Progressives’ True Test Arrives as Biden Signals Major Infrastructure Compromise

On Tuesday, The New York Times reported that President Biden, in meetings with House Democrats, has significantly lowered his goals on additional infrastructure spending. Until now, he has thrown in with progressives who insisted on passing a $3.5 trillion package in addition to the $1 trillion bipartisan bill.

Biden’s new ceiling is apparently $2.3 trillion, a drastic reduction from an already compromised number (as Bernie Sanders has repeatedly stated, progressives initially wanted a $6 trillion deal).

Up to this point, House progressives have wisely touted their support from the president, and attached themselves to Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda. Perhaps it was their legitimate claim to Biden’s allyship that emboldened them to hold firm at their $3.5 trillion price tag, as they have maintained their position over the past several weeks despite pressure from moderates in the party and their corporate backers.

Now that Biden has essentially caved (editor’s note: surprise, surprise), progressives’ true test has arrived. They now must have the courage to remain steadfast in their demands without the cover that comes with attaching themselves to the leader of their party, the President of the United States.

Now that Biden has signaled that the high end of the settlement will be more like $2.3 trillion, the same progressives who banded together to block the $1 trillion package last week will have to publicly defy party leadership – including the president – if they want to drive that amount higher.

Whether they have it in them to do that remains to be seen. In the American Rescue Plan negotiations, House progressives didn’t put up a fight to keep Bernie Sanders’ minimum wage provision in the bill after eight Senate Democrats teamed up with Republicans to defeat it. So if past is prologue, there’s little reason for optimism.

If there is cause for hope, it’s that they have publicly dug in already on this infrastructure fight, and that caving now would be seen as yet another humiliating defeat for the Left. Pramila Jayapal instantly rejected at Joe Manchin’s ludicrous $1.5 trillion offer, saying plainly, “That’s not going to happen.” Whether she and her caucus can maintain that same level of confidence without clear support from party leadership is now the big question regarding the fate of the infrastructure bill.

Lauren Steiner, activist and host of The Robust Opposition, joined us on our podcast for a deep dive on the state of these negotiations. Click the player below to hear our full conversation, and subscribe to the Due Dissidence podcast on Apple, StitcherSpotifyCastbox, Google Podcasts, or any major podcast player.

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As Trump Implodes, Democrats Roll Out the Red Carpet for Bush Era Republicans

In the pre-Covid world, Trump was consistently favored across numerous betting markets and forecasting models to win reelection, and the Republicans maintaining control of the Senate was a virtual lock. Alas, however, times have changed. As the coronavirus rages out of control throughout the country, Donald Trump’s poll numbers continue to plummet, and his chances of victory dwindle by the day. Suddenly, it seems the Republican Party is in danger of losing not only the Presidency, but their Senate majority as well, a prospect thought to be unthinkable just a few months ago.

While most Republicans seem willing to go down with the Trump ship, we are also seeing a number of Bush-era neoconservative politicos aggressively attacking the Trump administration in the run-up to November. The most prominent of these groups is The Lincoln Project, a PAC started by Bush and McCain campaign alumni which has run a number of hard-hitting ads against Donald Trump, and is committed to ousting him from office this Fall.

Democrats, desperate to remove Trump, are welcoming this effort with open arms. Liberals’ hearts have always been warmed by the idea of Republicans putting “country before party” and supporting Democratic candidates. MSNBC’s coverage is rife with “Never Trump” conservatives like Joe Scarborough, Nicolle Wallace, and Steve Schmidt (himself a Lincoln Project member) who, on a daily basis, can be seen imploring their party’s representatives to break from Trump in the name of decency, mercy, patriotism, etc.

But is The Lincoln Project actually committed to creating the kind of America that liberals, never mind progressives, ostensibly want to live in? Of course not. These are establishment Republicans looking to curry favor with the Democratic Party leadership, and, just as important, the Democratic electorate, in order to maximize their leverage over a potential Biden administration. By helping the Democrats achieve their paramount short-term goal of defeating Trump, these neocon Republicans are buying themselves influence within the party they’ve spent their lives demonizing, in order to pull it even further to the right.

And so for all this talk of Bernie-Biden “task forces,” and “concessions” to the more progressive wing of the party, there is an ongoing effort to counteract these developments being waged by lifelong Republican operatives, who now see the Democratic Party as a more viable vehicle for their agenda than the ill-fated Trumpian GOP.

What does all of this mean for progressives’ place in the Democratic coalition? Why is Trump failing so miserably? How did the “Never Trumpers” infiltrate the Democratic Party, and why are mainstream liberals rolling out the red carpet for them? We discuss all of this and more on our latest podcast episode.

Have a listen to our full conversation by clicking the player below:

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Photo: Zach Gibson/AFP/Getty Images