Progress is a double-edged sword. To some, progress represents opportunity and hope. But others feel differently. “There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks,” Bobby Kennedy once said. “They fear the future, mistrust the present, and invoke the security of a comfortable past which, in fact, never existed.”
Progress toward a revitalized America following four years of Donald Trump’s mismanagement is what Joe Biden promised almost 1,000 days ago in his inaugural speech. He has delivered. Beginning with lower healthcare and drug costs and continuing with new laws to fight climate change, rebuild our infrastructure, improve gun safety, and invest in the future of American workers, Biden and his congressional allies have done more to promote improvements in communities across the nation than any other president outside FDR and LBJ.
With its focus on green energy, semiconductor manufacturing and infrastructure, what the president is calling “Bidenomics” means new opportunities and sustained economic growth will benefit workers from the Rust Belt to the Sun Belt. With $16 billion in new federal funds, North Carolina has benefited from Bidenomics and will be a critical player in the revitalization of America’s ongoing economic recovery.
There’s more good news, also on the economic front. Inflation, which has dogged the U.S. for the past two years, may also be abating. Earlier this month, the government reported the rate of inflation has dropped to its lowest level since March, 2021. In addition, the growth of real wages has outpaced the rise in inflation, and consumer confidence is higher than at any point in the past two years.
All this good news is going to make it difficult for MAGA Republicans to continue maintaining Democrats are ignoring the needs of working class Americans. But they’ll try. They also want to reduce or eliminate the benefits of Bidenomics.
Already, House Republicans in Washington have introduced legislation slashing funds for the bipartisan infrastructure law — only months after Congress voted for the law to repair bridges, highways, railroads, electric grids and waterpipes. Also in the works are measures to cut funding for federal nutrition programs, including SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants, and Children, and The Emergency Food Assistance Program. There will be more.
Meanwhile, the Republicans who run the North Carolina General Assembly are locked in an intramural debate — behind closed doors and without Democrat input — over the state budget. Normally, the budget is approved by the end of June, in time for the beginning of the new fiscal year on July 1. But almost a month later, there has been little progress, and the legislature is now in recess until August 7.
The delay is troubling to Democratic legislators and Gov. Roy Cooper, because Medicaid expansion to about 600,000 North Carolina residents can’t take effect until the new budget is approved. Efforts by the governor to bring legislators back to Raleigh haven’t been successful so far, and the Republican majority seems content to let final approval slide indefinitely.
Equally troubling is the MAGA GOP’s effort to assert more control over the state’s voting process. Bills nearing approval in Raleigh would consolidate in the legislature the way membership of state and local boards of election are determined and make it harder for citizens to vote by mail. The governor has vetoed similar measures in the past, and he will veto the current versions. But this time, the legislature can override the governor, likely leading to lawsuits.
In spite of President Biden’s call for unity in the name of progress, as well as his efforts to bring both sides of the political spectrum to the negotiating table, the nation remains divided. That hasn’t prevented the president from getting genuinely productive new laws approved. But the MAGA conservative majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and the GOP majority in Raleigh is doing everything in their power to stymie progress in our state and across the country.
There will be retribution, beginning in the 2024 election.