May 25 2019

The Agenda Fallacy

Institutional Democrats and Credulous Centrist Commentators constantly whine and complain that the Democratic Party can not be electorally successful without having a positive future plan instead of mere opposition and obstruction.

Surprisingly, I agree as far as it goes. How far is that?

First- Democrats have an Agenda! This Democrats in Disarray crap is at best misinformed.

Also, consider that those inveighing against Impeachment claim it’s too big a distraction from Democrat’s 2020 “message” (as is indeed any mildly controversial Left policy program). They say the choice is between Impeachment and passing all these “productive” policy proposals as if Democrats are too dumb to walk and chew gum at the same time.

It’s simply not true. Democrats has passed any number of Bills that are sitting stalled in the Senate by Mitch McConnell and the Republicans. This is not novel behavior, they’ve been doing it for decades.

So the choice they would posit is between Impeachment which we will lose in the Senate, and Agenda which will also lose in the Senate.

Since we’re going to lose anyway, how about doing both?

Democrats in Congress are getting things done. Trump and Republicans are just ignoring them.
By Ella Nilsen, Vox
May 24, 2019

President Donald Trump is angry at House Democrats for “getting nothing done in Congress.” He may want to quarrel with his own party instead.

Trump released a tweet tirade on Thursday morning admonishing Democrats for not making enough progress on infrastructure, health care, and veterans issues. The tweet came after an explosive meeting on infrastructure between Trump and Democrats the day before, which the president walked out of.

“Their heart is not into Infrastructure, lower drug prices, pre-existing conditions and our great Vets,” Trump tweeted. “All they are geared up to do, six committees, is squander time, day after day, trying to find anything which will be bad for me.”

Trump is objectively wrong; House Democrats haven’t been squandering time. In addition to their investigations, they’ve been passing legislation at a rapid clip. In all, the House has taken up 51 bills, resolutions, and suspensions since January — 49 of which they’ve passed. This includes a slate of bills to attempt to end the longest government shutdown in history, the result of a protracted fight between Trump and Congress over border wall funding.

Ironically, over the past two weeks, the House has passed bills to address most of the issues Trump mentioned in his tweet. They recently passed a bill to lower prescription drug prices, and another one to protect preexisting conditions. The House also passed nine bills on veterans issues this week alone, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi noted at her weekly press conference. On Thursday, Democrats tried to present Trump their infrastructure plan before he walked out of their meeting.

So if the House is passing all these bills, why does it seem like Congress isn’t getting anything done? Welcome to the reality of divided government in Washington. The vast majority of House Democrats’ agenda has hit a dead end in the Republican-controlled Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has dubbed himself the “grim reaper” of Democratic legislation. Pelosi has blasted the Senate leader for embracing this role, saying he’s working for special interests in Washington, rather than the people of the United States.

“The Senate is the graveyard where bills that pass in the Congress, that have bipartisan support in the country, go to die,” Pelosi said at a recent press conference.

Despite Trump’s declaration that it’s impossible for Democrats to “investigate and legislate at the same time,” House Democrats have been doing a lot of legislating over the past few months.

There’s a clear political strategy to McConnell not working with Pelosi on her agenda. He’s staring down 2020, where Senate Republicans are defending more seats than Democrats. Plus he has his own seat in Kentucky to worry about (though McConnell losing that is unlikely). No matter what, there’s little incentive for McConnell to hand Democrats any legislative wins.

That has lent itself to a sense of legislative paralysis on Capitol Hill. In the upper chamber, there’s a perception that the power of individual senators to filibuster bills or introduce legislation has diminished. It’s a dynamic that’s visible in the fact many high-profile potential Senate candidates like Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams have declined a Senate bid this year, opting instead to run for president or mull another gubernatorial bid.

Much of the media focus these days is on Democrats’ investigations, rather than their legislation, because that’s where the action is. Trump’s attempts to thwart these investigations have turned into what Pelosi and some of her committee chairs have dubbed a constitutional crisis. But even though Washington is consumed with investigations news, it doesn’t mean policy work isn’t happening. It just means it isn’t getting talked about as much.

House Democrats have passed a wide range of bills since they came to power in January, ranging from a sweeping anti-corruption and pro-democracy reform known as HR 1, to bills to save net neutrality, establish background checks for guns, and put the United States back in the Paris Climate Accord.

They have also put a large emphasis on health care, a defining issue of the 2018 election after Trump and Senate Republicans attempted to pass a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Democrats have focused on bills to lower prescription drug costs, protect preexisting conditions, and condemning the Trump administration’s legal battle to strike down the ACA in the courts.

Much of this agenda is sitting in the Senate. The few things House Democrats and Senate Republicans have agreed on: disaster relief aid, reopening the government after the shutdown, the resolution to end US involvement in the Yemen war, a bill to protect public lands, and a resolution disapproving of Trump’s use of emergency powers.

But on major policy issues — like health care and infrastructure, or even bipartisan ones like net neutrality or the Equal Pay Act — Democrats’ bills are continuing to languish in the Senate.

Nilsen goes on to list 49 Measures the House has passed since January, 2019. Democrats have an Agenda!