed.

Meanwhile, Douglas County schools are suing the new county health department for ending the masking requirement in schools. It’s a problem Polis could fix with a quick signature on a small piece of paper – forcing masks statewide for schoolchildren – but refuses to do so.

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And why are there no restrictions on bringing together thousands of unvaccinated people at indoor sporting events? With just one signature, the reluctant Polis to mandate could solve this problem as well.

And back to Washington, where I’m still fairly certain that a backstop bill with nearly $ 2 trillion in spending will eventually pass, the Electoral Reform Bill. – intended to counter voter suppression laws passed in the Red States – came to a vote in the Senate. Fifty Democrats voted in favor. Fifty Republicans voted against. With the obstruction of the Republicans, requiring 60 votes to pass anything, equality goes to suppressing GOP voters.

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What is most disheartening about it is that the Democrats allowed Joe Manchin, the biggest defender of obstructionism, who insists that there is no democracy without it, to draft a compromise bill that he says might appeal to Republicans. This is not the case. Not one. And now Biden, who has also defended the filibuster, appears ready to back a exclusion of systematic obstruction for voting rights and maybe other rights as well. It was his attempt to keep the progressives in the House. But will Manchin follow? To date, there is no indication that it will.

For the safety net bill to pass – at something like $ 1.75 trillion over 10 years – requires Manchin’s vote. Manchin insisted on the lower number. He turned to green energy and renewable energies. Manchin told Bernie Sanders – who is trying, in a very different way from Bernie, to find a compromise – that he could live without any of the Democrats’ agendas being passed.

With Bennet, Sherrod Brown and Cory Booker leading the Senate, Biden secured a one-year extended child tax credit – which would lift 45% of underprivileged children out of poverty – as part of his stimulus bill. . And it looked like it would become permanent in the safety net bill. That is, until Manchin gets his hands on it.

From now on, the child tax credit would be means-tested – costing, according to Bennet, up to 37 million children to lose. And at a time, Bennet notes, when “Colorado families are killing themselves to afford a combination of health care, early childhood education, child care, and higher education.” Bennet tries to get Manchin to agree to extend the credit for as many years as possible.

Bennet had said there was no reason – “There is no new information” – to prevent a bill from being passed this week. So much for that. And you’ll remember the cost of the long process it took to adopt Obamacare, and how its popularity dwindled every week, as Nebraska Senator Max Baucus insisted he could get Republican votes for it. bill by abandoning the public option. Are we seeing a repeat of performances here as Democrats desperately try to retain the weaker majorities in the Senate and House midway through next year? Bennet, it can be noted, is one of the senators running for re-election.

It’s not just Manchin. There is another Democratic senator, Kyrsten Sinema, who has sworn to protect Donald Trump’s recent tax giveaway to the rich. With a few not-so-dramatic changes, raising taxes for the rich would pay about the full bill. Raising taxes on the rich is even more popular than expanding the child credit tax, and now Democrats are desperately looking for alternatives. And Sinema, of course, also opposes a filibuster exclusion.

So, there’s a Democrat in Manchin who looks back at LBJ’s Great Society and thinks a good enough society is right for him. And there’s a Democrat in Sinema who goes back to FDR’s New Deal and says the deal America has now with the 1 percent and 5 percent doesn’t need to be reformed.

Are you still convinced that persuasion is not good enough? If so, I’m afraid that’s the easy part. Because now all it takes is for someone to find something that will work.


Mike Littwin has been a columnist for too many years to be counted. He’s covered Dr. J, four presidential nominations, six national conventions, and countless mind-numbing speeches in the snow of New Hampshire and Iowa.


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