What’s being compromised?

In any policy fight, it’s never the priorities of the wealthy that are compromised—it’s working and middle-class Americans who are.

Sometimes, when watching Congress in action, I can’t decide whether to laugh, cry, or check myself into an insane asylum.

Not all lawmakers are political hacks, quacks, and corporate toadies, but that contingent does seem to dominate. Most infuriating is that while purporting to represent the people, Congress routinely does what the American majority does not want done—and fails to do what people do want.

Take a peek at the cuts Congress is making to Joe Biden’s landmark infrastructure proposals.

This is a monumental, long-overdue undertaking to reinvest in America’s underpinnings—everything from roads and broadband networks to child care and paid family leave. The package would deliver real, tangible benefits across our nation, especially for low- and middle-income families, so it is enormously popular.

Yet when the first half of the plan recently came to a vote in the House, Republicans turned it into a partisan mud wrestling show, loudly voting “NO” on such obvious needs as fixing decrepit bridges, providing clean tap water in every community, and opening pre-school education programs to all three- and four-year-olds.

Cynical Republican gamesmanship aside, even more infuriating is the clique of self-described “moderate” Democrats who pose as champions of workaday Americans but constantly scuttle public policies that would make their lives better.

For example, the GOP and corporate Democrats have jointly demanded a trillion dollar “compromise” in the second half of the plan.

What’s being compromised? Not the priorities of the wealthy, that’s for sure. Instead, it’s the long-postponed needs of everyday Americans, including home health care, free community college, affordable housing, wage hikes, environmental justice, etc.

The wealthy and their political enablers complain that America can’t afford such projects, even as they lobby against the modest tax increases on the wealthy and corporations that would finance them.

But more importantly, we aren’t ultimately talking about “projects”—we’re talking about people! And permitting politicos and lobbyists to leave them behind yet again would be an abominable moral failure.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also the editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown. Distributed by OtherWords.org.

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