Fall Magazine - Page 9

high priority for the ruling party – the leadership does not want to spend precious political capital on second or third-tier priorities .
Aside from the one major “ reform bill ” each president is entitled to , the only other kind of sweeping legislation that gets passed these days seems to be “ emergency rescue spending .” It seems that every few years the country is confronted by a new economic crisis which must be mitigated by massive spending and aggressive monetary manipulation by the Federal Reserve . The $ 800 billion Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 was passed on bipartisan lines after George Bush pushed Congress to pass it . The $ 831 ARRA passed in 2009 in response to the Great Recession – and passed the filibuster in the Senate only with the aid of three critical Republican votes ( from Olympia Snowe , Susan Collins , and then-still-Republican Arlen Specter ). The COVID-19 relief acts passed on a bipartisan vote in early 2020 ( topped off by the $ 2 trillion dollar CARES Act ). All of these passed because of political necessity . The governments of the time needed to be seen doing something to alleviate the economic turmoil of the day . Although the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 ( another $ 2 trillion dollar spending bill ) passed without any real bipartisan support , it too was a “ rescue ” spending bill aimed at demonstrating action against an ongoing crisis .
One last example supports the “ political necessity drives lawmaking ” argument : the one item of major legislation passed along bipartisan lines in recent years . This was the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of last year . The IIJA was a thoroughly un-exciting bill passed with strong bipartisan support to address a topic that was not the core of either party ’ s electoral platform . While President Biden did campaign on a promise to fix America ’ s crumbling infrastructure , this is hardly a wedge-issue for Americans . Recall that Donald Trump also made major campaign promises surrounding infrastructure investment . No , infrastructure investment passed because America ’ s bridges were falling apart , and it was time for Congress and the Administration to do something substantial about the issue . In other words , it needed to happen .
However , although infrastructure was a focus of Biden ’ s campaign , IIJA may not have been enough of a “ major reform bill ” to satisfy the president or his constituents . Perhaps President Biden felt that he had not had a chance to make his mark in the same way as his predecessor Obama had – we do know that Biden was pushing hard for passage of major social-issues legislation in the form of his Build Back Better bill . And beyond that , it ’ s difficult to appease a base that cares most deeply about issues of race relations and environmental policy with a bill that focuses on fixing American railroads . The Biden Administration still had a few months left before the midterms and nothing really substantial passed to rally support from the Democratic base . In other words – they needed to do something else . So that brings us to the latest bill to pass the president ’ s desk – the Inflation Reduction Act .
Why did the IRA move so quickly from inception to passage ? Why is a climate change bill disguised as “ inflation reduction ?” The explanation of political necessity answers both of these questions . For months , Senator Joe Manchin ( D-WV ) was an obstacle to Democrats ’ policy priorities . He halted work on the Build Back Better legislation several times , starting and stopping negotiations over various parts of the bill . In mid-July , the political trade press and mainstream media reported that Manchin had yet again put a stop to the Democrats policy agenda , citing inflation concerns as Manchin ’ s reason for
fall 2022 customized logistics & delivery Magazine 9