September 25, 2021

Time for pragmatism

 Sam Smith - Having been introduced to politics in Philadelphia and the Boston area, I find it easier than many to separate my idealism from my pragmatism. Basically,  the former takes precedence between elections while the latter rises as elections near.

As a case in point, I find it strange that the Democrats, with narrow margins in both houses of Congress, should not be doing a better job of negotiating with people like Joe Manchin, who, while coming from the reputedly rough and tough state of West Virginia, also has gotten his major funding over the past five years from stock & investment firms and lawyers.

While Biden’s jobs and families plan is noble, he doesn’t seem to have the votes. In an earlier time – say under Lyndon Johnson – the Dems would be working the vote six different ways to come up with something even Manchin could go along with. As Politico reports, Manchin’s “colleagues hope he will single out which provisions in the social spending program that he wants to ax so they can begin negotiating in earnest, but he’s in no rush to do so.”

As Catherine Rampell put it in the Washington Post:

Democrats must start having tough conversations within their party about which initiatives to prioritize, shrink or cut entirely. Manchin has offered some ideas for trimming spending that are, frankly, bad (such as adding work requirements to the child tax credit). But some experts, such as the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, have offered relatively common-sense suggestions for how to slim down the bill by better targeting safety-net expansions to the neediest (e.g., requiring wealthier seniors to pay premiums for new Medicare benefits).

Well, to clarify, I think such ideas are common-sense. They are likely to trigger a nasty fight with the party’s left wing, though, which is probably why they haven’t been adopted already. Fortunately for Democratic leaders, the party is still relatively united in blaming Manchin for obstructing their agenda. So long as that continues, these more difficult confrontations can get kicked further down the road.

As I’ve noted before, any number other than zero before “trillion” is impressive and while it may not be what the more decent people want, it would be a clear step forward and a huge improvement over getting nothing.

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September 24, 2021

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September 21, 2021

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Bringing population into the environmental discussion

In just the past fifty years, the world's population has more than doubled and three times as many people live in urban areas than a half century ago. Yet this aspect of environmental change gets pushed out of the discussion of the issue, in  part because it's not considered polite to suggest to others how many children they should have. Here's an organization taking on this issue and proposing some approaches. 

September 20, 2021

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Just the facts: paid family leave for mothers

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The preface to change