We've discovered a Lancelot!
It's been six minutes,
Twice a boiled egg’s limit--
What's stalling our healthy and wealthy Camelot?
In 1993, while once again watching a new president’s popularity plunge, I was inspired to write some light-hearted stanzas. Somehow, watching Biden being criticized by left and right today, I’m not amused.
Biden is working to restore the middle class. We grew up in post-World War II America where the top income tax bracket was 91% for individuals and 50% for corporations. We had money to invest in interstate highways, airports, research, and highways. Small businesses thrived, and unions represented 35% of the workers.
The top tax bracket today is 27%--and less on stock gains. According to political commentator Thom Hartmann, more than $50 trillion in wealth has been transferred from the bottom 90% to the upper 1%. Many of that bottom 90% seek someone to blame–and it’s often anyone different than themselves.
Americans were told that big business would lead to innovation and opportunity. Instead we’re seeing monopolies choke out competition and push up prices.
One plant manufacturing baby formula is contaminated by bacteria, and we suffer a nationwide shortage. Allies of the Ukraine block Russian oil, and the handful of oil giants raise their prices and rack up $40 billion in profits in the first quarter. That’s the result of 40 years of concentrating power upward.
Meanwhile, Biden keeps plugging away. Congress doesn’t like this bill? Let's try this one. We can’t get support for that? Well, maybe we can get this done.
Biden managed to get free vaccines to 200 million Americans. His American Rescue Act has cut child poverty in half. Outstanding growth in the number of jobs have driven wages up after years of stagnation.
But the President is facing a Republican leadership committed to seeing that the President’s agenda fails, no matter how much the nation needs a program.
Last week Republicans tried to defeat the CHIPS bill and succeeded in defeating the PACT one.
The CHIPS Act of 2022 appropriates money to increase the number of semiconductors (think Micron) manufactured in the U.S. and to support development in computers and artificial intelligence. There’s some research in ocean acidification and carbon sequestration, both important in dealing with climate change, but it’s basically a big-business-and-jobs bill that Republicans usually support.
The bill passed the Senate 64-33. Then West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin announced agreement with an upcoming Democratic bill that is possibly filibuster-free through budget reconciliation; the Inflation Reduction Act is just one vote short of possible passage in the Senate.
Republican leaders then decided to oppose the CHIPS Act–no changes in the act or the nation’s need for semiconductors.
CHIPS did pass the House, 243-187, with 24 Republican votes.
Soon after, Republican senators voted down PACT, a bill to extend the types of lung ailments among veterans that VA medical facilities would accept as service injuries. Three weeks earlier the Senate had passed the bill, 84-14, but when the reconciliation version came up for a vote, 30 Senate Republicans changed their vote to no. The bill failed 55-42. (Idaho’s senators voted against the bill both times. Our representatives also voted no.)
Now veterans make up about 11% of the U.S. population–and they are very popular with most of the rest.
Congress members will soon take their August break to work in their districts. It might be a good time to ask your senators and representative just why they voted against veterans’ medical care. (See home offices at https://legislature.idaho.gov/legislators/congressional-delegation/.)
The Senate can vote again.