Louis L’Amour’s novel “Sitka” should be required reading by all who serve in elective office.
“He knew how to line up the votes, knew what the states and territories needed, and he knew that statecraft consists of a reconciling of viewpoints, and to be a superior statesman one must also be a superior politician. It was not enough to have vision, to have a program. It was not enough to be strong, sincere, honest. In a democracy, one also needed votes, and to put over a program one must find a way to win the votes of those with less vision and possibly even less loyalty to country.” (“Sitka,” page 320)
President Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan is a once-in-a-generation proposal that if passed has the potential to dramatically improve the lives of working people, retirees and families across the country, all paid for by rolling back the Trump tax cuts and increases on those earning over $400,000.
While U.S. Rep. Ed Case (D-Hawai‘i) is also maneuvering to delay passage and reduce the benefits being offered, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and U.S. Sen. Kristen Sinema (D-AZ) are the two biggest problems standing in the way of passing this historical legislation.
Politics 101: Find out what they want and give it to them. It’s time to cut a deal with Manchin and Sinema.
To those who say “no, we give them nothing” — relax, take a breath, and look at the bigger picture. Know also that karma has a way of taking care of things like this.
They want to win. So let them win. Just make sure we win too. The real winner will be people and the planet.
Use the fuzzy math government accountants and legislators are famous for. Reduce the number without really reducing the number. Drop it from $3.5 trillion to $2.9 trillion by reducing the term from 10 years to nine; delay or phase-in implementation. Bottom line is make the “top line” appear to drop below $3 trillion without actually reducing programs or benefits. Whatever, just maintain the benefits and reduce the big number slightly so the two senators can save face and look cool.
Then, allow them to look really cool and powerful by throwing some big-dog stuff to Arizona and West Virginia. Give them a freeway, an airport, a rail system, or maybe a football stadium. Name an aircraft carrier, battleship or destroyer for them.
And do it quickly. The longer it takes to cut the deal the less likely the deal will be cut. There are too many things on edge right now: health, labor, business, social and environmental. It’s as if multiple volcanos are ready to explode.
We need to close this deal now.
If the two Senate Democrats don’t want to play ball, then find two Senate Republicans who are hungry for fame and the history books. Cut a deal with them.
Seven Republican senators voted to convict and impeach Trump. There must be at least two of them who would love to have an aircraft carrier or nuclear submarine named for them, be known forever for their bi-partisan acumen, and bring home the largest slab of bacon ever to their state.
It’s time for President Joe Biden to play hardball. Each of these senators, Democrats and Republicans alike, just wanna win. They wanna look good back home, be in the history books, and get some big piece of floating metal named for them.
I say give it to them. Let them win, and at the same time give a hugely big win to the American people as well. But do it now, before something blows up, both literally and figuratively.
Gary Hooser is the former vice-chair of the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i, and served eight years in the state Senate, where he was majority leader. He also served for eight years on the Kaua‘i County Council, and was the former director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control. He serves in a volunteer capacity as board president of the Hawai‘i Alliance for Progressive Action and is executive director of the Pono Hawai‘i Initiative.