By Robert Reich
Happy Presidents Day. It’s a good day to contemplate whether Joe Biden has a prayer of keeping a Democratic House and Senate next year. Call me a hopeless optimist, but I think he does.
Yes, I know: Republicans are suppressing votes, Democrats are hopeless at messaging, Biden’s poll numbers are in the basement. But let me give you ten reasons why I think there’s a decent chance Democrats can maintain control of both the House and the Senate, and maybe even gain some seats.
First: It’s likely that job growth between now and November will remain strong (if the Fed doesn’t ruin everything by raising interest rates too high, too soon). We’re still 3.5 million jobs short of where we were in February 2020 — giving the economy lots of room to grow. Biden and the Democrats can take credit for putting the economy back on track.
Second: Inflation will begin edging downward, as supplies of goods increase and demand shifts back to services — removing the one big economic negative. If Omicron infections continue to drop, the decline in inflation could start as early as April.
Third: When the pandemic seems to be over — and there’s a good chance it will feel over by the spring — the nation will breathe a huge collective sigh of relief, and Biden can take credit for getting shots into the arms of 80 percent of Americans.
Fourth: If tensions continue or escalate with Russia over Ukraine – or, lord help us, Russia invades Ukraine – America will unite behind its Commander-in-Chief. Republicans and Democrats in Congress are already demonstrating a remarkable degree of unity over Russia. War is horrific, of course, but it tends to garner support for those in power (at least in its months).
Fifth: Democrats will almost certainly pass Build Back Better in some form this spring. It won’t be nearly as ambitious as the original, but probably enough to generate some visible benefits for families. Republicans will, of course, oppose it, which means even more help for Democrats in November. To pay for Build Back Better, Democrats will increase taxes on corporations and the super-rich (even Joe Manchin is in favor of doing this). Republicans will surely fight these measures to protect rich corporations. Another big plus for Democrats.
Sixth: The courts are pushing back against Republican gerrymandering, giving Democrats better opportunities to hold on to or gain seats.
Seventh: In late spring, Republican appointees on the Supreme Court are likely to overturn Roe v. Wade. Evangelicals will be delighted, but most Americans will be horrified – adding to their motivation to back Democrats in November.
Eighth: The findings of the January 6 Committee will be reported. It won’t be a pretty picture for Trump or the Republican Party. If Democrats are wise, they’ll let Republican Liz Cheney, vice-chair of the committee, lead the charge – presenting the findings and blasting traitorous Trump and seditionist Republicans on every TV network, radio outlet, and whistle-stop around the country. Reminded of the sedition, more voters will swing toward Democrats.
Ninth: In light of this report – and desperate to keep the 2024 Republican nomination for himself – Trump will increase the volume and intensity of his wacko conspiracy theories and other lies. This will motivate even more Democrats as well as Independents and moderate Republicans to vote for Democrats in November.
Tenth and finally: If they’re smart, Joe Biden and the Democrats will center their midterm campaign message on the vulnerability of average working Americans to big corporations and Wall Street, which continue to siphon off most economic gains while the typical American is barely holding on. Biden and other Democrats will show that the GOP is still the party of trickle-down economics, corporate welfare, and crony capitalism – a party that’s been blocking a slew of common-sense Democratic measures to help working Americans — which, they’ll argue, is why we need more Democrats in the House and Senate.
Presto. A huge turnout in favor of Democrats this November, which results in Democrats retaining or even increasing their margins in the House and Senate.
Is this really possible? Democrats have snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory too many times for me to feel confident. But the scenario I’ve sketched is far from being out of the question.