MARCH 12, 2021
Kuttner on TAP
A Watershed Moment
Maybe once or twice in a century, you can feel the ground shifting. This is surely one of those moments.

After yesterday, Donald Trump looms a lot smaller, and so does mainstream political conservatism. I’ve never seen the Wall Street Journal editorial page so despondent.

The great historian of populism, Lawrence Goodwyn, wrote of the transformational potential when ordinary people grasp that things don’t have to be the way they are.

With the passage of the American Rescue Plan, people who voted for Donald Trump grasped that the government, under a Democratic president, is sending each of their kids at least $3,000 a year, paying for their health coverage if they lose their jobs, topping up their unemployment compensation, keeping their local governments from cutting services, and a great deal more.

Government, in friendly hands, just might be on the side of the people—in a way that is simple, direct, and not filtered through private profiteers. Imagine that. Reprogram some tax breaks for the very rich that do nothing for anyone else, and government might deliver even more.

All of this public outlay will boost the economy so much that conservatives, who once emphasized the need for fiscal discipline and business tax breaks, are now warning that direct government help to regular people might cause the economy to grow too fast. What a nice problem to have.

Activist government has been demonized for more than a generation. A great many working-class people, who saw government under both parties getting into bed with elites rather than providing practical help, joined in the demonizing. Now, they just may give government and the Democrats a second look.

The tragedy is that this political recipe—government should help ordinary people big-time—has been lying there for half a century, ignored by New Democrats, and Third Way Democrats, and Wall Street Democrats, and budget-balance Democrats, and kindred too-clever-by-half Democrats.

This elite disdain got Trump elected; and damn near killed American democracy permanently, had Trump been re-elected.

But now the right is reeling and progressivism is on the march. All it took was a pandemic and a 78-year-old warhorse who decided that his ticket to greatness is to lead the Democratic Party back to Roosevelt.

Better late than never, and bravo! But what a wasted half-century.

Altercation: Media Blaming BIDEN for Dearth (or Death) of Bipartisanship?
A little acknowledgment of Republicans’ intransigence and criminality would be welcome. BY ERIC ALTERMAN
Federalize It, Joe Biden
The American Rescue Plan isn’t complete until welfare program administration is taken back from the states. BY ALEXANDER SAMMON
The One Union Biden Has Not Supported
Trump decertified the immigration judges’ union. If Biden doesn’t reverse this decision, it could have big implications for federal employee unions. BY MARCIA BROWN
Why the Usual Suspects Can’t Save the Planet
To achieve global climate justice and arrest climate change, small-scale food producers, Indigenous people, and workers must be at the table. BY NIKHIL AZIZ & SHALMALI GUTTAL
First 100: The Republican Quandary on the American Rescue Plan
Plus: direct payments can be garnished by debt collectors, thanks to the budget reconciliation process. BY DAVID DAYEN

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