Just say no. This seems to sum up the position of Republicans in Congress these days. For all talk about bipartisan compromise or about two sides working together, at the end of the day, the Republican position is simply to say no.
The scope of what they won’t do is breathtaking.
They say no to expanded support for child care centers, vital in an economy where both parents have to work. They say no to investing in renewables and electric cars. They say no to renovating America’s decrepit and outdated infrastructure, including clean, safe drinking water. They say no to democratic reforms and the end of secret money in politics. They just say no.
It doesn’t matter how popular the problem is. Most Americans want sound gun control laws. According to the Pew Research Center, 70% of Republicans support background checks for all gun sales, including those at gun shows. When it comes to pushing through the reforms, Republicans in both chambers simply say no.
It doesn’t matter if it’s just basic fairness. Fifty-five of America’s largest corporations paid no federal income taxes last year, and the wealth of just 650 billionaires grew by 50%, while millions of working Americans suffered. Two-thirds of Americans support raising taxes on those earning more than $ 400,000 a year, as proposed by Joe Biden. Both House Republicans reject any tax increase on business or the wealthy, including the 82% benefit that went to the top 1% and 63% that went to the tenth of 1% of the one big achievement Trump’s Legislative Assembly in 2017.
It does not matter that the reform aims to deal with a threat to our existence. Catastrophic climate change is already taking lives and costing this country billions of dollars every year – and it’s getting worse every year. Scientists are giving us about 10 years to make the transition to renewable energy. Joe Biden proposed a modest investment in renewables, electric cars and home renovations. His proposal is far less than what scientists say is necessary, far less than what he promised during his campaign. He is already compromised in the face of the expected Republican opposition. But Republicans just say no.
It does not matter whether the reform is essential to human life and to equality of justice before the law. Most Americans support police reform, including a federal ban on strangling (71%), a ban on racial profiling (71%), and an end to “qualified immunity” for officers in court cases (59 %). For decades and now, Congress has been unable to pass anti-lynching legislation. Efforts to push through reforms meet – unsurprisingly now – with almost universal Republican opposition.
It doesn’t matter if the measure is a bipartisan bill for an independent bipartisan commission to investigate the sacking of the Capitol and the attempt to stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election on January 6. Even though their lives and members were in danger, the Senate Republicans lined up to support a filibuster to say no.
Republicans are using their efforts to find common ground to curb progress before lining up to say no. They make big gestures that turn out on inspection just to be jive. For example, the biggest “bipartisan” negotiations involve Joe Biden’s American Jobs Bill, which Republicans oppose. Biden called for $ 2.3 trillion over eight years to invest in rebuilding America, restarting the transition to sustainable energy and ensuring affordable, quality child care essential if parents are to return to work. In April, Republicans offered a laughable $ 568 billion over five years, removing virtually everything but roads and bridges from their proposal (and most of it was already in the budget).
Biden compromised, removing $ 552 billion from his proposal. Republicans grabbed the headlines to hit $ 953 billion – it was just a sham. As the analysis of the invaluable Congressional Progressive Caucus Action Fund has shown, the second Republican offering spanned eight years. And they offered to pay most of that by taking previously earmarked funds to deal with the pandemic and its victims over the next few years. In terms of annual spending, the actual change in the second proposal from the first was only $ 2 billion per year. It is not a negotiation in good faith; it’s a joke.
Republicans don’t want corporations or the wealthy to pay more taxes. They do not want to increase the minimum wage. They oppose reforms that would facilitate the organization and collective bargaining of workers. In 20 states, Republican governors are cutting federal unemployment insurance, hoping to force people into low-paying jobs. They don’t want to revive the Voting Rights Act; they want to suppress the vote more. They don’t want to limit the role of big money in elections or end the gerrymandering of districts to their advantage. This list can continue.
Republicans celebrate the 2018 economy under Donald Trump ahead of the pandemic. Yet it was an economy in which 40% of Americans had negative net incomes and were forced to borrow to meet basic household needs. It was an economy that subsidized fossil fuels and ignored the threat posed by climate change. It was an economy that forced parents into debt to pay for child care, forced students into debt to pay for college education, and forced Americans to pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, even those created at the expense of the taxpayer.
Of course, when they run for re-election, Republicans will take credit for Biden’s US bailout that was passed without a Republican vote. No one should be fooled. At a time when America faces cascading crises, Republicans are simply saying no. If we are even to start fixing the problems we have, the voters will have to say no to those who stand in the way.
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