The Coverage of Build Back Better’s Failure Is Focused on the Wrong Culprits

EDITOR’S NOTE:Every week we post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column on Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.

Political suicide is painful to watch. This is especially true now as the Democrats seem intent on losing to a cowardly Republican party that is trying to systematically undermine American democracy. President Biden had both his Build Back Better bill as well the electoral reform bills up next year, but he still doesn’t have the votes for either. Failure to deliver harms working Americans, has disastrous effects on our democracy, and is ruinous for the Democrats’ prospects in the 2022 election.

As with all debacles, the blame is plentiful – but much of the media narrative has focused on the wrong culprits. This is not a case of “democratic disorder”. Democratic lawmakers are more united than ever. The problem is that the Democrats have no margin for error and face republican blockades. GOP senators won’t even stop tampering with the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which once enjoyed overwhelming bipartisan support. Not a single Republican Senator has voted for the American bailout amid the pandemic. Nobody supports an increase in taxes on the rich and the corporations.

A 50-50 split in the Senate means that every single Senator can thwart the bill. And that is what Senator Joe Manchin III (DW.Va.) and, to a lesser extent, Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) Did. The issue is not “Democrats in a mess” – it is an unusual circumstance in which less than 5 percent of the entire group can still ruin things for everyone else.

Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.


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