So, it sucks that the minimum wage got cut out of the relief bill, and it sucks that there clearly aren’t (at least now) 50 votes in the Senate for $15. I still think a minimum wage bill will pass this Congress in some form, but obviously it would have been great to see it sail through from jump street. It also seemed kind of pointless to cut the benefits as the Senate did, but that’s what it took to get Joe Manchin’s vote. That’s the Senate.
But don’t let those setbacks do too much to diminish what a huge win this bill is for progressive politics. This is a lot of money—more, in some cases, than entities were even asking for. Conservatives pointed out, for example, that the bill is funneling to schools about five or six times what the Centers for Disease Control estimated would be needed to make the schools COVID-safe.
The right says that like it’s a terrible thing. I say, good! Because this is the real point of this bill. It’s not to fight the pandemic or reboot the economy, although it is both of those things. It’s to change the way we think about economics. Out with austerity and fretting about future deficits and trying to win over nonexistent Republican support. In with public investment and helping people. Yes, just say it: More free stuff!