Commentary

Gosh, what fate awaits Democrats in 2022?

June 27, 2021 7:35 am

It doesn’t have to be this way. (Image by Frank Oschatz from Pixabay)

And not a single Republican voted for it. The party of the president almost always gets clobbered in the first midterm election of the presidency, and Republicans are hoping that holds true in 2022. To be on the safe side, and in the absence of a kitchen-table policy agenda, Republicans are also trying their level best to undermine democracy by passing laws all over the place to restrict voting rights, while filibustering voting rights protections.

The normal voter, inasmuch as such an animal exists, would prefer not to think about an election that’s a year and a half away. And Infrastructure Week – finally and for reals! – sucked up much of whatever oxygen (i.e., not much) a late June news consuming public had for national news over the last several days. 

But other than the simple fact of not being whatshisface, the Democrats’ best issue going into 2022 won’t be infrastructure (assuming a bill gets passed), but very possibly legislation to make a recent expansion of the child tax credit permanent. A provision passed in the American Rescue Plan, the tax credit is potentially the most consequential and positive policy change for working families in decades. 

And not a single Republican voted for it.

The American Rescue Plan increased the overall amount of the credit, which people will enjoy when they file taxes next year. But far more importantly, next month parents in Nevada and the nation will start getting what is basically a monthly allowance from the federal government. The amounts are significant – up to $300 per child. It is estimated that more than an eye-popping 600,000 Nevada children will benefit from the tax credit.

Did I mention not a single Republican voted for it?

I freely admit I have zero idea what has been driving Democratic messaging over the last, oh, 40 years, other than conditioned-response genuflection to campaign contributors and mortal dread that some Republican somewhere might call them a liberal. This is how we get bombarded with ads telling everyone how much Democrats love small business. Which is fine. But the number of voters who own small businesses is a tiny fraction of the electorate — and even a tiny fraction of that portion of the electorate composed of cash-strapped parents.

The problem with the expanded tax credit is it expires at the end of the year. Democrats want to make it permanent, and hopefully their improbable boss, Joe Manchin, will allow them to make it so, in the big reconciliation measure Democrats hope to pass “in tandem” with an infrastructure bill.

And then Democrats can run on that. 

And Republicans can run on ending a monthly allowance for working families while at the same time effectively raising their taxes. Well, that and whatever culture war baubles are making noise at the time.

The child tax credit in itself – along with the simple fact of not being whathisface – might be enough to save the midterms for the Democrats.

Couple it with legislation to lower Medicare’s eligibility age from 65 to 60 or 55, also expected to be in the reconciliation bill, and who knows, maybe the Democrats could even win enough Senate seats to relegate Manchin and fellow bipartisan fantasist Kyrsten Sinema to the back-benching obscurity they so richly deserve.

Plus – and far more importantly – millions of people would be much better off than they are today.

***

Jobs jobs jobs. The new new normal will be different from the old new normal and it remains to be seen if, on balance, it’ll be a better or worse. Barring progress like the child tax credit becoming permanent, for a lot of people, it’ll be worse.

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh was in Las Vegas last week to make nice noises about Biden’s infrastructure bill. He and Gov. Steve Sisolak made a few appearances around town and in one of them touted some already approved federal assistance for apprenticeship programs. Plumbing and carpentry are good jobs, so be a plumber or carpenter, Sisolak more or less said

Plumbing and carpentry and generally fixing things do tend to be good jobs.

But apprenticeship and other “workforce development” programs that aim to prepare people for “good” jobs have always rested in part on a disturbing underlying premise: The U.S. of A., as a collective entity, will never enact wage, health care and working condition regulations and policies to assure the majority of jobs in the actual economy we have are, you know, “good.” Instead, as per the premise, we are content to allow most jobs in America to remain rather bad.

As originally proposed, Biden’s infrastructure bill included an ambitious plan to do something about one piece of the problem in particular by making a huge investment in what is, in raw numbers, the nation’s largest growing occupation, home caregiving. That provision was jettisoned from the infrastructure compromise bill, and now it’s fate, like that of the child tax credit, a lower Medicare eligibility age and oodles of other nice things, will hinge on the reconciliation bill. 

***

Sovereign sheriffs. Many of you will remember the classic headline in The Onion, “Area Man Passionate Defender Of What He Imagines Constitution To Be.” It immediately came to mind while reading this story in the Elko Daily Free Press about a handful of rural Nevada sheriffs spouting radical extremist sovereign citizen ideology. Alas, their constitutional illiteracy and precious pretentiousness isn’t as laughable as it might be, since they’re effectively sympathizing with and promoting beliefs driving domestic terrorism. Home Means Nevada, though.

***

The Victorville Express. No surprise, but the investment firm that wants to build the train to Victorville says it won’t ask to bogart Nevada’s limited supply of yummy super tax-friendly public bond financing until next year, the Review Journal reports. I still say if the resort industry is hot for a tourist transit system — which is what that train is — let MGM et al finance it themselves, and save the state’s limited bonding capacity for far and away its highest and best use: financing low-income housing.

***

Who were you running with in your early 20s? I think I’ll go with this answer: None of your beeswax. However, Tracy Stone-Manning, the Montana woman Biden nominated to head the Bureau of Land Management, was running with a monkey wrench gang, though pretty marginally and on the edges, it looks like. Needless to say Republican senators, none of whom have ever done anything that might be described as ill-advised, imprudent, or rash, especially in their youth, are now going all Red Queen and squealing “off with her head.”

***

Inflatable windsock sighting. There were a couple of GOP events in the rurals featuring gubernatorial hopefuls this month, The Associated Press reported, and among the speakers was one Dean Heller.

I have already staked out a position on Heller running for governor, which I’ll reiterate here: I sincerely hope he runs, in the equally sincere expectation his campaign will be farce laced with humiliation. You see, while perhaps not as pronounced as when I was younger, I still have a sadistic side.

(The above items are excerpts, some lightly massaged, others more heavily, of material published in the Daily Current newsletter, the editor’s opinionated morning news roundup, which you can subscribe to here.)

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Hugh Jackson
Hugh Jackson

Hugh Jackson was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and author of the Las Vegas Gleaner political blog. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and editor at the Casper (Wyoming) Star-Tribune.

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