House Legislative Accomplishments Are A Preview Of Upcoming Attractions
History has demonstrated that eras of progressive reform follow on the heels of a GOP meltdown. Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal reforms followed the Great Depression and the implosion of the Hoover presidency. Barry Goldwater’s disastrous candidacy led to a Democratic landslide in 1964 in which the Democrats ended up with 2–1 majorities in both houses of Congress. Lyndon Johnson followed up that triumph with the passage of Medicare, Medicaid, voting rights and other landmark reforms.
More recently, the Democratic landslides of 2006 and 2008 led to our most recent era of progressive reform. In 2009–10, President Obama signed into law the Ledbetter Act, the Recovery Act, Obama Care and Dodd-Frank. President Obama’s achievements led to a ten year economic expansion, the extension of health insurance coverage to 20 million additional Americans and pre-existing condition protections.
Unfortunately, we are now witnessing the greatest GOP meltdown since the Hoover Administration. Because of Trump’s mismanagement of the corona virus pandemic, over 4 million Americans have gotten sick, over 145,000 have died, 30 million Americans have lost their jobs and 5.4 million people have lost their insurance coverage. And there is no end in sight. It will only get worse.
Presumptive nominee Joe Biden has risen to the moment. Already, he is talking about pressing for the most sweeping reforms since Franklin Roosevelt. In a recent interview with Chris Cuomo on CNN, the former Vice President was asked about the utter catastrophe he will inherit next year from the former TV reality star. Biden’s answer was encouraging: “I think it’s going to, it may not dwarf, but eclipse what Franklin Delano Roosevelt faced,” he said. “We have an opportunity, Chris, to do so many things now to change some of the structural things that are wrong, some of the structural things we couldn’t get anyone’s attention on.”
While the country has been (justifiably) focused on the pandemic and economic collapse, the House Democratic majority has passed sweeping reforms that should provide a template on what to expect next year if the Democrats should run the table in November. Since the House Democrats were sworn in last year, they have passed bills on: election reform; LGBTQ equality protections; a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients; equal pay for women; gun background checks; climate change; strengthening the Affordable Care Act; the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act; a higher minimum wage, voting rights; reduced prescription costs and net neutrality.
Jeff Fortenberry, Don Bacon and Adrian Smith have voted against all of these reforms. Apparently, they are satisfied with the status quo and want four more years of the current failure and chaos. All three of them have endorsed Trump and have taken a pledge not to disagree with him.
Since the pandemic hit and the economy collapsed, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took the lead and passed the Cares Act with overwhelming bi-partisan support. The $2 trillion in stimulus has provided a lifeline for millions of Americans. Unfortunately, Fortenberry and Bacon failed to secure any stimulus funds for Omaha and Lincoln.
Since the passage of the Cares Act, House Democrats have passed the Heroes Act. According to CNBC, the Heroes Act would: “offer additional aid to jobless workers, send another direct payment to individuals, offer hazard pay to essential workers, give aid to state and local governments facing budget crunches and offer assistance to renters and homeowners as moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures start to expire.” Once again, Nebraska’s House delegation was worthless — all three of them voted against the Heroes Act.
Since the House passed this second stimulus package on May 15, the Senate has gone on two vacations and has simply failed to take it up. Mitch McConnell and the rest of the Congressional Republicans have operated on the belief — until very recently — that no additional stimulus was necessary.
Now that the number of corona virus cases are soaring and layoffs have resumed, the D.C. Republicans have begun to stir themselves to act. Unfortunately, the D.C. Republicans are deeply divided about what to do and have promised to come up with what will be a wholly inadequate proposal on July 26. Even then, McConnell says it will take several weeks to pass another stimulus bill. “Republicans are in complete disarray,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said. “Totally incompetent. Totally in disarray. Totally at war with one another.”
While the Republicans fiddle while the country burns, millions of Americans are on the brink of economic catastrophe. As early as July 25 in some states, the $600 unemployment compensation benefit will expire — subjecting 25 million Americans to a 60% pay cut. Moreover, eviction and foreclosure moratoriums are set to expire on July 30. Unless the D.C. Republicans act quickly, the economy could plunge into an economic depression.
We could be on the cusp of a new era of progressive reform in America. These eras usually follow a Republican crack up. Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson and Barack Obama all presided over eras of progressive reform. If we elect Joe Biden president along with a Democratic Congress, great things will happen. We will get the change this country needs so badly.
I would urge all Democrat to help Alisha Shelton, Kate Bolz and Kara Eastman. Our candidates will fight for our values — Nebraska values — in Washington. Now let’s get it done!