There are reports this morning that Democrats are planning to punt some of the President’s BBB agenda into a 2022 reconciliation package. On its face that sounds awful. Big stuff gets harder to do, not easier, the closer you get to an election – especially one you think won’t go well. But this is actually a good thing. Or at least a necessary thing. It’s critical to get this legislative long march wrapped up, voted on and signed absolutely as soon as possible. I noted yesterday that I just don’t see a recognition of that urgency from the players on the Hill and the White House. Each day that goes by passage of any of the agenda gets less likely and the electoral consequences of this drawn out season of political impotence grows.
I had someone ask me yesterday: why don’t they get the urgency? I think there are two reasons. The first is that Capitol Hill is its own world, with its own rules, dynamics. It can feel self-contained, even though it is entirely the creature of public opinion and on-going elections. That’s one part. The bigger and very real part is that the best way to speed things along if you’re one of the players who has a vote is to give way. If you think it’s super important to get one particular program in the bill your best way of speeding things up is agreeing that your super important thing gets dropped. Everyone can see the importance of speed and yet not be willing to sacrifice what they think is super important. It’s a bit of a game theory nightmare.
I fear that some of the progressives – or really just advocates of a bigger bill – are not so much hanging tough in the negotiations as ignoring the reality of the situation: the bill is going to be substantially smaller than most Democrats wanted. That sucks. But facing that fact in 3 months won’t make it suck any less.
Figure out the best bad option quickly and move on.