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In chess, a gambit is when a player sacrifices a piece, usually a pawn, at the beginning of a game in order to gain a greater competitive advantage. We can now say that the 13 Republicans who voted to pass the Infrastructure Bill in early November have made one of the most effective political moves of recent times.
When Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va., confirmed on Sunday that he was casting a no-vote on the gigantic Build Back Better spending bonanza that is essentially killing it, it was a justification for the much-pilloried moderate GOP- Voices for the infrastructure.
There was a lot to complain about with the infrastructure design, from charging stations to tree justice, but for all of its flaws, there was also a lot of hard infrastructure in the law. Nineteen Republicans voted for it in the Senate, and it was widespread among the electorate. In other words, by making concessions to the Infrastructure Act, you sacrificed like giving a pledge.
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Build Back Better, on the other hand, was the queen of Biden’s domestic agenda, a bill so far-reaching that it threatened to invade every corner of the chessboard of American life. And how did the Republicans of the House overthrow that queen? Especially by decoupling the infrastructure calculation from Build Back Better.
Let’s not forget that during the summer and fall, progressive House Democrats, led by the Squad, were in charge of passing the Manchin Infrastructure Bill and Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s baby. They demanded that the bills be passed together. It looked as if we were certainly heading towards a compromise that would bypass the infrastructure and also large parts of the social spending package.
It’s hard to overestimate which bullet the nation has just dodged with the demise of Build Back Better.
But when the infrastructure was passed with GOP votes, the progressives of the House of Representatives were left out in the rain. Their leverage evaporated instantly. And yet, at least to hear spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi. D-Calif. and President Joe Biden speaking, it seemed likely that a compromise would arise on Build Back Better. The total victory Republicans could hope for is that the president’s domestic agenda has crumbled to dust.
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In the election, the baker’s dozen alleged GOP “traitors” who flanked the squad and ate their lunch are all in a better position to keep their mostly purple wards in 2022. A typical race is in Staten Island and Brooklyn, where the Republicans are. Nicole Malliotakis faces a rematch against former Congressman Max Rose. A no to infrastructure would have been hammered by Rose as the bill brings a lot of money and jobs to the district. That line of scrimmage is gone now.
It’s hard to overestimate which bullet the nation has just dodged with the demise of Build Back Better. As Manchin points out, inflation concerns alone were any reason to kill them. But let’s be clear, had infrastructure and the social spending leviathan stayed coupled, there is every reason to believe that large parts of Build Back Better would have survived.
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The game of chess is not over yet. But looking at the board, less than a year after halftime, the GOP leadership has enough material to compete almost anywhere. Because of this, you see Kevin McCarthy, Leader of the House of Representatives Minority, R-Calif., Already placing advertisements for a Republican Congress in the deep blue New York media market.
With all the storms and stresses and threats with primaries when the 13 Republicans crossed the aisle in November, it worked out better than the Republicans could rightly expect. With a steady hand leading the Republican sections and a willingness by those sections to work in unity, the Democrats will be in good shape and well on their way to becoming a steep Congressional minority.
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