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Welcome to America, I'm John Feffer. I'm John Lovett. Untimely detour on today's pod. Joe Biden's American rescue plan is on its way to becoming law. We'll talk about all the economic and political implications, as well as what else Democrats might be able to achieve now that Joe Manchin has indicated that he's potentially open to reforming the filibuster.
Just the intensity with which I now look not just at the coverage of Joe Manchin, but about like the individual sentences where the dependent clauses are. You can't trust the headlines. Not these days, not not with this media. A lot of parsing later in the show.
Love it. We'll talk to Virginia state delegate Dana Korem about the fights over trans rights happening in statehouses across the country. But first, love it. Tell us about how the show went this weekend.
Hari Kondabolu. Ezra Klein. I pretended to be the host of Jeopardy for a bit. I almost got canceled over a joke, but I made it out and I would say, check it out. You were a great champion.
Thank you so much. I think I know the joke that you almost got canceled. I think it was fine. I gasped.
I guess also it's International Women's Day and we wanted to give a shout out to our Histeria friends and co-hosts Aaron and Elyssa. This week, they'll be interviewing Teen Vogue labor writer Kim Kelly about Amazon unionization and friend of the pod nominee for USAID, Samantha Power is on Histeria. So check it out. New episodes are out every Thursday. You can subscribe and listen wherever you get your podcasts. All right, let's get to the news. Early Saturday morning, after more than twenty four hours in session, the Senate passed the one point nine trillion dollar American rescue plan by a single vote, thanks to the support of all 50 Democrats.
The bill now goes back to the House, where Democrats are expected to approve the changes made by the Senate. President Biden will sign the bill shortly afterwards. He had this to say at the White House after it passed the Senate.
When I was elected, I said we're going to get the government out of the business of battling on Twitter and back in the business of delivering for the American people, making a difference in their lives, giving everyone a chance, a fighting chance.
Of showing the American people that their government can work for them and passing the American rescue plan will do that. You know, it may sound strange, but a lot of senators and congressmen I want to thank, but I really want to thank the American people for making all this possible.
The most significant piece of legislation to benefit working families in the modern history of this country. That's not one of your neo liberal hosts talking. That was a statement from Budget Chairman Bernie Sanders. Guisewite as Bernie think that. And what are some of the highlights for each of you that haven't been talked about as much? Tommy? Let's start with you.
The era of big government is back, baby. I mean, this is this is Kaisei, something really big and totally unfounded, which is that this is a fundamental rejection of Reaganism. Right, in the treatment of government as the enemy. It's a bit of a rejection of Clintonism, but we won't focus on that.
But, you know, it took an approach. Why not? Let's do it. I staged whispered. But, you know, I don't like attacking other podcast hosts.
I guess this is a truly, truly progressive bill. It targets money towards the poorest people. I mean, the most exciting part of this bill might be the fact that the White House believes it will cut child poverty by 45 percent, as much as 50 percent among black families. I mean, many advanced countries, I think 17 is the statistic you always read subsidize having a child. Canada provides up to forty eight hundred dollars per child per year. The United States is finally getting on in the game on this front because there's tons of evidence that suggests that falling into poverty, even for a short period of time as a child has causes permanent damage in terms of your educational attainment, your wages, your health.
So this could be an enormous, enormous piece of an even bigger bill. And I'll pause there, because I'm sure you love it like some of the same parts I do. Yeah, I mean, I think I will you say, I think stepping back, there was a big fight over the minimum wage. It is actually extraordinary that the Democratic caucus was largely united around the amount, the dollar amount of one point nine dollars million. And that really didn't move very much.
We'll talk about some of the other fights that played out inside of of the bill. But that tells you something really positive about just how much the Democratic caucus has shifted every you know, across the board, Biden, Schumer, Bernie, everybody recognizes the importance of like going big and giving people a change that they can see that they can deposit in a bank that's like bold and simple and that and they were worried more about doing too little rather than doing too much.
I agree on the on what Tommy mentioned. I do think that this is it is amazing how much politics has shifted even in the past year. This the fact that the child's benefit extends to people who in the past wouldn't have been able to get it because it was phased out for people as they made less money, it didn't qualify for it. It becomes much more like a universal benefit, a universal basic income almost for parents with kids. And I think that's going to be hard to walk back.
So there's a lot of things like that that I think are the reason Bernie is trying to make people understand that this is more than just that this is covered relief that also, I think, lays the groundwork for a much more progressive government.
Yeah, Democrats have been traditionally in love with like tax credits and so sort of complicated benefits. The child allowance is literally going to be like a monthly check of up to three hundred dollars per child for a lot of low income families, even low income families who are out of work. You know, Eric Levitt's over at New York magazine said that this bill would put more than seven thousand six hundred dollars into the bank account of the typical family of four.
