Will national Democrats, shocked by their repudiation in Virginia and even New Jersey, stop bickering, show some spine, and get President Biden's Build Back Better social safety net spending program through Congress?
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It was sickening to see House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) gloating today, predicting that his party could flip more than 60 House seats in the 2022 midterm elections.
“If you're a Democrat and President Biden won your seat by 16 points, you're in a competitive race next year. You are no longer safe,” McCarthy told reporters, adding that 70 Democratic seats will be "competitive".
"There's many that are going to lose their races based upon walking off a cliff from (Speaker) Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) pushing them,” he added.
“It's a wakeup call — and we'd better learn from it,” said Rep. Cheri Bustos (IL), former head of the Democrats’ campaign committee. “We've got exactly a year to go.”
In Virginia, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe was decisively defeated by Republican Glenn Youngkin, a businessman and political newcomer. McAuliffe had been the favorite, but Youngkin, endorsed by Donald Trump, won the election running away. Youngkin tried to play both ends against the middle, steering clear of Trump, but appealing to his base with such dog whistle issues as critical race theory.
Even before it was officially over, Trump’s political action committee released a statement on his behalf, thanking his “BASE for coming out in force” to support Youngkin. “Without you,” the statement added, “he would not have been close to winning.” Then, he sent a follow-up: “Thank you to the MAGA voters for turning out big!”
Then, in New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy barely defeated GOP challenger Jack Ciattarelli, although experts say a recount is inevitable.
DNC Chief's Brave Words
Meanwhile, Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison said after the Virginia race was called, that “Democrats across the country will not be deterred.”
“We will get right back to work,” he said. “As we say in South Carolina: while we breathe, we hope.
“Starting today and every single day over the next year, Democrats will remain laser focused on delivering for working families and making our case directly to each and every voter. We will not rest until the polls close next year and we know that Democrats have won the House, Senate, and governors’ mansions across the country to continue delivering hope and progress for the American people.”
Those are brave words, but unless Biden and the Democrats prove to the electorate that they can actually deliver on their promises, McCarthy's prediction could come true.
It could be no accident that today Pelosi essentially told Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) to shove it when she announced that four weeks of paid family leave, which Manchin opposes because of the cost, would be restored in the $1.75 trillion social safety net bill. The decision to scrap that provision, after bold election year promises, threatened to jeopardize Democrats' support among women and many progressives.
In addition, the bill will now include language to help reduce prescription drug prices, a compromise reached with Democratic lawmakers who had echoed drug industry claims that reduced profits would lead to a reduction in life-saving prescription drug research. The modified language will still lower prices on many expensive and popular medications, sources said.
After Pelosi's announcement about the paid family leave provision, Manchin said he still opposes it. "That's a challenge, very much of a challenge. And they know how I feel about that," he said.
If Manchin thinks finding the money to provide paid leave for families is a "problem," wait until he goes before voters in his poverty-stricken state and explains why he opposed helping them so they can take care of their kids while earning a living.
It's time for Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to stand up to Manchin and call his bluff.
If they learned anything from the New Jersey and Virginia elections, it's that voters have no patience with politicians who fail to deliver, and Donald Trump is waiting in the wings, ready to spin everything his way.
And once again, the gullible will believe unless Democrats start getting things done and begin to effectively make their case.
There is no time to lose.