THE PASSING of the Build Back Better Act was heralded as a major victory for President Joe Biden.
He’s faced a tough first year in office – most notably the Afghanistan withdrawal – and the endless negotiations over the social spending bill didn’t help.
But Friday saw the Act finally pass in the House. It should likely clear the Senate and become Biden’s first major domestic act as President.
But amidst the centrist celebrations, there was a single voice from the Left who voted against. It wasn’t AOC or any of the Squad, but Rep. Jared Golden of Maine, who voted against the bill after citing a tax giveaway to the rich included in the Act.
The Act had come under progressive pressure throughout. Earlier this month, the Squad all voted to split the infrastructure bill from the social spending one – but were thwarted by Republicans approving it.
Each time Nancy Pelosi tried to split it, progressives held firm. They eventually approved it – but it meant they got commitments from conservative Democrats to support issues such as immigration reform and prescription drug negotiation.
But that’s it. That’s all they got.
When Biden was elected on a unity ticket, progressive voters and politicians alike were told it would mean they could pass progressive policy more easily. After all, the Democrats hold power in the White House, the Senate and the House.
And although the Build Back Better Act contains some important policies for the American working class, there will always be a thought to what could have been.
Co-founder of 34Justice Ben Spielberg said: “If a version of Build Back Better passes, as it likely will, it will be a shell of what progressive representatives proposed, what Democratic leadership said they wanted, & what the American people need.
“Yet you’ll still be told you should celebrate it as a major progressive win.”
The Bill will likely pass, save for some Manchin-Sinema antics, but the compromise involved reflects how naive many progressives were when they threw their weight behind Biden.
This is what you’ll get. A watered-down bill that could have been historic.
Next time the progressive caucus should do what they were elected to – never stand down or compromise. As the Squad grows, there’ll be no more excuses.
Be a Jared Golden.
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