End of the Beginning, At Best

29 July 2021


Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Overcomes Filibuster


The United States Senate voted to begin debate on the bipartisan infrastructure bill last night on a vote of 67-32, with 60 yeas needed. The bill calls for $1 trillion in spending, some but not all of it new, to fix America's bridges, roads, rails and other items. The American Society of Civil Engineers believes more than $2 trillion is needed, but one thing at a time with this Congress. Despite this vote, there is no guarantee that the final bill will ever get to the president's desk. Progressives and wrecker Republicans both have reason to oppose it.

For those who believe bipartisan legislation is the key to American happiness and success, this vote was good news. "This deal signals to the world that our democracy can function," President Biden said ahead of the vote. "We will once again transform America and propel us into the future."

Republican Senator Robert Portman of Illinois said, "At a time when Washington seems broken, this group of members . . . came together, along with others, and decided we are going to do something great for our country. Despite the popularity of it, and the need for it, Washington hasn't been able to get it done. This time we're going to get it done."

Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona said the Senate showed, "a commitment to show that bipartisan[ship] is alive and well and works in our country."

Well, perhaps. There is another bill, a Democratic one that the GOP opposes to a man, that will spend $3.5 trillion on things not traditionally considered infrastructure, e.g., child care. The progressives have accepted the premise that this bill will get passed via reconciliation that avoids the filibuster. They are backing the bipartisan bill on the understanding that the bigger bill will get the votes from the Democratic moderates like Ms. Sinema and West Virginia's Joe Manchin. Ms. Sinema announced yesterday that she opposes the current reconciliation bill as it stands. No doubt there are a few others.

The issue for the House will be whether to pass the bipartisan bill, which is quiet popular, if the Senate does not pass the reconciliation bill. Speaker Pelosi has said that she won't bring either to the floor if the other has not passed the Senate. Thus, a scenario is set where no bill gets passed because the Democrats lack party discipline. Bipartisanship is nice, but party cohesion is vital.

At the other end of the spectrum are the Trumpist wreckers in the GOP. These people believe that anything that passes counts as a loss for them. They do not want America to succeed under Joe Biden because if it does, they will lose another election. Their strategy is to burn the nation to the ground if need be so that they can rule over the ashes. As despicable as this is, that is how they will act. They will vote against any bill, and they will use every parliamentary trick they can to stop legislation passing.

Consequently, there is considerable doubt as to whether anything is going to pass. If all of it passes, one expects the economic recovery to accelerate. In the second quarter, the US economy grew 6.5% on an annualized basis. That fell short of expectations closer to 8.5% but is still the second fastest rate in the last 38 years. Inflation is a mild risk, and until it hits a sustained 4-5%, nothing should be done about it. Deflation is in the rear-view mirror but not that far back.

If the reconciliation bill fails, expect the progressives in the Democratic Party to primary the moderates, kick up a fuss elsewhere and in general act out. That is not to say they are wrong to do so. If the bill doesn't pass, the moderates will have betrayed them. A deal is a deal, after all.

© Copyright 2021 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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