With media coverage fixated on the Trump circus and on impeachment, voters have little sense that anything is being accomplished. But Trump’s insult of Democrats is a lie.
The reality is that House Democrats have been extraordinarily productive, passing nearly 400 bills by mid-November. About 275 of them have bipartisan support and are sitting on the desk of Republican leader McConnell, who will not allow debate or votes. The majority leader boasts that he is the “grim reaper” of House legislation. McConnell’s obstruction of President Barack Obama’s agenda was infamous; now, he is doubling down against measures passed by the Democratic House majority.
Republican politicians argue that Washington is dysfunctional — and then prove their case by making it so. This serves their ideological interests and rewards their special interest supporters. Consider, by contrast, that many House-passed bills would make a real difference in the lives of ordinary Americans.
The Raise the Wage Act, which the House passed in July, would lift the wages of nearly 40 million workers over the next few years, according to the Economic Policy Institute. The Protecting the Right to Organize Act, passed by the House just last week, would help level the playing field for workers in collective bargaining. At a time when CEO salaries are soaring while workers’ wages stagnate and “right to work” laws cripple organization efforts, these bills could dramatically affect people’s lives.
The Paycheck Fairness Act, passed last March, would help close the gender pay disparity, a change that is vital for the growing number of families who rely on women’s wages to make ends meet.
While the Trump administration continues trying to torpedo the Affordable Care Act in the courts, the Democratic-led House passed a bill that would independently require insurance companies to protect those with preexisting conditions. It also passed bipartisan legislation outlawing various tricks by which drug companies impede the distribution of less expensive generics.
To strengthen voters’ rights and election integrity, the House passed the For the People Act, which would curb the role of big money in politics, end partisan gerrymandering, enact automatic and same-day voter registration, bolster the Voting Rights Act and more. Not surprisingly, McConnell, whose Republican Party has sought to suppress voter access in states across the country, won’t let that come to a vote in the Senate.
For a more just America, the House passed bills extending civil rights protections to the LGBTQ community and providing “dreamers” with a path to citizenship. Again, no vote has been allowed in the Senate.
To counter Trump’s dereliction of duty on climate change, the House passed the Climate Action Now Act, essentially returning the United States to the Paris climate agreement after Trump announced our withdrawal.
Also passed was the Consumers First Act, strengthening the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and reversing Trump administration efforts to disembowel it amid big banks’ assaults.
Even when the Senate has acted, such as when Congress passed a joint resolution to end U.S. support of Saudi Arabia’s savaging of Yemen, Trump has thwarted forward motion, in this case vetoing the resolution.
The list can go on, but the Republican big lie is clear: It isn’t that the Democratic-led House has done nothing but that Trump, McConnell and other Republicans in the Senate have blocked almost everything. And they are proud of their obstruction.
During his State of the Union address, Trump talked about lowering costs of prescription drugs; the House-passed H.R. 3 would do just that. Trump called for turning to infrastructure — but recall that the president is the person who blew up the meeting with Democratic leaders that was convened to move on infrastructure. Even as the House passed its articles of impeachment, it also passed Trump’s retooled NAFTA trade accord with Mexico and Canada — after insisting on changes that would strengthen the position of workers and cut special privileges given to drug companies.
The theory of the big lie is simple: Most people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one. Repeat a lie frequently, and sooner or later people assume it is true. Trump has proved to be a master of the purposeful falsehood.
Truth is the antidote to the conundrum of the big lie. That’s why freedom of the press is essential. An independent media can puncture big lies rather than repeat them. This function should not be relegated to “fact check” columns. It is a central responsibility of a free press. Surely it is long past time to call out McConnell and Trump on their preposterous claims about Democrats.