The deadline for extending unemployment benefits is March 15th. Adding urgency to this deadline are the goals set by the President to have the package successfully implemented. Keep in mind the total opposition from the two Republican caucuses and the obstacles created by Democrats coming from both the right and the left of the Party. As I post this blog, Republican Senator Johnson from Wisconsin will have succeeded in requesting and, acting within the rules, demanding the clerk read the entire Covid relief bill and a marathon of amendments will be proposed and brought to a vote. This, of course, will only take valuable time away from getting the job done—which is no doubt his objective. Other delays will follow as Republicans will do everything possible to deny the American people what they want and need.
It isn’t just the $1.9 trillion package that is involved here. We need to understand how critical it is for the Biden Presidency that this be done by March 15, which is one working week away. The Republicans and press will go after him on the deadline if unmet, just as they will go after him for not accomplishing the goal of having a vaccine for every adult by the end of May or early June. Believe me, the press wants to go after Biden, because they will be eager to show that they are indeed objective fact-finders. If Democrats fail in meeting the March 15th deadline, the press—even the friendly opinion columnists—will run a story comparing Biden to Trump and highlighting his failures. The press would love to demonstrate their fairness; although, in reality, that would be a big plus for Republicans over Democrats, because it will be like comparing a first degree murder to a misdemeanor.
For the long-term success of the Biden Presidency, it is really important that these goals be met on time. They are good for the American people; they will help mid-term 2022 Democratic reelections and gains; and, obviously, they will enhance Biden’s ability to get reelected in 2024. If Biden loses in 2024, the Republicans will come in and reverse everything that has been done.
Here is my message to Senate Democrats: Don't miss this opportunity to prove to the American people that the government can work. In the process, you should be able to remain in power and perhaps build on congressional majorities—something that is also necessary to maintain the progress you have made by the end of the term and make more strides in the future. The polls unanimously say the American people back you on passing the stimulus, including lots of Republicans too.
Some Congressional Democrats seem to be fine with a delay on COVID 19 in exchange for attempting to pass the minimum wage increase to $15 dollars. They must not understand the political need to be flexible with Biden so that, in the long-run, the Biden Administration can accomplish more of the priority goals that were promised. Pushing the minimum wage increase now only increases the possibility for failure. There are some brilliant and very important members of Congress who are occasionally short-sighted and do not always see the big picture. With so much to be done, and much of it critical for the American people, it is certainly easy to get in a hurry. But save the push on a minimum wage increase until after the Covid package and infrastructure, when you will have the momentum of those two going forward to successfully deliver on a federal policy to increase the minimum wage.
Infrastructure investment will and should be the next congressional priority. In doing so, we will be addressing a fundamental matter where, compared to many other countries, we have much to do. Bridges, highways, broadband, major improvements in transportation—this would be a huge win. It will bring good jobs to boost the economy, get a real start on climate change, and modernize much of our transportation system. The stimulus, infrastructure, and increasing minimum wage are all important, but they need to be done in a certain order to succeed. There is strong support for these policies from the people, and they will get done if strong and wise leadership prevails.
Again, if Democrats screw this up, we are handing the Republicans the opportunity to take the Congress back in less than 2 years and not re-elect Biden. If that happens, they will likely reverse virtually everything done by Biden and the Congressional Democrats.
An advantage for Republicans, to be optimistic in the long-term, is that a big Biden win might be what it takes for the sane Republicans still with Trump to start to leave the crazies and return to rebuilding a responsible conservative party so desperately needed for the future.
Meeting big goals leads to momentum, failing leads to inertia, and that is something this country must avoid.