What’s Holding us Back?

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Not passing the budget has become an onerous drag on the economic recovery, lowering projections of GDP for this and the next year.

The perception of legislative gridlock in Capitol Hill is unwelcome news, coming as it does right after a period of severely dysfunctional government under Mr Trump.

For most of us, the expectation from the new administration was that we would be looking at government proposing meaningful legislation that could pass, and that even in the face of fierce opposition, there would be dialogue with the minority party.

But we do not have that.

What we’re getting, instead, is political polarization that is here to stay.

We cannot put that only on republicans, because in the democratic party itself, divisions have grown more and more bitter, as if this moment were missed then legislation proposed would never, ever, get another chance.

It that is the case, then legislation of that type should not pass.

The fact that 50 republican senators are consistently opposing democratic initiatives has to be telling us something, for those legislators represent just under half of the nation and we need most people aboard our ship to move ahead.

Mind you, not all those republicans are princes for many remain beholden to Trumpism, but even then, for democrats to not reach out and find compromise is missing out on a great opportunity to show that polarization can be overcome and must.

And just maybe some republicans have good points.

Why should community college be free for those who have the means to pay for it? Because they do it in Europe? Well, we are not Europeans and their productivity is not on a par with ours, even with all our flaws.

Why should the child tax credit be extended to families who can pay?

Why should child care be extended to those who can afford it?

Generous benefits to workers during the pandemic made a difference for our economic recovery but continuing them may well be keeping people from returning to work.

The debt ceiling needs to be lifted and republicans have been obstructionistic on that count but limits are necessary. We can’t spend without restraint.

There is much necessary spending that has been neglected – to renew our infrastructure and support our scientific research and development and so bolster innovation.

And taxes – always a divisive issue – need to be made fairer, as in not permitting the super wealthy to channel their earnings through corporations instead of having it taxed as personal income, or fund managers getting taxed at the lower rate of capital gains.  

But not all of it has to be done this moment. It can be phased in.

Pulling out of Afghanistan was a huge step and I remain supportive of that action.

That president Biden’s polls are down have more to do with gridlock in Capitol Hill than with Afghanistan. More to do with his reluctance to confront the progressive wing of the party and moderate their demands.

Inflation is predicted to be manageable and maybe it will be, but it could prove tougher to deal with, particularly with people not returning to work.

The lingering pandemic, now finally easing thanks to science, remains an obstacle to our economic recovery but so is wavering leadership.

Gradualism and compromise have been crucial factors in our history. We are always better off when we let the other side feel part of our forward movement.

Keep gridlock up and democrats will lose both chambers next year.

Oscar Valdes      Oscarvaldes.net

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