Commentary

Mini-Manchins amongst us?

August 15, 2021 8:57 am

Susie Lee in Las Vegas Wednesday talking about the expanded child tax credit. Which probably won’t be extended let alone made permanent if Lee’s fellow radical centrists get their way. (Photo: April Corbin Girnus)

Nevada Rep. Susie Lee joined a few of her fellow moderates and signed a letter in July calling for the House to pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill without waiting for the Senate to also send over a much larger companion budget resolution.

Doing so would, among other things, free moderate zealots in the House to vote against, possibly even kill, the the package of reforms and spending in the budget resolution.

The Senate passed the infrastructure bill Tuesday. The budget resolution is is still being worked over in the Senate, but the framework consists of truly transformative and long overdue policies and programs to address housing, climate, education, health care, social services, and working families and income inequality.

But if the House were to pass the already Senate-approved infrastructure bill now, House moderate could vote against the budget resolution and still fulfill their highest priority: crowing to constituents about holy sacred bipartisanship amen.

Yeah, screw that.

Democrats could lose control of Congress in 2022 (and almost assuredly will if they don’t pass the budget resolution), and the presidency in 2024. The window to get things done is open now. For Democrats to blow that opportunity would be inexcusable and unforgivable.

To her credit (or not, depending on your POV), Lee was not among the nine House Democrats who signed a letter this week explicitly telling Nancy Pelosi to pass the infrastructure bill immediately and on its own.

Since her entry in politics Lee has pursued a relentless quest to assure voters in Nevada’s third congressional district that, no matter what Republicans say, doggone it she is too a moderate extremist. 

The well-being of her constituents far, far outweighs her impulse to stubbornly cling to the Reagan-Thatcher-dictated version of Democratic political calculation. Lee & Friends make up enough late 20th century-style Democrats in the House to curtail, in tandem with Joe Manchin, the scope of the big budget resolution.

Hopefully, for her constituents and people across the nation, tsk tsk noises from Lee and her centrist colleagues about the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package will amount to no more than political theater. Hopefully, when the time comes, Lee will put the nation’s needs ahead of what her consultants might think is her own best political interest, and vote for All The Nice Things.

Lee of course is not the only Democratic officeholder in Nevada who is a centrist extremist (the state is lousy with ‘em tbh). She’s not even the only one in Congress. Sen. Jacky Rosen also tends to profess a profound preference for purifying bipartisanship and its constant companion, picayune policy. 

About three weeks after Biden and a bipartisan group of senators announced they had reached a deal for an infrastructure framework in June, Rosen decided to join them. And then when the actual legislative deal was announced last month, Rosen’s office was quick to issue a statement saying “hey everybody Jacky Rosen is part of that bipartisan group of senators, too, no really!” or words to that effect.

As the $3.5 trillion package is worked over in the Senate, it seems unlikely Rosen would help squish parts of it. That’s what Manchin’s for. Why get involved? Could be messy! 

Then again, if Rosen were to turn her back on her party, and even support explicitly, deliberately bad policy for political  calculations, that would not be unprecedented

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BFD, really. In July, Nevada households representing well over a half million children collectively were on the receiving end of 143.3 million American dollars, thanks to the new and improved child tax credit. The Current’s April Corbin Girnus wrote a story this week breaking down some of the details, including average payment per family and preliminary findings indicating what people spend it on, and how big a difference it makes. (Spoiler: for two-thirds of recipients, the answer is “huge.”) 

For a little perspective, the new supercalifragilistic mining tax that was the Political Deal of the Century or whatever at the Nevada Legislature this year might generate $150 million a year. Nevada families just got $143 million in one month.

As I’ve said multiple times, the expanded child tax credit is one of the most consequential domestic policy advancements in decades, and it may loom very, very large in the 2022 election cycle. Even larger than – gasp! – critical race theory.

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Water cycle vs. spin cycle. Given the dramatic acceleration of drastic impacts identified in the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, it looks like, as a practical matter, right-wing spin ultimately prevailed on this issue. Congratulations to Jim Inhofe and his snowball, people who have spent the last couple decades saying “clean coal” as if there is such a thing, and everyone else who has done so much to get us where we are today. Now here’s one of the lead authors of the IPCC report to tell you what you’ve won

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Yay! Another Republican is joining the race for Nevada governor. His name is Guy Nohra (not to be confused with Guy Noir) and of course he thinks critical race theory is history’s greatest monster, except when “election fraud” is. In other words, there’s not much daylight between him and the other announced candidates, Joe Lombardo, John Lee and Joey Gilbert. They’re all really going to have to struggle to differentiate themselves! Poor guys. However, one possible difference: While this new guy may not have much sense, evidently he has many, many dollars, and he says he’s going to spend at least one million of them on his campaign for starters. Congratulations to whichever political consultants win this lottery. Here’s to taking the tyro for a ride.

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Has R&R jumped the shark? In the latest instalment of the Blockchains thing (yes, it’s still a thing) we find Pete Ernaut, one of the partners in the historic, folkloric, epic and widely beloved and trusted advertising, PR and lobbying firm R&R Partners, telling lawmakers that the Blockchains thing will be the most transformative development in Nevada since the legalization of gambling. 

Um, OK

Ernaut, along with others on the Blockchains charm offensive payroll, are still unable to clearly explain why or how Blockchains will be so transformative. But it’s historic folkloric R&R so everybody has to pretend there’s some there there.

(Except for the first item, 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.)

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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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