If you saw 2nd District Representative Jared Golden wearing a helmet in Kittery on Thursday, you might have understood that serving in Congress is dangerous work.
Don’t worry, the costume was just right for the show. Golden does most of his work in a suit and tie, and other than one day last January, the office is a fairly safe place.
Golden was dressed to speak to members of the construction unions, reiterating his position that Congress should quickly pass a two-party infrastructure plan so that federal money can come out and get people back to work.
It’s just for the show too. Golden’s real position is that he is one of nine House members to refuse to vote next week for a House budget resolution that would allow Senate Democrats to bend their obscure rules and pass a bill. much larger economic policy law by majority vote.
Unlike working on Capitol Hill, Golden’s decision is actually dangerous as it could tear up a complicated deal and sink both bills.
Renegade Democrats claim they only want to speed up approval of the bipartisan bill, but they know that the idea that there are two separate bills is some kind of fiction – something that only exists in the world where members of Congress run in helmets.
In the world where they wear suits or high heels to work, the two parts of the economy are linked and neither goes anywhere without the other. And neither can pass unless virtually all Democrats, from West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin to New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are on board.
If Golden and the others are just showing their procedural strength to make sure they have influence in the process and maybe show their independence to the people back home, fine. But they take a big risk.
If they go too far, the opportunity to invest in roads, bridges and broadband as well as dental coverage for Medicare beneficiaries, childcare assistance for families and a real attempt of dealing with climate change would all be lost, for this Congress and probably much longer.
Golden comes to this with a unique political challenge.
More of his constituents also voted for Donald Trump than any other Democrat in Congress. At a time when very few voters spilled their tickets, some Trump voters split theirs for Golden.
Golden was keen to collect votes that set him apart from his party, such as when he opposed Nancy Pelosi for the Speaker of the House and when he launched the only democratic vote against the American Rescue Plan, the latest COVID relief bill that, among other things, increased the child tax credit, putting money in the pockets of working families who were struggling even before the pandemic.
These votes did not matter. Pelosi is the speaker, the COVID bill has passed, families are relieved.
Now Golden is positioning itself around a much bigger bill: the $ 3.5 trillion budget resolution that would invest in working families and be paid for with taxes on the wealthiest corporations and individuals. Without this, 31,000 families in the 2nd arrondissement will see the $ 300 per child tax credit check that they started receiving last month disappear.
Golden seems to be learning her political strategy from her former boss, Senator Susan Collins, and it has certainly worked for her. She easily transported Maine last year because she could distinguish her record from that of her party, especially its de facto leader, then President Donald Trump.
But before Golden takes too many steps down this path, he should remember that what worked for Collins might not work for him. When she helped scuttle the Republican plan to repeal Obamacare, she received spontaneous standing ovations at airports and restaurants because she helped save 22 million people in healthcare.
Scuttling the entire Democratic Party’s economic agenda and pushing 4 million children back into poverty is unlikely to have the same effect.
It’s almost time for Golden to put his helmet away and get down to business for real.
Culture & Leisure
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