When you combine the direct payments with the child allowance and some of the other benefits. Twenty seven billion dollars in rental assistance for those facing eviction dramatically lowers health insurance premiums through the Affordable Care Act. Just almost got no attention in the bill. So middle to upper income people can get subsidies for the first time on the ACA and lower income people have even bigger subsidies than they had before. Thirty nine billion dollars for child care providers in general and in fighting.
One specific on that health care point, anyone has ever lost their job and try to file for COBRA knows how much it fucking sucks, right? COBRA lets you buy into plans that you know, but you no longer have your employer footing part of the bill. So which is prohibitively expensive. This bill covers 100 percent of COBRA premiums for two years. That's just an enormous that's a sea change for someone that it desperately needs health care, but lost their job because of this bill.
And they say it's going to reduce the number of uninsured by like one point three million by next year. So sorry, I just want to add that because there's so many great pieces of this of this bill.
It's enormously beneficial to people around health care. Thirty nine billion for child care providers, it's going to make all student loan forgiveness tax free, which is a huge deal. It will save the pensions of more than one million unionized workers were about to lose their retirement.
It will shore up those pensions for the next 30 years.
I love Republicans trying to push that around as an attack. Oh, no. Yeah, yeah. Oh, no.
You're gonna save people's retirements who are who've been working. So that's a tough one. It represents the largest public investment in native communities ever by the government. I mean, this is you know, look, I think there are bills and we're going to talk about what we didn't get in the bill. But there are bills where you compromise a lot and say, well, in the end, the good still outweighs the bad. So half a loaf is better than nothing.
This is not that kind of bill, in my opinion. I think this is I think this time we got most of a loaf that's pretty fucking big. The loaf is huge. I think you have to say.
Yes, I think you have to say, look, it seems like there were women, there were more. But you can say like there were sort of these like three negotiations.
One was over the direct payments, one was over the extension of unemployment and one was over the minimum wage. The minimum wage fight was, I think, a defeat. It was a defeat for progressives. It is fully not in the bill. We had hoped that it would be in there that pushes that fight completely off. But as much as I think that the logic around reducing who is producing by 17 million, who is eligible for the direct payments or changing the formula on UI, which actually kind of we can talk about what the actual implications of that are like.
Let's remember Republicans were we remember how there was a there was a moment where Susan Collins and nine other Republicans were going to meet with Joe Biden at the White House. They had proposed 600 billion. Biden was at one point nine billion. There was a genuine debate as to whether or not where we were going to land was someplace in the middle so that he could get Republican votes.
Love it. Aye, aye. Aye, aye. Anonymous Biden adviser who clearly knows their boss really well, decided to be a source for Politico not long ago and said, oh, well, these I can't believe Republicans went to the White House on the and the White House sort of pooh poohed the the meeting and said it wasn't really productive. And that must be Ron Klain fault that Joe Biden, I know, would never do that. And clearly, Joe Manchin is going to make the number come down from one point nine to at least one point three.
Joe Manchin didn't make the final topline number come down at all. Right. That is an enormous victory.
And also to anyone who wonders, OK, what was it worth to win those Georgia Senate races? The conservative estimate is about one point three trillion dollars. That's basically the delta between the bipartisan Republican Senate proposal when they had no leverage. Right. They probably could have chopped it down even more if they had a ton of leverage. And what was actually passed, a one point three trillion dollars is what you all who fought for these Georgia Senate seats got for the American people.
Good job. And where it would be aimed, by the way, it is also where it would be aimed. Right, because Kahrizak had 500 billion for corporations. Right? Right, exactly.
And and just to put a finer point on the election, you know, out of nearly one hundred and sixty million votes that were cast in November, David Perdue, the Republican senator from Georgia, was just fourteen thousand votes away from avoiding a runoff against John Asaph, which he then lost, which then gave us the Senate.
Fourteen thousand votes. That is how close we came to one point nine trillion dollars being, like Tommy said, either 600 billion dollars or maybe nothing about Mitch McConnell.
That's the gender. That's the highest order. I got to tell you.
But putting those Dominion machines there was like one of the most forward thinking, I think, about how I was such a good decision.
How do you think Biden's rescue plan compares both substantively and politically with the other two most recent rescue plans, Trump's Keres Act back in March of a year ago and Obama's Recovery Act in 2009?
Let's do the Recovery Act first. Divided into three parts. This is about to divide. So we would so just say, you know, like we have a joke we now, basically, which is like the Recovery Act is divided into three parts because we would say that every time Barack Obama gave a speech about the Recovery Act, so the Recovery Act was seven hundred and eighty seven billion dollars. This is one point nine. So this is two and a half times the size.
