Tom McDonald

Forget what the polls say, President Biden is getting things done.

Some on the left say his accomplishments are too little too late, while others on the right cry socialism and foul play, but let the record show that, so far, Biden’s been an effective leader.

In less than a year, he has managed the pandemic and a massive vaccine rollout, not as well as some would have hoped but far more competently than his predecessor. If you ask someone like me — a card-carrying, fully vaccinated recipient of some impressive science — you’ll hear that, when it comes to COVID, we’re much better off than we were a year ago. You’ve got to give Biden a piece of the credit for that.

Plus, he got us out of Afghanistan. It was messy and agonizing, like a repeat of our Vietnam withdrawal, but he got it done. Let’s just pray the mothers and daughters left over there survive the Taliban-fashioned hell we left them in.

And now Biden’s got a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill to dole out. All aboard the gravy train!

New Mexico alone is going to get a $3.5 billion infusion into its economy, with money for roads and bridges, rural broadband and internet access, electric vehicle charging stations, water conservation projects, drought and wildfire mitigation, and jobs, jobs and more jobs.

It’s unclear how many New Mexicans will be put to work with these infrastructure projects, but the White House projects it will create 2 million jobs nationally over the next 10 years.

Clearly, that’s something Democrats can run on.

Forget the so-called “bellwether” election we just went through, next year’s mid-term elections will be very different. Infrastructure work is expected to begin as soon as this coming spring, which means more jobs in an election year. This bill may have passed with bipartisan support — meaning every last Democrat in both chambers and only handful of Republicans scattered about — but it’s the Democrats who will get the overall credit.

Next comes a $1.9 trillion budget reconciliation bill, one that would help everyday families in many ways, and might come up for a House vote this week.

If passed as it is currently written, Biden’s next bill will: provide pre-K for all 3- and 4-year-olds; subsidize child-care expenses for struggling workers; extend the enhanced child tax credit and earned income tax credit that families are currently receiving; beef up Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) subsidies to low- and moderate-income families; expand Medicaid; invest in affordable housing programs for low-income families; increase Pell grants to students; grow school lunch programs; and more.

In other words, this bill has the potential to grow our middle class — which is just about the healthiest thing you can do for the American economy.

This budget bill would also make available about $570 billion in incentives to battle climate change — such as tax credits to families that install solar rooftops and incentives for buying electric vehicles — while also creating a Civilian Climate Corps to conserve public lands and prepare communities for severe weather events and more.

In other words, the bill addresses, albeit modestly, our need for a future on an inhabitable planet.

Paying for it all has been a sticking point, with Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona raising objections to new taxes on corporations and billionaires. And since Biden will need every Democratic vote to pass it through a 50-50 Senate, their objections must be addressed.

If Biden and the Democrats can pull it off, they’ll be in a good position to reestablish themselves as the party of the working class — a pivotal demographic that elects presidents. We could be looking at the underpinnings for big Democratic wins in 2022 and ‘24.

But there are a couple of economic threats that could derail such forward momentum for the Democrats — runaway inflation and disruptions in the supply chain. Biden administration officials say they’ll get the current increase in prices under control soon enough, and the kinks in supply chain will untangle in time, but of course they’d say all that. These issues will have to be contained next year or else the Democrats will pay a price at the polls.

But of course, nobody knows for sure what’s in store in 2022 and 2024, when politics and history will turn once again — and the economy will drive millions to the polls.

 

Tom McDonald is founder of the New Mexico Community News Exchange, which distributes this column statewide. He’s also editor and publisher of the Guadalupe County Communicator in Santa Rosa. He can be reached at tmcdonald.srnm@gmail.com.

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