President Joe Biden’s potentially greatest ally in 2022 may be Senator Joe Manchin.
As the new year approaches and the clock runs out on H.R. 5376, the ambitious social agenda of the Build Back Better Act dims like an old era giving way to the dawn of America’s next election year.
Notwithstanding Sunday’s Washington Post op-ed by Progressive Democrat Representative Pramila Jayapal, “Broken promises cannot deter the path to Build Back Better”, calling on President Biden to resort to Obama and Trump-style government by executive action, the political tenor of the coming year is already well down the road of both Democrats and Republicans realizing that 2022 is going to be about triangulating to find America’s center lest the mid-term election be lost.
Joe Manchin’s rejection of H.R. 5376 as presently constructed is, in my view, a legitimate reflection of the American people’s growing unease with the brashness of “woke” theory. Senator Manchin’s epiphany is that the national interest is already being overcome by events.
Jayapal is incorrect in her assertion that “Your word is all that matters” in government. Sorry, ma’am, but the national interest is all the matters in government. And the cold truth is that national interest shifts as the nation evolves.
My policy advice to President Biden is that he needs to take a careful look at the social agenda proposals of the 2021 version of H.R. 5376 and think about what “nice to haves,” using the term from the Obama era, need to be “thrown under the bus.”
It won’t make the progressives happy. But they might not be around in the same numbers after November 2022 anyway. President Biden will still be in the White House for another two years after America awakens from being woke. This is the national interest task ahead for his administration; regardless of what the activists may say.
For over a decade, we have seen extremist activism on both sides of the aisle, as well as anarchic elements intruding into the American debate, fueled by the power of the internet to create both constructive and destructive viral storms. It’s America. We debate everything loudly.
The process has splintered the American Dream to the point that ordinary Americans hardly recognize each other as neighbors or citizens. People see the breakdown imprisoning their very freedom to express themselves. Americans, regardless of party affiliation, are weary; and quite frankly, increasingly depressed, angry, and disillusioned.
Adding to the stress of politics, the promise of “two weeks to flatten the curve” by the government from the entirety of the federal, state, counties, and municipal “betters” to deal with COVID-19 compounds the weariness.
The fact of the matter is that the COVID-19 saga will enter its third year in 2022 with the latest Omicron variant apparently capable of infecting both vaccinated and unvaccinated Americans with equal aplomb.
We all know someone with three jabs faithfully done who’s tested positive. The last-minute cancellations of Christmas parties this season is a not so merry lump of coal stocking stuffer this year.
Adding to depression, people now discuss at what point the virus will evolve to be as ubiquitously infectious as the common cold.
More significantly, gaming theory analysts increasingly discuss what catastrophic failure modes may come, not from the virus itself, but from unforeseen effects of mankind’s attempts to control it. They worry about our hubris with the disease in much that same way political analysts worry about our hubris of political activism.
But other, more structural, consequence problems also manifest as the COVID-19 economic aid packages of 2020 and 2021 evaporate.
Among them, the lingering effects of up to three million US households whose homeowners are at risk of foreclosure threaten a man-made Katrina displacement that could, if allowed to play out in its worst-case scenario, dramatically affect those communities that benefitted from half a century of housing and urban development programs going all the way back to the Great Society and Civil Rights roots in the 1960s.
Beyond this, after a decade of artificial quantitative easing following the 2008 financial crisis, the US economy will begin to face inflation in 2022, creating new economic stresses. Market uncertainty is already high due to the global economy adapting to man-made agendas such as energy and climate policy. It’s exacerbated by COVID-19 compressing at least a decade of workforce evolution into a two-year shock to people and the economy.
Yes, theoretically, a free market will adapt to it, and many academics will swear so over Zoom meetings. But we aren’t following an entirely free-market economic model owing to both politically motivated government mandates and, even more dangerous, opinion-driven sustainability activism.
That’s a hyper-controlled economy that is driven by instinct instead of data. This hardly ever gets the answer right.
President Biden and Senator Manchin should build allies and take advantage of this opportunity to continue to work together to dissect all the pork loaded into the agenda of what will become the 2022 version of the Build Back Better package and insist on putting each special interest demand through proper rigor instead of blindly accepting the pile of Christmas tree ornaments the 2021 version H.R. 5376 was when all the leftovers from the Infrastructure Act were piled into it.
Just like all the ordinary people’s party plans were overcome by events this year due to Omicron, it’s time for the Washington establishment to do the same.
When 2022 comes, I’ll be extracting sections of the next version of the BBB bill and analyzing them from a national policy and special interest perspective, particularly with respect to how to suggest constructive amendment to the language that legislators can consider.
Whether you agree with the thoughts or not, I hope you’ll come along and participate in contacting your representatives and senators with your opinions in 2022; because that’s what we’re going to need.