Why Are Progressives Declaring Victory?
With the $1.9 trillion Covid relief package set to be signed into law, progressive lawmakers were asked to respond to some of the changes that had been made by the Senate to the original legislation. Changes such as the elimination of the $15 an hour minimum wage provision, the reduction of $400 unemployment insurance payments down to $300, and “further targeting” eligibility for the next round of stimulus checks in the midst of the greatest public health and economic crisis the country has faced in modern history. When addressing the changes, chair of the progressive caucus Representative Pramila Jayapal said that although she does not believe the changes made by Senate Democrats were good policy or good politics, she finished with “but we’ll take the win”, adding that she believes it is their work that made it as progressive as it is.
I’m sorry, but where exactly have progressive lawmakers “won”?
Whether it be in the context of the relief package or the Biden presidency overall, where is the progressive caucus able to point to real, substantive victories?
My goal is not to disparage lawmakers like Jayapal, AOC, Rashida Tlaib, or Ilhan Omar. I believe they have good intent and have the right policy goals in mind, but they are lawmakers who deserve to be held accountable just like the rest of their colleagues. The idea that Jayapal would even attempt to spin this as some sort of win is not only frustrating, it’s frankly insulting. Bombs have been dropped on Syria.
In the covid relief bill Americans are getting $600 less in relief, with no recurring payments. There is no student debt relief in sight. No $15 minimum wage happening any time soon. No Green New deal, no Medicare for All, and no reason to believe Biden or Democrats are going to get any more substantive legislation passed throughout the rest of his four year term because Democrats refuse to get rid of the fillibuster.
Six progressives couldn’t even muster up the courage to hold their votes unless a $15 minimum wage was in the bill, but sure, “we’ll take the win”.
As hard as Representatives like Jayapal are trying to sell this as some sort of victory, voters should not buy it. As good as their intentions are and while I genuinely believe progressive lawmakers want a $15 minimum wage, student debt cancellation, and Medicare for All, they were elected to congress to have a backbone that they cannot seem to find. Joe Manchin has spent weeks threatening to vote no on a covid relief bill if it included a $15 minimum wage.
There was nothing stopping even just a handful of progressive lawmakers from using their leverage in the slimmer majority in the House to do the same thing if that provision was not included. There was nothing stopping them from calling Senator Manchin’s bluff, holding firm and forcing him to be the one who killed the desperately needed raise for millions of people.
But, unlike Manchin, progressives in congress are worried about backlash.
The thing is, the media despises progressives anyways, and I’m not sure what it’s going to take for them to realize that corporate Democrats are not their allies. In Washington, the pressure to conform is relentless and whether progressive lawmakers want to admit it or not, that pressure is being inflicted upon them under the guise of promises and strategy. We need fighters, and for them to fail to take the opportunity to inflict pressure that at least had a chance of succeeding in order to get the bare minimum of their policy goals passed is disappointing to say the least. I don’t care what any of them have to say on Twitter. It’s time for them to fight, and I’m done with the justifications and excuses.