Democrats cannot ignore these realities and continue traveling down a failed road which will only lead to disaster.
Now is the time for a major course correction. Now is the time for Senate Democrats to put legislation on the floor that addresses the needs of working families and challenge Republicans to vote against these important and popular initiatives. Now is the time to rally the American people around an agenda that works for all, not just the 1%.
The good news is that the House and an overwhelming majority of the Senate Democratic Caucus — as many as 48 out of 50 members — are prepared to pass strong and popular legislation that addresses the long-neglected needs of the working class. At a time when the top 1% is doing phenomenally well, we are ready to reform our regressive tax system and demand that the very rich and large corporations pay their fair share of taxes.
We want to take on the greed of the pharmaceutical industry and substantially lower prescription drug prices, expand Medicare to cover hearing, dental and vision, address the crisis of childhood poverty and a dysfunctional child care system, improve the quality of home health care, build the affordable housing we desperately need and create millions of good jobs by combating the existential threat of climate change.
The bad news is that two members of the Senate Democratic Caucus, Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, have withheld their support. For six months, President Biden and many of us have engaged in endless negotiations with these senators. These never-ending conversations, which have gone nowhere, must end. The time for voting must begin.
If, however, we cannot pass a comprehensive piece of legislation, we should then divide it up into separate bills and members of the Senate should have to vote on the very popular agenda that we are fighting for.
To my mind, in a democratic society, constituents have a right to know how their senators vote on some of the most important issues facing the country.
If Manchin, Sinema and Senate Republicans want to sink the Build Back Better package and then go on vote against individual bills that do exactly what the American people want: lowering prescription drug costs, demanding the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes, expanding Medicare, improving home healthcare, extending the Child Tax Credit, building affordable housing, addressing the crisis of childhood poverty, making a wildly expensive child care system affordable and combating climate change, they should have that opportunity. And then they can go home and try to explain their votes to their constituents. That’s what democracy is supposed to be about.
Democrats will not win in 2022 with a demoralized base. There must be energy and excitement. Today, in these difficult times, the American people want to know that their elected officials have the courage to take on the powerful special interests and fight for their needs.
And, when we do that, the fundamental differences between the two parties will become crystal clear. That’s how you win elections.