But that was also divided into, as Tom helpfully pointed out, into three parts, a third of which were tax benefits, a third of which were relief for people who had lost their jobs or in otherwise sort of economic trouble. And then another third was long term investments in infrastructure and just end there. So there's two things. One, there's just more money in this bill. It's a much bigger bill. But also that bill was designed, as John said, to kind of it was based on the theory that you kind of nudge people in various small ways to get them to spend the most overall more efficiently, which very well may be true, but it meant a lot of these benefits were hidden so that some of some of the benefits for individuals were through payroll tax credits that they might not see in their paychecks.
You know, we have the the the this one point nine trillion dollar stimulus gives people an additional three hundred dollars a week. This makes the way in which unemployed and others got direct help, but it was more like twenty five dollars a week in direct unemployment insurance, at least in one part of the bill.
And even still, this was also a third of the money was for a long term infrastructure project. So it just gives you a sense that, like, this is much more money that will people be able to see and know that they're getting and know the origin of it. Because I do think that that is one of the lessons from the Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
And by the way, we had to pass the Recovery Act through regular order, which means we needed 60 votes for it. People forget that.
And so. And why did we do that? Because we couldn't find even 51 Democratic senators were willing to go through reconciliation back then because everyone was so enamored with the Senate rules like. So for all the frustrations we have now with Joe Manchin and cinema, which are legitimate, like we had a bunch of conservative to moderate Democratic senators back in 2009 who just didn't want to go through the reconciliation route. And we had to find and that's why the bill was ended up being smaller.
You know, and then in terms of the Carers Act, I do think that even though Trump's Carers Act was like two point two trillion dollars of slightly more money than this, it did deliver much more of the benefits to businesses than it did to individuals, more to upper income people than it did to lower and middle class income people. So this was a much more progressive piece of legislation than the Kahrizak.
I mean, it's also good to remember that in 2009, I think Democrats had thought that the Recovery Act would be the first, but not the last stimulus bill. And then we ran into Mitch McConnell, who was happy to hurt the country if it hurt Obama politically and benefited him right into their great credit. Biden and Schumer and Pelosi, they did not make that mistake this time. And to your point about the Kahrizak, the Kahrizak did a lot of good, but.
Right. Five hundred billion dollars of that bill was in the form of loans and other money to big corporations. And that that had to happen. You couldn't have bank airlines going bankrupt, but it's a lot less targeted. Similarly, the PPP program that went to small businesses created winners and losers in ways that was not great. And so this is direct money to people, direct money to states, to schools. You know, I do think the stories are written about how effective it is.
But in the way the money is used will be uneven. So some states will take the check they get from the federal government and they'll invest it in stuff we think is important. Some red state governors will probably just give rich people a big tax cut. That's just kind of is how it is. But this is a hell of a hell of a good start if you want to get the economy running. I will say politically to the fact that every Republican and most Democrats voted for the Keres Act and its two point two trillion dollars in spending.
Open the door, I think for sure for more moderate Democrats to vote for this much money this time around. So I guess thank you, Donald Trump, for that.
Like the fact that we had a Republican president who was not just solely focused on deficits, though I can't remember one who really was once they got tough because Bush wasn't either.
But the fact that the Trump administration, probably because he wasn't paying any fucking attention to legislating well, actually was.
And because he thought that by giving people money, he could win re-election. Right. Like, that's what those are the motives that probably drove him. So not great motives. But I do think it opened the door for Democrats, especially moderate Democrats, to say, yeah, we're not afraid to spend a bunch of money now.
I also I also do think we benefited from the fact that Republicans spent this week angry at the entity that controls Dr. Souza's image for the brand maintenance they decided to do. I do like it's a big deal like we're doing like government here. You know, politics is going to ultimately lead to government. We're doing the government part right now while you're doing this souce part.
I saw. I saw.
So your Hacket, who worked for Julian Castro during the primary, tweeted just now, once some Democrat, prominent Democrat should go out and say that Fred Flintstone is racist and then we quickly eliminate the filibuster.
And the Fox News covers your joke. I'd obviously like that's a joke, but is it? Yeah. Is it a joke? It might work. It might work. So as we mentioned, Biden and Democratic leaders didn't get everything they wanted in the bill. We talked on Thursday about how Senate moderates demanded to lower the upper income threshold for the fourteen hundred dollar direct payments from one hundred thousand down to eighty thousand. Joe Manchin made a last minute demand to reduce the expanded weekly unemployment benefits from an extra four hundred dollars a week to three hundred dollars a week, though the first ten thousand two hundred dollars worth of benefits will now be tax deductible.
