Commentary

Are Democrats finally ready to step out of the past?

July 18, 2021 7:32 am

The expanded child tax credit is the most consequential anti-poverty program since the Reagan-Thatcher era declared holy war on anti-poverty programs. (Photo: National Archives)

The coolest thing today’s Democrats have done so far. Families in Nevada and the nation started reaping the benefits of the expanded child tax credit this week, as deposits began hitting the bank accounts of families Thursday.

Many people, including Republicans, are fond of noting that not a single Republican in Congress voted for it.

The expanded child tax credit is the most consequential anti-poverty program since the Reagan-Thatcher era declared a holy war on anti-poverty programs. But it’s more than an anti-poverty program, because the benefits, which are substantial, will also be received by families who are not in poverty (but could still use help).

Presumably not a single Republican in Congress will vote for the reconciliation bill the Democrats plan to introduce, either. The legislation is still being crafted, but one of the things we know will be in there is a provision extending the child tax credit. As of now the credit, expanded under the American Rescue Plan, is set to expire at the end of the year.

Decades of surrender to what historians call “the conservative ascendancy,” including the broad bipartisan mistaking of ideology for “common sense,” is a hard habit to break. Put another way, a lot of Democrats still have a latent knee-jerk aversion to both a) deficit spending and b) taxing rich people and corporate “job creators.” Those oldy-timey Democrats in the Senate, all of whom will be needed to bypass the procedural obscenity that is the filibuster so nice things may be enacted through the so-called reconciliation process, may insist that the child tax credit only be extended to 2025.

Other Democrats, their perspective less encumbered by the economic jingoism of yesteryear, want to make it permanent.

Normally one would expect that if the credit is extended to 2025, then in 2025 it will be extended again, if not made permanent. Because taking it away will be pretty hard, and even Republicans might be wary of doing that. The U.S. right railed against Social Security and Medicare when they were first proposed. Today’s Republicans still try to routinely undermine those earned benefits via privatization, but even among the extremism that is the party’s new mainstream, calls for eliminating Social Security and Medicare come only from those looking in from the fringe with the wildest of eyes. 

Allowing the child tax credit to expire – whether at the end of this year or in 2025 – would also be a tax hike on a majority of U.S. families, an action one would think Republicans would prefer not to have on their records. And yet when they vote against the reconciliation bill, Republicans will be voting to raise taxes on those families. And Republicans seem down with that.

The child tax credit is one of the most consequential domestic measures in decades, and could be the one issue more than any other that saves the election for Democrats in 2022, and maybe beyond. No wonder Republicans are against it.

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Where are they now?  Former game show host, failed casino developer, and white nationalist pop culture icon Donald Trump was in Las Vegas last weekend for an Ultimate Fighting Championship event. Attendees, most of whom were unvaccinated, probably, cheered enthusiastically for Trump, who due to anachronistic quirks in the U.S. election system also for a time held the office of president of the United States. That single term shockingly but fittingly ended in disgrace and infamy when a rabid mob of insurrectionists, riled up by Trump’s blatant, deliberate, perpetual, and outrageous lies, attempted to violently overthrow the results of Trump’s failed reelection bid and bring an end to democracy and the rule of law in the U.S.

In his heyday, Trump earned his living by appearing in television commercials for multiple companies and products, including Pizza Hut, the McDonald’s Big N’ Tasty Burger, and Oreo Double Stuff cookies.

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Stupid development tricks. Non-Native humans and their formulas and estimates have overallocated the Colorado River from the start. If you were to go back in time and make a plan to set sustainable limits on human activity in the Colorado River Basin, there’d be a whole lot less of it than there is. The notion of diverting more water from the river to facilitate more growth is abominable on its face. 

But just like the Clark County public lands bill so beloved by the county commission, the congressional delegation and, most importantly, the development and industrial interests for which they stand, a river diversion to accommodate Utah sprawl would be in line with the model that has guided nearly all development in the basin over the last century or so: One almost rational decision after another.

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In entertainment news… “Sources said agents are investigating (Michele) Fiore’s campaign finances, but their focus is unclear,” the Review Journal reported. There are conceivably multiple tracks the FBI could be following, encompassing a broad variety of potential shenans — using her public office to enrich family members, perhaps. Or maybe something having to do with recklessly unbridled weapons worship. All we can say for sure is, at this juncture, the only responsible thing for everyone to do is speculate wildly.

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Who wants to be a U.S. senator? Republicans across the U.S. and at every level of government, including and especially their Dear Leader, have been doing everything in their power to demonstrate their heartfelt belief that it is perfectly appropriate for virtually any nitwit at all to be a Republican officeholder. Oh look, here come a couple Nevada specimens now, announcing that they are sure they are U.S. senatorial material and so will be mounting campaigns to that effect. And no the announced entries do not as yet include putative senatorial frontrunner Adam Laxalt, who is (mostly) not a nitwit, which makes him even more disreputable because he should know better than to push the Big Lie and invite Big Liars into Nevada for his annual wingnut/lambnut hootenanny.

(The above are excerpts, some lightly massaged, others more heavily, of material published over the past week 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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