This week sees everyone waiting in eager anticipation of the Trump Circus coming to town. We've spoken previously about the administration just staying focused on the job in hand and this remains imperative as all things Trump eat up the news cycle.
This is a short blog post today as I am in the middle of producing content to go alongside the impeachment trial. Whilst I know that Trump will almost definitely be acquitted, I think it worth investing time to raise awareness of not only Trump's crimes, but the complicity of those around him. The GOP is currently on the back foot and this represents a real opportunity to cement the message with the American people, to show just how close to destruction American democracy was. It's my intention to produce a series of ads that respond to events, so it will be a challenge to try and keep up in real time. I'm quite looking forward to it being a real test of nerve and ability. Bring it on I say!
Moving back to politics, the challenge for the new Administration, is the narrative that Biden is jamming through the $1.9 trillion package without support from any Republicans. This is a challenge, but only in the sense that it would be politically less inconvenient if there were some Republican support. It's clear to me, that part of the problem is, the $900 billion package Republican's last passed, was simply too little too late and rather than fix anything, it just did what all political moves do, it kicked the problem down the road for someone else to pick up. Biden now has to walk the tightrope between concessions and a progressive wing of his party that is hungry for immediate change. To be fair, they are not being unreasonable and Biden needs to be very careful to keep this wing of his party onside. For a quick summary of the proposed spending in the American Rescue Plan, take a look at this ABC piece.
There can be no question that better targeting is required. Last week I pitched the threashold at $130,000 for a family, but progressives see $150,000 as a more reasonable number. There seems little doubt, that Biden will have to compromise, but I honestly don't think he should come down to $50,000 for an individual wage, it's simply too low. Then there's the question of the minimum wage. To be honest, I always though it was cheeky to attach it to this bill, but there was no harm floating a test balloon to check the temperature out there. In any bill there has to be some slippage and Biden conceded in an interview over the weekend, that he thought that the $15 minimum wage would not survive the application of rules, as the bill passed its way through the Senate. Of course, Bernie Sanders has jumped in and suggested that this might not be the case and wants it to remain.
The number one priority, is to urgently get cash to those struggling. This needs to remain the focus and effort needs to be made to ensure the single salary threshold is above $50,000. My figure would be £65,000, however, progressives believe it should be $75,000. I'm not sure where it will land, so it will be interesting to find out. $50,000 is without doubt too low and will preclude lots of hard working Americans. It will create more of the division the administration is trying to put behind them and that will do nothing for public confidence.
The second priority is Covid related costs, in areas such as vaccination and testing. The $20 billion proposed allocation for a more focussed vaccination approach is to supplement the $8 billion already approved by Congress. This should help put into place, mass vaccination centres which would give a welcome boost to current efforts. It has not taken the new team long to get it's hands around the disastrous planning of the previous administration. The more vaccines they can get into arms, the closer the day comes when the economy can be fired up. Another key component is testing and the proposed additional $50 billion will certainly help in this critical area. One big bone of contention however, is the reopening of schools and this is seen by the right as an attempt by socialist unions, to exploit the goodwill of the new administration. This is a key focus for right wing media and also the White House press pool. I think we need to hear a little more about what Biden's feeling are on this one. The new head of the CDC seemed to jump the gun, suggesting that it wasn't necessary to vaccinate all teachers to facilitate a return the school. This isn't a fight that is going to go away anytime soon.
As we all know, it's a pet hate of Republicans to refund states for their related Covid expenses. They are obsessed with what they call 'poorly managed states' getting any money at all. The GOP view, is that Dems are looking to bailout blue states. We could go round in the old circle about red states forever being subsidised by blue states, give their metropolitan makeup. However, regardless of how you view it, EVERY state must be out of pocket as a result of Covid 19 costs. Therefore, it is stupid to suggest that funding should not be provided. The Republican approach will inevitable lead to having to 'defund the police' and other frontline services. The very mantra they were attacking Dems for espousing in 2020.
So I think what I'm trying to get at today, is that Joe should hold his nerve, press on with reconciliation to get this relief bill through. There's no harm in refining it as the bill goes through the various Senate stages. It might be too big of an ask to keep a $15 minimum wage attached to the bill, so that may be a fight for another day. The key is to pass the bill with as little removed as possible, because there will soon be an economic imperative to switch to infrastructure investment. I see the American Rescue Plan as an economic stabilising tool, nothing more. It should inject money back into the economy and pre-grease the economic engine, but the real startup will come with the agreement on a far reaching infrastructure plan that will create new jobs and focus the economy on the future.
As I've said many times before, Biden has a great team behind him. There is world class expertise in every corner of government. It's essential to get all remaining cabinet positions confirmed as soon as possible. Thankfully, he doesn't have to rely on Josh Hawley who will be looking for a flawless record in objecting to each and every one of them. That should highlight to you the state of Republican politics.
I'll say it again, there is good reason to be optimistic about the future. This week ironically will give us a good steer on the hold that Trump still has on the Republican Party and the challenges they face moving forward. Biden as I always say, just needs to stay focused on the end game and not give too much away on the rescue plan.
On a wider front, it is now the job of the Democratic Party to build a support base for a small army of Democratic candidates that will be competitive against incumbent Republicans at the 2022 min-term elections. Let me be clear, by the time 2022 arrives, Republican states will have fixed all the mechanisms that failed to suppress the vote in 2020, so candidates will not only be fighting the opposition, they will be fighting voter suppression attempts at every twist and turn. Activists will need to be awake to purging of voter rolls, the challenges of mail-in voting once again and general disruption of the electoral process. As we speak Republican state legislators will be being considering state law changes to assist sitting Republican members fight off challenges.
Thanks for stopping by and stay safe out there.