With New York’s primary-a-rama ending on the date of this posting and other states’ primaries pretty much wrapped up, it is time to focus on the main event, the midterms.
Stating the obvious, Democrats have been navigating a bumpy road the past few months. With a Senate divided 50-50, and a House Majority at the outset of the term offering just a four-vote margin, nothing was going to be easy in Washington. President Joe Biden’s low polling numbers have made it even more complicated.
But despite those head winds, some amazing legislation accomplishments have been racked up. They give the party’s candidates for the House and Senate a fighting chance to tout that record and present it in contrast to the Republican agenda, which is basically, no, no, no. The accomplishments stand in marked contrast to the basically non-existent legislative record of the previous administration, which over the four-year period was limited to a big tax cut for rich folks.
Among the issues that the Democratic candidates can highlight are the following:
- The American Rescue Plan, enacted early in 2021. The legislation provided a financial lifeline to millions of American families, businesses, and non-profit organizations that were struggling to keep their heads above water during the height of the Pandemic. The legislation also promoted Covid vaccinations. More than two-thirds of Americans are now vaccinated.
- The ramped-up vaccination program led to the in-person re-opening of schools. Schools were only 46 percent opened for in-person learning when Biden took office.
- More than 6.5 million jobs were added in 2021, the largest annual number in history. The current unemployment rate stands at 3.5 percent, the lowest in 50 years.
- A bi-partisan infrastructure program to rebuild roads, bridges, airports, public utilities, and public transit. After the running joke about “infrastructure week” after “infrastructure week” during the previous administration, President Biden and Congress put together the largest infrastructure funding program in history. And imagine this – the legislation passed with both Democratic and Republican votes, like in the old days when such an accomplishment was simply part of the job.
- Biden nominated and saw confirmed more circuit and district judges in the first year and a half of his presidency than any president since John F. Kennedy. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was nominated and confirmed to serve on the Supreme Court.
- The CHIPS and Science Act. After letting America’s technology lead slip away over the years, the Biden administration and Congress put together a legislative package designed to re-establish America’s role in semiconductor chip manufacturing, a critical need to serve a whole gamut of product lines that use technology to run their equipment. Another bi-partisan bill, BTW.
- The PACT Act, to provide services and benefits to members of the armed forces who were exposed to burn pits used to destroy a variety of materials in war zones. This legislation, as important as it is, was subjected to shameless politicking by Republicans. The video of Senator Ted Cruz fist-bumping his fellow Republicans after they voted against the bill is symbolic of Republican overall efforts to stand in the way of a program that was needed. Of course, the Reps were for it after they were against it, but that only happened because of the incredible lobbying work of veterans with the aid of Jon Stewart.
- The first significant gun control legislation approved in more than 20 years.
- The Inflation Reduction Act, without a single Republican in support, produced several noteworthy accomplishments including:
- The first serious effort to deal with climate change. The legislation offers tax credits and funding for renewal energy, electric vehicles, and energy-efficient home improvements.
- Firming up federal support of medical insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act by guaranteeing subsidies to eligible families and individuals who otherwise would not be able to afford that insurance.
- Allowing Medicare, for the first time, to negotiate to reduce drug prices.
- Capping monthly insulin charges at $35 for Medicare recipients.
- Beefing up the Internal Revenue Service to enforce tax laws that many businesses and high-income individuals flaunted due to lax enforcement while adding personnel to improve service to taxpayers dealing with filing issues.
- A minimum 15 percent tax on the approximately 150 corporations that have more than $1 billion in annual profits.
- The tax law enforcement and minimum tax on super-large companies are revenue producers that will pay for other programs in the bill, and in fact, will reduce the national debt.
- Directing billions of dollars of assistance to Ukraine in their fight against the Russian invasion.
- Led the effort to unite European efforts through NATO to stand with Ukraine. Promoted the expansion of NATO with the addition of Sweden and Finland, an action that drew 95 votes in support from the Senate.
- The killing of bin Laden’s Number 2 Man, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Al-Zawahiri was heavily involved in Al-Qaeda terrorist actions for more than two decades.
Compare all this to … what? The Republican Party’s campaign strategy is to just say no. They rail about inflation but offer no solutions to the issues that have contributed to that problem. They choose to promote culture wars instead of offering solutions to the nation’s problems.
The 2022 mid-term elections for a number of reasons give Republicans high expectations. Intervening events, however, such as some primary results, the selection of weak and in some cases incendiary candidates, the vote in Kansas, and the lust of Donald Trump for self-promotion to divert attention from his growing legal problems, are bringing Republican exuberance down. Daily reporting on Trump’s legal difficulties in multiple venues will help focus attention on all his transgressions and the damage he has brought to the country.
There are still eleven weeks until Election Day. There is lots of drama to play out.
This post is the 500th that I have published over the past nearly seven and a half years; a total of 545,660 words and counting.
I appreciate all the readers of this blog who continue to read, even when I write something that you might not agree with. Special thanks to my wife, Sophia, for her patience and understanding, and to my Editor, Paul Fisk, for all his help. Thank you! More to come.
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