Democrats Are Learning Fast Why Being in Power Can Suck 1

It sounds so easy: Kamala Harris just has to ignore the parliamentarian’s ruling that the minimum wage increase doesn’t belong in the COVID relief bill, and just like that, the minimum wage increase happens. So why don’t these feckless Senate Democrats—and the Senate takes up the bill this week—just do it?

Because it isn’t that easy. Legislating isn’t easy. It’s really hard and slow and tedious. But what about Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson, you ask? They were bold, not like these timid corporate ninnies today! Bullshit. Roosevelt and Johnson had Democratic majorities that don’t exist now and will never exist again. And even they made loads of compromises.

I want a $15 minimum wage—at least. I want a huge green jobs bill. I want much higher taxes on the rich. I also want the Senate to do away with or at least radically change the filibuster, as I’ve been writing for years. And so on and so on. And progressives in Congress are right to push hard for these things. But it’s important not to be under any illusion that any of these things are easy. These things are hard. The Senate is a basically reactionary institution. Progress will be piecemeal. The odds of ultimate victory will actually be stronger if everyone understands this.