“The idea is that these initiatives will fit into this legislation, and we can expand them,” said Senator Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland. “Take the child tax credit. This is something that has only been around for a few months now, is already making a huge difference and is extremely popular. “
Democrats have argued for months that Americans will adopt the safety net proposals and other provisions of the law once they understand what they get out of them. They say infighting between Democrats, attacks by Republicans and emphasis on procedural battles have obscured the popular aspects of the measure, explaining recent polls that have shown most Americans don’t know what there is in the package. Also obstructing the picture for voters, Democrats have yet to produce a final version of the legislation due to differences in cost and scope.
“I have long believed that when they see the changes and reforms that really matter to them in their kitchens and living rooms, it drastically changes the debate on DC,” said Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon and chairman of the finance committee. .
Republicans have also reaped the rewards of lawmakers’ reluctance to overturn popular policies initially put in place temporarily, such as Bush’s tax cuts in 2001 and 2003. These were ultimately extended despite deep Democratic resistance. and years of tax battles because enough members of Congress were reluctant to be accused of raising taxes.
Since they failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Republicans also realize that allowing Democrats to make safety net programs a reality, even for a relatively short period of time, will make it extremely difficult. and politically risky to let them die.
But the legislative dynamic will be different with safety net programs enacted for a defined period of time. In the case of the health care law, which was a permanent policy change, Republicans had to rally votes to repeal it and repeatedly failed. With the programs in the finance bill, if Congress did nothing, they would simply expire, leaving Democrats responsible for finding the votes to renew them.
One of the few social support programs to be repealed was the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act of 1988, at the end of the Reagan administration, with broad bipartisan support. It was repealed a year later, in a surprisingly rapid turnaround.