So the early narrative on the 2022 midterm elections goes something like this: The Republicans, riding winds of opposition to socialism via big spending bills and carrying weapons loaded with the powder of culture wars du jour, win back control of both Houses of Congress. It’s not even close. The final two years of the Biden Administration’s policy agenda? Toast. His judicial appointments? On ice.
And, frankly, that’s typically what happens. The president’s party, no matter how well it performs, no matter if it delivers on its campaign promises, it loses congressional seats, though not always majority control. But given the thin margins the Democrats own right now in each chamber? Yeah, that could happen. Probably will.
Unless voters remember.
In the last presidential election season, beset by a coronavirus that was keeping most of us at home, isolated, alone and just a few steps too close to crazy, and, speaking of which, a president who was paying little attention to the rule of law, tweeting one outrageous narrative after another multiple times a day while thousands upon thousands of Americans were falling ill to and dying from this hideous disease, an exhausted American public voted for a return to normal.
And they saw that in Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate, not President Trump, the incumbent.
During the campaign that fall, Biden promised to work across the aisle to win bipartisan support for big important bills.
Well, guess what? He just did that, in spades, with a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, with $6 billion coming to West Virginia.
Maybe folks will remember.
He also delivered on a promise to respond in a big way to what the pandemic was doing to the U.S. economy and fellow citizens who were scratching to get by even before the virus started wiping out jobs by the millions.
What he did was propose The American Rescue Plan.
It would spend approximately $160 billion on national vaccination program and Covid response and another $130 billion to safely reopen schools.
It would send out $1,400 checks per person in relief payments and extend unemployment benefits for six months.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits was increased by 15 percent and the Child Tax Credit was hiked from $2,000 to $3,000 per child over the age of 6 and $3,600 per child under the age of 6.
The Biden bill increased the Earned Income Tax Credit and expanded childcare assistance, providing an additional tax credit for childcare costs.
The bill also provided states with $1 billion to extend Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
Maybe you remember, and maybe the Dems will remind you in the coming year, that no Republican House or Senate member – not a one – supported the bill.
Maybe Dems will remind folks that job gains under Biden have been strong with employers hiring back millions of workers they let go during last year’s sharp downturn. There have been 4.8 million jobs gained, in fact, under Biden, and the American economy is showing renewed signs of life.
The Labor Department reported this past Friday that payrolls in October jumped by 531,000 with the gains coming from a variety of fields, led by restaurants and bars, as well as factories, offices and warehouses.
Maybe folks will remember that.
I suspect that what they will remember, during an election year, if government is making their lives less stressful, on all counts.
If this next piece of legislation, with a $1.85 trillion price tag, passes, folks may remember. It is designed to mend a fraying social safety net and to help families with daycare and preschool costs. It is seen a boon to the middle class and to those who care about fighting climate change.
It is all worth remembering. And I’m guessing Dems will want to make sure you do not forget.
J. Damon Cain is editor of The Register-Herald