As I watched President Joe Biden sign his “bipartisan” infrastructure bill, surrounded mostly by Democratic members of Congress and the baker’s dozen members of the Trump Political Party who decided not to follow orders from him and voted for the bill, I said to myself, “That’s not how the Donald would have done it.”
If this was a bill-signing during the Trump regime, every member of the executive branch, along with every current member of Trump Party in the House and Senate, would have been summoned to the front lawn of the White House to witness the momentous occasion and sing Trump’s praises for delivering this bill for the American people.
Except for West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and Arizona’s Kristen Sinema, there would be no Democrats anywhere in sight. (More on them later.)
Thus was my problem with the optics of how Biden handled the bill-signing. If I was Biden’s adviser for optics and presentation, this is how the signing would have gone down.
First, I would have the president open, saying something like, “About once a month for four years, the previous president and his administration would announce that it was infrastructure week.
“Guess what? With the signing of this bill, thanks to the people gathered around me, going forward from the time the ink dries on this document, infrastructure week, month and year is now here.”
Next, I’d have him say that it was shameful that more members of Congress didn’t vote for this bill, because the good that will come from this legislation will benefit all Americans in some capacity.
Then I’d have him point to images of a bunch of infrastructure projects that are going to be done in states and districts represented by several prominent Trump supporters, call them out by name and say here’s what your representative/senator voted against.
I’d also have him mention that he wanted a bill that was grander and did more things, but to get what he got, there had to be cuts and compromises, and not all the compromises were with politicians on the other side of the aisle.
And I’d have him mention the names of the alleged Democrats (insert Sinema and Manchin here) with whom compromises were made.
When it came to time take questions from reporters, I’d tell him that every chance he got, to repeat much of what he said after signing the bill and throw in all the positive things that has occurred since he took office.
This would include the number of poor people and children who have been pulled above the poverty line, thanks to the Child Tax Credit and the expanded EBT program that were part of the $1.9 trillion pandemic aid law enacted earlier this year; and the steadily improving economy and shrinking unemployment numbers.
I’d advise him, without taking a breath, to then launch into a Trump-style rant about the things in the Build Back Better Plan that will improve the lives of even more Americans.
One of the ongoing problems I have with the current group of Democratic politicians, especially those in leadership and the administration, is that, unlike Trump and members of his party, Democrats have a problem with blowing their own horn.
As I’ve heard more than a few people say, Republicans will scream, shout and beat their chests even when they have nothing constructive or productive about which to scream and shout or beat.
And they shout and scream more when talking about things that will divide us more than unite us — see current cultural issues like critical race theory, transgender children and vaccine mandates.
Democrats, on the other hand, seem to believe that just making policies that positively impact the lives of most Americans speaks for itself, and screaming and shouting about it is unnecessary.
Also, Democrats have a hard time explaining their policies to the masses who will benefit from them and using language they understand.
Take the Build Back Better Plan. When Republicans and other critics of the plan talk about it, they just throw the number out the $2 trillion we are adding to the debt. Democrats take the bait, cower and get defensive, allowing them to shape the narrative about it.
Here’s how I’d like to see Democrats start talking about the Build Back Better Plan and every other thing they would like to do:
“We’re talking about programs that will improve the lives of Americans, and you can’t put a price tag on that. But if you want to, we are talking about spending that much money over a 10-year period.
“Divide that $2.2 trillion or even the original $3.5 trillion by 10; that’s $220 billion or $350 billion a year.
“We have an economy that will generate somewhere between $22 and $24 trillion this year, and it grows exponentially. That works out to less than 2 percent of our national gross domestic product (GDP) and will be even less in 10 years.”
For those whose heads this goes over, give them a definition of GDP. Not the one in Websters; give them one to which they can relate. Tell them GDP is what all the goods and services we produce in this country in a year are worth.
And remind them of the stimulus money most of us have gotten during this pandemic. Where do you think that came from and do you know anyone who gave it back?
Then I’d have them close by mentioning what the bill will do: strengthen the federal safety net — enhance support for children and families with childcare subsidies and universal prekindergarten, expanding health coverage for the poor, the uninsured, children and seniors, increasing housing assistance — and address climate change.
The last words out of Democrats mouths would be this: “Ask your congressperson or senator why they are against these things?”
From the Bottom where I see things, Democrats have to start making Trump Party people play defense.
Go, Big Red! Play some offense and defense. I’d love to have the option of traveling across-state again next week!
Hi, Momma Lois.
TONY KENDALL of Hazel is a writer, teacher, actor, playwright and sports fanatic. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.