A year ago, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, members of the Squad, and thousands of liberal members within the Democratic Party drooled at the possibilities. The media elite dutifully followed suit, promoting a list of progressive "priorities" nonstop on TV and radio, countering the evil Trump administration's tax-cut and pro-corporate agenda.
And they dreamed big arguing that a $6 trillion spending package would improve the social safety net, in a manner not seen since the passage of the New Deal and Great Society programs last century. They proposed to raise wages and benefits for home health care workers; national paid and family leave; free preschool; free community college; free child care; a permanent increase in the child and dependent care tax credit; a pathway to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants and many more who are on work visas; and more money for affordable housing.
But the progressives fell for the oldest trick in the book of pushing through legislation. They found each line item polled well as being popular - who doesn't want 12 weeks of paid leave? - but forgot that when everything is rolled into one huge package, they need to have substantial majorities to succeed legislatively.
The Democrats had lost seats in the House in the 2020 election. The Senate switched to a 50-50 composition mainly because of two weak candidates and the post-election confusion during the Georgia runoffs, which handed two relatively-safe GOP seats to the Democrats. You can't rename a post office with the Vice President having to cast a tie-breaking vote; how could you pass a $6 trillion boondoggle?
Credit the progressives for being undaunted and adding even more to their wishlist. Using scare tactics that the 2022 elections would not be legitimate, a point made several times by President Biden in his presser this week that was quickly "clarified" by the ever-alert Jen Psaki, Schumer and company tried to federalize state election laws. Highlights here included a national holiday for elections, elimination of photo ID requirements, mandatory mail-in voting, ballot harvesting, no verification of postmarks on mailed-in ballots, and many more pandemic-era changes that they had successfully championed by working quietly with state legislatures and election commissioners.
By the time of the first anniversary of the Biden presidency, every "priority" above died a loud death in the Senate. Two Senate Democrats, Krysten Sinema and Joe Manchin, were the champions who permanently stopped the progressives.
Sinema and Manchin, astute readers of political history, saw that the progressives never had a mandate to change America fundamentally. The champions realized that pushing through liberal priorities in a vast country that does not resemble progressive constituencies was morally wrong. Each of the 100 members of the House Progressive Caucus could keep getting reelected in their respective house districts forever, representing Fort Knox-safe electoral seats. But, the toll of rising prices that is bound to occur with a $6 trillion cash injection into the economy enshrined into law as entitlements and tax increases, when inflation is already at a 40-year high and the social costs of further dividing a nation by nixing the Senate filibuster were far too radical. Sinema and Manchin remained steadfastly wedded to these common-sense principles - and drew the ire of everyone on the Left, including death threats.
Speaker Pelosi's and Pramila Jayapal's arm twisting bore no fruit other than to expose vulnerable Democrats to vote for bills that never passed. 28 Democrats have announced retirements, a stunning rebuke of their leadership. All-talk-and-no-action Bernie Sanders, an aggressive Independent who attempted a complete takeover of the Democratic Party and nearly succeeded, has nothing to show. The Squad will continue to squeal and complain but remain popular only on Twitter. Even AOC has no political coattails to appeal to anyone outside the Jacobin Left in her safe 14th congressional district. Mayor Eric Adams, a new Black leader, opposes many of AOC's extreme views. New Yorkers will not forget when AOC, dancing in her echo chamber, led a fight to drive mighty Amazon away from New York City.
Sinema and Manchin know that fringe movements like the Squad's policies have a shelf life no longer than the political equivalent of a mosquito, which lives for about seven days. Today, Sinema and Manchin draw the profound gratitude of millions of Americans for helping save the country from an aggressive progressive onslaught. President Biden should accept the writing on the wall and begin governing - the job he was hired to do. Abandon the progressives, lower the rhetoric, unify the nation, and return to being the moderate he always was. It is a year late, but, in truth, it is never too late.
China’s Underhanded Ploys At Work
Former U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa shares his first-hand knowledge of China’s salami slicing tactic at work.
In response to our editorial Countering China’s Salami Slicing Tactic, former Ambassador Scott Brown writes: There were many instances in the Indo-Pacific wherein China would come into one of the under-developed nations and build something, like a soccer stadium in Samoa, a courthouse in the Cook Islands, a hospital and am airline terminal in Samoa, etc. They would bring in their own labor, food, and supplies. But, these buildings are not built up to code and usually fall down or are closed within a couple of years. They usually give things to the islands, for instance, dozens of ambulances to an island that does not need them and would just stay unused. They come in, take photos, get a big headline and then leave.
Many times they come back and ask for payment. There was never any expectation that it would be repaid, but it was always a loan. When these under-developed nations can't pay, China will take an island, a runway, or some strategic place for their advancement or force them to give Beijing a UN vote as compensation.
China has made new islands in an effort to expand its territory. They are attempting to change the law of the air and the law of the sea and to change international laws that have been in place for hundreds of years. They steal our and other country's intellectual property and still claim to be a developing nation to gain a tactical advantage in the WTO. It's a joke. I could go on forever.
If they want to be a world leader and world power, they have to start playing by the rules of Fair Play, which they are not.
Please also see the video in this link for additional insights.
Scott Brown served as the United States Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa from 2017 to 2020.
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