Dems reopen moderate vs. progressive division in budget bill

The prospect of the largest expansion of government support in nearly a century since the New Deal is what fuels one side. The other side is worried about Washington's ability to expand its reach at great cost.

Dems reopen moderate vs. progressive division in budget bill

They are all Democrats. Each side has a different approach to the $3.5 trillion spending bill.

The party faces new challenges as it tries to reconcile its moderate and progressive wings. This week's House version bill was drafted. It opened a new phase in the debate. This could be a test of whether Democrats are able to match their bold campaign rhetoric regarding everything from climate change to income inequality.

Any mistake could have serious implications for Democrats' chances during next year’s midterms when they try to stop Republicans from retaking Congress. It could be disregarded by centrists who think it is too ambitious or rejected by those on the left who feel it's too timid in a time of great consequence.

"This is crucial for Democrats and their message in next year’s election," stated Joe Crowley, a former New York congressman who was defeated in the 2018 primary defeat by Rep. Alexandria OcasioCortez, a progressive star. "We're going blink, and we'll be in 2022."

Crowley stated that bills proposing trillions in spending were "simply" something he had never dealt with during his 20-year tenure in office. He said that these are "impossible figures by any standard".

Crowley said that regardless of the final price tag, it will be transformative.

Republicans are opposed to the bill. Democratic leaders face a narrow path when they try to navigate a divided Senate and a thin House majority.

Many Democrats are in agreement with the goals of the legislation. These include universal pre-kindergarten and tuition free community college, as well as increasing federal funding for child and family care and combating climate change. The party is also aiming to expand Medicare coverage and provide pathways to citizenship for millions illegal immigrants.

There are many differences in the cost of such a measure and how it should pay for.

Democratic Senators The $3.5 trillion cost of Joe Manchin, West Virginia, and Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona, were discussed privately by President Joe Biden on Wednesday.

To help pay the cost, House Democrats have suggested a 26.5% top corporate rate. This is less than Biden's 28% target. Manchin, however, has advocated for a 25% corporate rate.

There are also differences over how to impose levies upon top earners. Biden advocated for a return to 39.6% top tax rate on capital gains. However, House Democrats would tax such income at 25%, as it is often generated by wealthy people. Individual income exceeding $5 million would be subject to a 3% surcharge.

These differences may be technical but they are indicative of a desire by many House Democratic leaders for protection of their most vulnerable members from attacks on them for supporting profligate spending and taxes.

Will Marshall, president and CEO of the Progressive Policy Institute (a Washington think tank), stated that "it doesn't matter what you do as long as it is big." Marshall stated that Democrats are so ideologically diverse that "people running in competitive races simply cannot embrace the same ideas as people who run for safe, blue Democratic districts."

Joseph Geevarghese (executive director of Our Revolution), countered, saying that it would be extremely problematic for the president of the progressive activist group to declare, "Look, we won both chambers. We won the White House. "We couldn't provide better health care and we couldn't make a difference on the climate.

Geevarghese stated, "It isn't going to be explicable to the American people," and "I think there will be consequences as a consequence."

Democrats have been there before. In the initial stages of the 2020 party's presidential primary, the progressive and moderate divisions dominated. Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders were the most prominent representatives from each side of the spectrum.

Sanders, an independent, caucuses alongside the Democrats. However, the party eventually coalesced around Biden partly because it was urgent to unite behind a candidate who could appeal to the largest number of people and defeat Donald Trump.

Biden has maintained party unity by pursuing many progressive priorities. He spearheaded a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief law that was passed in March. He also reduced student loan debt for millions of Americans, and he supported a still-stalled proposal to increase the national minimum wage from $15 an hour to $15. However, he has not supported some of the most progressive goals, such as Medicare for All, the universal health care plan known as Medicare for All.

It's not clear if that equilibrium can be maintained.

Already, Our Revolution and other progressive activists staged protests in front of Manchin's offices and other moderates. They have begun to proudly refer to themselves as "the tea party of the left", in an effort to stop the actions of "obstructionist corporate Democrats".

Manchin has not been moved. He said that he was very clear and open about the need for lowering the price of the budget bill.

The House was divided between Stephanie Murphy (Democratic Florida Rep.), head of the moderate Blue Dog Coalition and the parts of the spending bill in committee. She argued that her party's efforts to push it through was too fast.

However, progressives have responded to the challenge by playing their legislative hardball. Representative Pramila Jayapal, a Washington Democrat, is co-chairwoman the House Progressive Caucus. She stated that the group remains united behind a pledge not to support a bill that moderate Democrats are more excited about -- a $1 billion, bipartisan public work measure -- until the budget bills advance.

"Joe Manchin is the power. We need his vote. Jayapal stated that all of us need his vote, since (Democrats have) a margin of 3 votes in the House." Jayapal spoke on a conference call with progressive activists. "Everyone is a Joe Manchin."

After progressives had pushed for spending plans of as high as $6 trillion, Sanders spearheaded the proposal and is now head of the Senate Budget Committee. He believes that the current price tag is fair enough and has pledged to not accept any further cuts. Sanders insists that tax increases for the wealthy can be embraced by working-class voters of both parties.

Marshall stated that while many voters in battleground House district support higher taxes for the wealthy to ensure "tax fairness," their support wanes when additional spending is focused more on social programs and less on economic stimulus.

Marshall said that "it has to be linked to a plan that creates good jobs, spurs innovation, and growth." He also noted that many people in swing districts are concerned about federal debts rising and inflation. These fears could be addressed by strengthening the post-pandemic economic recovery.

He said that it would still be costly for Democrats to continue with the negotiations over the final price tag of the budget proposal.

Marshall stated that Democrats would find a way for them to reconcile their differences because they cannot afford to see this president fail. "The margins of victory are too small."

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