The party of ideas versus the party of Dr. Seuss

“The liberals now want to cancel Dr. Seuss.  I’m drawing a line in the sand on this one.  And that, is why I’m asking you to stand with me.  In 2013, while filibustering ObamaCare, I read Green Eggs and Ham to my daughters on the Senate floor.  If you’re willing to stand against cancel culture by donating $60 right now, I’ll sign a copy of Green Eggs and Ham and send it to you.” Senator Ted Cruz fundraising appeal

The first seventy days of the Biden administration have drawn a serious contrast between the Democratic Party and the Republican (aka Trump) Party.  The evidence is in both words and activities.

Ted Cruz, once and future Republican/Trump candidate for president, has been having a great time promoting Dr. Seuss books in the face of the publisher’s decision to remove certain books from sale.  What a great contrast he shows of what the parties are offering voters:  Cruz signs copies of Green Eggs and Ham while Joe Biden signs the American Rescue Plan.

That plan provides relief for individuals, families, schools and universities, and businesses while ramping up COVID vaccinations and treatments.  Polling has consistently shown bi-partisan support in the 70 percent range.  Even Republicans are in favor, polling about 60 percent positive.  Another poll found that more than 30 percent of Republican voters believe that Republicans in Congress supported the Rescue Plan despite the fact that not one of them voted for it.

The Trump administration left Biden to deal with the prosecution of the January 6th Trump insurrection plus crises concerning the vaccination rollout, the unemployment and economic collapse, climate matters, and assorted international problems that need serious attention.  Don’t bother looking for proposed Republican solutions to any of those issues.

Another serious matter is the problem along the southern border, a dilemma that has confronted this country and several administrations for decades.  Getting a handle on the immigration issues will need more than Executive Orders.  Legislation will be a challenge in a Congress that is essentially divided right down the middle by party, with aggressive and uncompromising elements on the fringes of both sides.

The Republican approach to the immigration issues is to send gaggles of House and Senate members to observe the border.  Lots of photo ops for those people, but they offer no legislative solutions.

The Democratic approach to the issues facing this country is to propose legislation from Biden and from members of Congress – real words on paper, intended to be debated, hoping to be enacted.  That is are how laws are made – one of your basic civic lessons in school.

Republicans have no proposals on the table to improve health care, education, the environment or jobs.  No plans to deal with the border issues are forthcoming.  “No” is not a solution to any problem.

For many years now there has been lots of talk in Washington about the need to repair and replace aging roads, bridges, airports, and transit facilities.  In fact it was discussed so much over the last four years that the Trump team’s “Infrastructure Week” became a running joke.

Infrastructure is a trillion dollar problem that will require making some hard choices.   Some of the cost should be borne by tax increases like rolling back 2017 Trump tax cuts to the wealthy.  An increase in the gasoline tax, which hasn’t changed since 1993, should be on the table.  But ”tax increase” to Republicans is like kryptonite to Superman.  While actual legislative proposals will be coming from Biden and congressional Democrats, Republicans will busy themselves with opportunities to promote culture wars that are intended to divide America.

There was a time when Congress actually debated proposed laws and when policies could be proposed and compromises could be developed for the good of the country.  Tip O’Neill could work with Ronald Reagan.  Republicans like Jack Kemp made their mark by promoting their ideas and looking to make those ideas laws.  No more.

Both parties share some blame for allowing debating and legislating to be abandoned.  Congressional rules, particularly the filibuster, have stymied the ability of well-intentioned legislators to get something done.  But changes to the filibuster rule come with its own obstacles.

Ideas can have power; words can lead to action.  Democrats are now the party of ideas, and they need to keep plugging away at it.  Maybe someday Republicans will have more to talk about than Green Eggs and Ham.

Politics on the radio

Veteran political journalist and participant Tony Farina has debuted a new radio show where he discusses politics of the day along with guests and call-ins. The show airs on Wednesdays at 6 PM on WEBR AM 1440.  Give it a listen.

For detailed reporting and analysis of local news, check out the latest articles on Investigative Post, including my Money in Politics reports.   This week we are reporting on Congressman Chris Jacobs’ fundraising.

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