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ANOTHER VIEW

Jim Hightower: Once Again Congress Exposes Its Butt-Ugly Morality

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Here they come again — the usual gaggle of Washington politicos and pundits who keep assailing President Joe Biden’s package of FDR-ish proposals that, at long last, would begin lifting up America’s infrastructure and working class.

“Too big,” screech these small thinkers and servants of the established plutocratic order. “Too costly, too ambitious, and ... well, too democratic.” You would expect such adamant minginess from anti-everything Republicans — but these are Democrats! Well, sort of. They’re Chicken Little Democrats, a subset whose members fastidiously call themselves middle-of-the-road moderates. Actually, though, you can almost always find them hugging the right-hand lane, clucking that the Party of the People is scaring the people with policies that — get this — directly benefit the people.

The latest example of their perverse assertion came after one of their own political adherents, Terry McAuliffe, recently lost the Virginia gubernatorial election. It’s their fault, cried the mods, pointing their blamethrowers at the Party’s progressive forces, claiming that poor Terry lost because progressives refused to cave in to conservative demands that key democratic reforms from Biden’s infrastructure bill be slashed. The go-small cognoscenti claimed that cutting the bill’s proposals to raise wages, lower drug prices, etc., would’ve made it more acceptable to Virginians. As one Washington political columnist wailed, “Had congressional Democrats given voters a reason to turn out, that could well have made the difference.”

But wait — isn’t it the job of the candidate to motivate voters? McAuliffe, a lackluster corporatist and peer of the business-as-usual Washington power structure, ran a lousy campaign basically assailing his Republican opponent for being a less-blustery political clone of former President Donald Trump. That’s true, but besides not being Trump, what was Terry offering to grassroots families to excite them about voting for him?

How’s this for poetic justice? One issue that would’ve been a winner for McAuliffe is that big progressive version of Biden’s infrastructure bill! It happens to be very popular among the voters he needed.

Sometimes, when I watch Congress in action, I can’t decide whether to laugh, cry or check myself into an insane asylum.

I’m not one who thinks all lawmakers are political hacks, quacks and corporate toadies — but that contingent does seem to dominate. Most infuriating is that our nation’s legislative institution, Congress, which purports to represent the people, routinely does what the American majority does not want done and fails to do what people do want. Take a peek at the long, slow legislative hash that Congress is making of Biden’s landmark infrastructure proposals, submitted months ago.

This is a monumental, long-overdue undertaking to reinvest in America’s physical house and social underpinnings (everything from roads and broadband networks to child care and paid family leave). The package would deliver real, tangible benefits across our nation, especially for low- and middle-income families, so it is enormously popular. Yet, when the first half of the plan recently came to a vote in the House, Republican leaders turned the people’s needs into a partisan mud-wrestling show.

Nearly every GOP member voted a loud NO on such obvious needs as fixing decrepit bridges, providing clean tap water in every community and opening preschool education programs to all 3- and 4-year-olds.

Cynical Republican gamesmanship aside, even more infuriating is the clique of self-described “moderate” Democrats who pose as champions of workaday Americans but constantly scuttle public policies that would make their lives better, instead selling them out to the priorities and power of wealthy interests. That has been the ugly “ethics” behind the stalling and track-offs in the joint demand by GOP and corporate Democrats for a trillion-dollar “compromise” in Biden’s national investment plans. What’s being compromised? Not proposals to fund the corporate wish list, but long-postponed needs of everyday Americans, including home health care, free community college, affordable housing, wage hikes, environmental justice, etc.

The wealthy and their political enablers complain that America can’t afford such projects. But, hello — these aren’t “projects,” they’re people! And permitting politicos and lobbyists to leave them behind yet again would be an abominable moral failure of our society.

Populist author, public speaker and radio commentator Jim Hightower writes “The Hightower Lowdown,” a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America’s ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at HightowerLowdown.org.

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