House Democrats recently passed President Biden’s $1.75 trillion infrastructure plan, a step in the right direction as millions of Americans continue to grapple with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. As Congress returns to work this week, Democrats have an immense opportunity to improve the lives of millions and build the foundation for decades of strong economic growth — but only if Democrats like Texas 28th District’s Henry Cuellar get out of their way.
Virtually every policy contained within the President’s plan — from an expanded Child Tax Credit system and universal pre-k so people can go to work without the burden of our exorbitant childcare costs that hangover families, to Medicare expansion and climate provisions so we can protect the health of our elders and the future of our children — is wildly popular among the American people, yet some, like Rep. Cuellar, are standing in the way of these policies in the name of “fiscal responsibility.”
We live in the wealthiest country in the world, and we can easily afford the investments the President has called for. The entire bill can and should be paid for by raising taxes on millionaires, billionaires, and wealthy multinational corporations, a change that would add nothing to the debt, fund vital social programs, and decrease inequality all at the same time. That’s fiscally responsible — what we can’t afford is a continuation of the failed status quo that means many of our fellow Americans are not able to spend money and have a normal life.
Texas’ 28th district, including Laredo, has a higher poverty rate than the national average, and this jobs and infrastructure package would tackle that head-on, creating millions of jobs with good pay, high-quality benefits like health care, and worker protections like the right to join a union.
We cannot look at a country full of working people struggling to get by in the wake of a devastating pandemic and decide that it’s more important to preserve low tax rates for billionaires and corporations than it is to make significant investments in our families and our communities. Billionaires and millionaires don’t need help right now; even during the pandemic, they have continued to profit and prosper. But for the working families who are struggling to get by, these investments would be the relief they have been waiting decades for.
Whether our representatives realize it or not, what they do in the coming weeks will be top of mind for every voter in November 2022. If Representative Cuellar and his right-wing colleagues continue to prioritize the demands of the wealthy over the needs of their constituents, then they are dooming the Democratic party to all-out defeat in 2022 and 2024.
Democrats in Congress have a choice to make — they can either be the party that creates bold change and fights for hard-working Americans, or they can be the party that stood by and passed a watered-down, ineffectual piece of legislation that barely scratches the surface of what is needed. We cannot sacrifice a better future for Texas and the country because of the demands of a handful of donors with deep pockets.
The choice ahead is clear. Our nation is at a crossroads, and it needs saving. Any Democrat that isn’t part of the solution is part of the problem, and they should get out of the way.
Jessica Cisneros is an immigration attorney and a candidate in the democratic primary for TX-28. Morris Pearl is the chair of the Patriotic Millionaires, a former managing director at BlackRock, and co-author of ‘Tax the Rich!’
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