For Lack Of An Explanation

For Lack Of An Explanation


Leonard Zwelling

It is now clear that President Biden’s proposed social omnibus spending bill that passed the House along partisan lines is unlikely to be passed by the Senate even using the rules of reconciliation requiring just 50 votes. That’s because West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin is not going to vote for the bill. He informed a Fox News audience of this.

In the above opinion piece from The New York Times on December 21 Nobel laureate Paul Krugman bemoans the fact that the Build Back Better Bill is likely to go down because as he says its non-passage would:

“Condemn millions of American children to poor health and low earnings in adulthood—because that’s what growing up in poverty does.”

“Condemn millions more to inadequate medical care and financial ruin if they got ill, because that’s what happens when people lack adequate health insurance.”

“Condemn hundreds of thousands…to unnecessary illness and premature death from air pollution.”

He’s right, but that’s not my point today.

It is also true that millions of Americans have not received any vaccination against Covid and many eligible for a booster have not availed themselves of that opportunity for extra protection.

My point is the obvious question. Why are Congress and many Americans against doing things that are good for us collectively and surely as individuals?

The glib liberal answer is that people are just stupid. But let’s for a moment say that people really aren’t stupid at all, but haven’t been informed why these things might be good for us as a country and as individuals. The leadership on these issues has been sorely lacking and it is also likely that many aspects of the Build Back Better Bill are not needed at all.

The Build Back Better Bill has been touted by the progressive left as an important part of their vision for America. Many think that vision is socialism and, after all, that’s tax payer money paying for all of the things proposed in the bill. The points Krugman makes may be right, but who has sat down with the American people and explained all of that? No one. Instead, we get Bernie Sanders insisting this must be passed and then outraged that people all over the country are not flocking to his side of the aisle supporting more government spending. The left is outraged at their fellow congresspersons’ lack of compassion. The right is outraged that the BBBB looks like a socialist giveaway to them. No one is slowly explaining what good the bill might do—section by section, piece by piece, nor sifting through which pieces are really important and which we could live without.

My understanding is that the Congressional Budget Office has scored the BBBB as adding about $160 billion to the deficit which is not nothing, but is not all that great a percentage of GDP. We probably can afford the BBBB and there are many Americans who would have benefitted, particularly among the less fortunate. The Republicans object to the bill just because it came from the Democrats. Perhaps if Mr. Biden actually explained the benefits in more than a sound bite he could mobilize the people to put pressure on their members of Congress to vote for the BBBB. But Mr. Biden is constitutionally unable to convince anyone of anything and so the bill will not pass. Add that to the haste with which this was constructed, the fact that few have read the bill and that the Dems want to rush this through before they lose their slim majorities (likely in less than a year) and you have a recipe for failure.

The same is true about Covid. Sure Dr. Fauci tells people to get vaccinated and boosted, but does he draw the connection between this behavior and survival in a fashion that takes hold with those who do not trust the government, the FDA, the CDC or the NIH? Not really. The FDA is the agency that gave us the new astronomically costly Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm despite its rejection by the independent FDA advisors. Some of these advisors resigned over the FDA’s decision. The FDA was also instrumental in promoting the opioid crisis by getting in bed with Big Pharma to approve drugs like OxyContin as being less addictive when they aren’t.

This is not a good time for authority figures. Neither Dr. Fauci nor Mr. Biden has avoided the rage of the internet and the conspiracy theories of the far right. But what if they had taken the high road and instead of talking down to the American people like scolding parents they had actually explained the science of vaccination and the benefits of the BBBB?

I’m not sure if anything would have made a difference with the GOP in the Senate or the unvaccinated, but I sure would like to have tried. No one did. And here we are.

2 thoughts on “For Lack Of An Explanation”

  1. Hi, Dr. Zwelling. While I sense that you and I probably have differing political ideologies, your point on persuasion is dead-on. Speaking only for me and those in my immediate circle, we’re on outrage overload. Everything is a crisis, everything is an opportunity for public shaming. While I’m no fan of the BBB legislation, I’m open to being persuaded that there are parts of it that are worth salvaging, but Bernie Sanders frothing at the mouth insisting that non-passage will plunge us into Dustbowl 2.0 is just too much. And for the GOP to suddenly become deficit hawks is beyond laughable.

    I’ve all but given up on rationality from our “leaders” in Washington. When my friends, colleagues or family members get a bit too worked up about politics, I remind them that real change begins at home. I suggest that for every venom-spewing anonymous Tweet, maybe spend ten minutes actually chatting with a neighbor over the backyard fence. Pick up trash on your block. Just imagine if instead of making Portland a war zone for years, Antifa and the Proud Boys had instead marched arm-in-arm to the nearest public school asking, “How can we help?”

    Happy New Year to you and yours.

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