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Steny Hoyer

U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) speaks at a press event following the House of Representatives vote on H.R. 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, at the U.S. Capitol on August 24, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Pelosi and Hoyer to Progressives: Just Pretend Democrats Are Winning (Even If Corporate Lobbyists Are)

"If we don't act like we are winning, the American people won't believe it either," advised House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.

Jon Queally

Democratic leadership advised House progressives behind closed doors Monday night that they better start acting like they are getting a major win even if the reality is that President Joe Biden's signature domestic infrastructure plan seems on the verge of "being gutted beyond recognition" thanks to an aggressive assault by corporate lobbyists and the obstructionism of a small handful of right-wing lawmakers within the party.

"If we don't act like we are winning, the American people won't believe it either," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told Democrats during a private meeting, according to Politico.

"Embrace this," said House Speaker Pelosi. "And have a narrative of success."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also suggested that spinning the current situation—one in which an initial $6 trillion ambition to invest in the nation's crumbling physical infrastructure and care economy over ten years has reportedly been reduced by relentless corporate pressure down to something between $1.5 and $2 trillion—will be necessary.

After Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.)—both in their own way but also with the backing of huge sums of campaign donations from Wall Street, Big Pharma, the right-wing Koch network, and the fossil fuel industry—have stood against the ambitions and popular policies embraced by the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), Pelosi suggested to her members Monday that it was time to admit that the corporate influence campaign has won the game.

"Embrace this," Pelosi reportedly said during the same closed-door meeting. "And have a narrative of success."

So what is there to embrace? And what is the new vision of "success" that Democrats should be touting—especially progressives in the 95-member CPC who have so far been heralded for holding the line against the internal sabotage by Manchin, Sinema, and other corporate Democrats?

As of this writing, the hope for 12 weeks of paid family leave has dwindled to just four weeks—or perhaps none at all. The promise of Medicare expansion is in serious doubt, with dental on the chopping block, an industry-friendly voucher now replacing full coverage on hearing and eye care (though Manchin opposes even this industry giveaway), and the drug-pricing portion possibly out entirely. The expanded childhood tax credit is now just one year, as opposed to ten or five or even three. Tuition-free community college is likely out. Universal pre-K and childcare remains, but only as a fraction and likely mean-tested into a worrying absurdity.

On climate, the Democrats' plan has been massacred by Manchin—a lawmaker who received over $400,000 from the fossil fuel industry over recent months and who thanks his personal fortune to investments in coal. Specifically, Manchin appears to have successfully stopped inclusion of the Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP), an omission which experts warn will make it now impossible for the U.S. to meets is international emission reduction obligations under the Paris climate agreement.

In August, when it still seemed like Democrats might be able to push something through equal to the ambition outlined by President Biden and bolstered by progressive like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and other progressive members of Congress, the Washington Post was among those who reported that "Corporate America" was launching a "massive lobbying blitz to kill key parts" of the economic recovery plan focused on lifting up the nation's working families devastated by the pandemic and years of neglect.

"The emerging opposition appears to be vast, spanning drug manufacturers, big banks, tech titans, major retailers and oil-and-gas giants," the Post reported at the time. "In recent weeks, top Washington organizations representing these and other industries have started strategizing behind the scenes, seeking to scuttle key elements in Democrats’ proposed overhaul to federal health care, education and safety net programs."

Over the ensuing weeks and months, that corporate investment to "blitz" lawmakers has clearly paid off.


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