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Politics In Biden's next 100 days, progressives must reclaim their power

19:01  04 may  2021
19:01  04 may  2021 Source:   thehill.com

Progressive lawmakers reflect on wins and losses in Biden's first 100 days

  Progressive lawmakers reflect on wins and losses in Biden's first 100 days Progressives in the House were apprehensive when Joe Biden stepped into office -- the President was an unabashedly moderate Democrat and ready to cut deals with Republicans, many of whom he had known longer than some progressive members of Congress had been alive. © Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez(D-NY) next to Senator Ed Markey, D-MA, speaks during a press conference to re-introduce the Green New Deal in front of the US Capitol in Washington, DC on April 20, 2021.

Now that we're past the end of Joe Biden's first 100 days, everyone is analyzing how he did. From the progressive perspective, the jury is out on President Biden. He passed a large COVID relief bill, but almost any president would have passed a sizable relief bill. He got a relief bill larger than President Obama after the 2008 crash and it had some small progressive priorities in it. That seems like an awfully low bar to clear to start comparisons to Franklin D. Roosevelt.

a couple of people that are talking to each other: In Biden's next 100 days, progressives must reclaim their power © Getty Images In Biden's next 100 days, progressives must reclaim their power

Biden also went out of his way to kill the top progressive priority in the bill - the $15 minimum wage. Both Delaware Senators voted against increasing minimum wage. That's Biden saying that he never wanted it in the first place. Those are his top two allies in the Senate. That's an open-handed slap at progressives.

Fact check: Biden's speech had an estimated 26.9 million viewers

  Fact check: Biden's speech had an estimated 26.9 million viewers The president’s first address to Congress had 26.9 million viewers, not 11.6 million as claimed in a social media post.An April 29 Facebook post from James T. Harris, a conservative radio host and social media personality, lists television ratings for five past presidential addresses — four from former President Donald Trump and one from Biden. The post says Biden’s address to Congress had only 11.6 million viewers, compared to 37.2 million viewers for Trump’s 2020 State of the Union speech.

It's possible Biden could rally and go further left or be more ambitious, but I would be quite surprised. I think we're likely at the high-water mark in his presidency. I doubt he'll effectively fight corporate Democrats in the Senate, who want to block most of his theoretical agenda. It's far more likely to be kabuki theater than an actual fight. After all, Joe Biden is arguably the prototypical corporate Democrat. He doesn't want to fight them because he is them.

Going forward, the most likely outcome is that Biden will start negotiating away everything vaguely progressive while saying the Democratic mantra of, "There was nothing I could do!"

That leads to the question of how progressive leaders in Congress did in the first 100 days of the Biden presidency. The honest answer is, poorly. Fifteen dollar minimum wage is the simplest progressive priority. They were supposed to get that win on the board immediately and then move on to things that were harder. Instead, they got crushed and don't even seem to realize it.

Why President Joe Biden's speech to Congress was unlike any other in modern history

  Why President Joe Biden's speech to Congress was unlike any other in modern history A joint sessions speech, known for its glad-handing cadence, was bound to be subdued with only 200 folks permitted at an event that can hold 1,500.President Joe Biden's address to a joint session of Congress was unlike any in modern history due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With no more than 200 folks permitted for an event that can hold up to 1,500, an event known for its glad-handing cadence and rousing moments was destined to be subdued.

On the minimum wage issue, progressives theoretically have the president, the vice president, all of Democratic leadership in Congress and the overwhelming majority of the American people on their side. And they still didn't even come close. If progressives can't win on this, they can't win on anything.

If they go this whole two-year term without passing the most basic progressive priority - the very first thing on our priority list - it would have to be considered a colossal failure.

I co-founded Justice Democrats and even named the group. So, no one is rooting for them more than I am. But friends have to be honest with each other. Right now, there is no effective leadership, there is no planning and there is no effective opposition to the right-wing of the Democratic Party. The only thing worse than getting routed is not realizing you're getting routed.

Has anyone asked for accountability for losing on their simplest policy demand? Was this provision even demanded in the last bill? Were there any concessions that they extracted from the Biden administration for killing that part of the bill? Do they have any plan to get it passed now? Will they even object if it's never brought up again?

Susan Wright, congressman's widow, makes US House runoff in Texas

  Susan Wright, congressman's widow, makes US House runoff in Texas Rep. Ron Wright died just weeks into office after a COVID diagnosis. His widow, endorsed by Donald Trump, is now in a runoff for his seat.But who she will face remained too early to call. With nearly all votes counted, Republican Jake Ellzey led Democrat Jana Lynne Sanchez by 354 votes in the race for the second runoff spot in Texas' 6th Congressional District, which has long been GOP territory.

Progressive leadership in the House just released their wish list for the infrastructure bill. The minimum wage isn't even on it. This is beginning to look like capitulation. You can't ask for more leverage than a voting bloc that can stop any bill. It's simply not true that they don't have the power to make demands. They're just choosing not to use that power.

On the other hand, progressives appear to be exuberant about their newfound access to power. Here's my question - so what? Who cares that they have access to the president if they never get anything for it? You're not supposed to use that access to pad your resume, you're supposed to use it to make demands on behalf of your voters. The Biden administration has deftly smothered them with kindness, and it appears progressive leaders melted. While access might be intoxicating to the people who have it, it is irrelevant to the 27 million Americans who desperately need a raise.

In Washington, there is a powerful reality-warping force field that makes legislators feel like they're doing a great job when they've done nothing at all. People who pop that bubble are usually reviled. But progressive leaders outside of Congress enabling this inaction aren't helping progressive legislators, they're hurting them. At some point, when you have no legislative victories, the chickens will come home to roost. The base is already beginning to lose hope. As a friend and an ally, I'm telling them now, it's an ambush! You're going to get nothing unless you fight back.

Frederick Douglass said, "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." Unfortunately, so far, almost nothing has been demanded of power and accordingly, it has conceded nothing. If the rest of these two years goes like the first 100 days, progressives will have gotten exactly what they asked for - nothing.

Cenk Uygur is the CEO, founder and host of The Young Turks and co-founder of Justice Democrats.

What it's been like fact-checking Joe Biden through 100 days .
Things have been quieter around here in presidential-fact-check land. © OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP/Getty Images US President Joe Biden delivers remarks at an event marking Amtrack's 50th Anniversary at the William H. Gray III 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on April 30, 2021. Not because President Joe Biden is accurate all the time. He certainly isn't. But through his first 100 days in the Oval Office, Biden has given us intermittent false claims rather than the staggering avalanche of daily wrongness we faced from his predecessor.

usr: 1
This is interesting!