Now comes the hard part. The COVID relief bill, in retrospect, was the easy part, a preseason scrimmage against the jayvee team. The Republicans were confused and defensive, and ultimately, almost no Democrat was going to walk away from the new Democratic president’s very first initiative (in the end, one did, Jared Golden of Maine, and we’ll see how that works out for him in 2022).
But the infrastructure bill Joe Biden unveiled as part of his “Build Back Better” agenda is going to constitute a considerably steeper hill. The Republicans will gather themselves and be much more cut-throat in opposition. Why? Because this infrastructure bill contains something the first bill didn’t, something that will turn this into war: a tax increase.
That seriously raises the stakes. It’s only an increase, or two kinds of increases, on corporations. But that’s enough. The last time any significant number of congressional Republicans supported a tax increase was, wait for it, 31 years ago. So none of them will vote for this, and any thought to the contrary is a fantasy. But if Biden can keep the Democrats together and ram this package, tax increases included, through, then yes, we can start talking about paradigm change.