And a vote that Bernie Sanders forced on the 15 dollar minimum wage failed when eight Senate Democrats voted no, including Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema, who drew quite a bit of attention when she marked her vote by flashing a thumbs down on the Senate floor. Tommy, let's start with the unemployment change, which we apparently almost lost Joe Manchin in the entire bill over. What do you think that was all about?
I don't know.
I mean, like, it's hard to know if he really so the generous explanation is that he really did want to try to target as much of this bill as he could to people under a certain income threshold.
But like there also just seems like there's a part of his personality and his governing philosophy where he just draws these lines in the sand and then has to be dragged kicking and screaming back over them. I mean, the final changes he made in terms of unemployment insurance or the four hundred dollars a week went to three hundred dollars a week. That's significant. But this that last minute wrangling, like basically what happened was to get him to yes, the benefit is going to expire on September 6th instead of September 30 1st.
And the tax forgiveness part of this will be capped at people who make one hundred fifty grand in income, which all said and done wasn't that significant of a change when you look at the scope of the bill?
Yeah, it also love it to me, seems like, you know, listening to Joe Manchin talk about sort of these last last minute wrangling, listening to the other senators who really tried hard to convince them.
I mean, it really did come close to there was apparently a Portadown amendment from Rob Portman that was just going to take the money down from four hundred to three hundred without making any of it tax deductible and have a shorter time frame. And Manchin was like ready to go with that. And if Manchin did vote for that Portman amendment, it could have sunk the bill in the House. Progressives in the House could have said no. And just by like sitting down, twisting arms, talking, negotiating, compromising, like they got Manchin back, which tells me that like a some of the reasons Joe Manchin is against bills or for bills or against certain provisions or for provisions like make little sense and be like he is gettable.
Like if you talk to him and sit down with him, it's you know, you can actually bring him back. And that's what a lot of the Democratic senators did.
Yeah, I think it is going to continue to be hard to tell when Joe Manchin has a legitimate moderate policy view based on talking to Democrats and Republicans and finding a way that, I should say, moderate, finding the center of the Senate, which is quite conservative moments when he just actually kind of also believes in a bipartisan process, that he has a kind of aesthetic or kind of faith in bipartisan behavior and wants to model it. Or three, he knows that he's going to ultimately vote for a lot of massive, very progressive Democratic priorities, as he's done in this case.
And he wants to do some performative centrism, some performative moderation. I don't think he hates it when Lindsey Graham and John Thune are on the floor of the Senate joking about like, oh, no, they're going to they're going to get my friend Joe Manchin, somebody protect Joe Manchin from these Democrats. I don't think he hates that at all. Like in this case, you end up with something where I think for some people it comes out in the wash, but not for people who make over a certain amount who won't get the tax benefit.
It seems like he might in part have been genuinely persuaded by people who said Republicans who told him in person, this is too much of a benefit. It's going to dissuade people from work. We can disagree with him on that. But I think there's always with him going to be a mix of those three incentives. Tell me, what do you think we do about the minimum wage now, it wasn't just cinema, but eight Democratic senators Manchin, Tester, Angus King of Maine, Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Tom Carper and Chris Coons of Delaware, they all say they want a minimum wage higher than the current miserable minimum wage of seven dollars and 25 cents an hour.
That hasn't been raised in over a decade, but didn't make it through, didn't make it through this bill. What do we do now?
Yeah, I mean, look, it's very, very disappointing. It is not clear to me if they voted against it because they think 15 dollars is too high or if it was because the parliamentarian in this instance determined that it couldn't be part of the bill. But it is frustrating. I mean, there's sort of a benchmark piece of legislation out there called the Raise the Wage Act, I think is Bernies bill. It is thirty seven Democrats who co-sponsor it, which is nowhere near enough.
So, I mean, I think we're going to either have to to make the case Twist's imams try to get 50 people and find a way to do it in another reconciliation bill, or Republicans and Democrats are going to have to find a compromise that probably is closer to an 11 dollar minimum wage increase. But if they can index that to inflation, that could be an important development in in a in an area that's just been stuck for a decade. And it really needs to be increased.
Well, what would you think about that? Thumbs down from Kyrsten Sinema? I don't I don't care.
I am. I am. I find her logic frustrating. I find the policy decision frustrating. I don't give a shit how she votes. Sometimes they vote with their thumbs down. I don't care. I don't care at all. I'm sorry.
I'm sorry. They lose a lot.
I don't like I just think it's like, where do we want to where do we want to channel our energy. Right. Like I think where we want to generate our energy now is what Tommy was just saying, which is like, OK, if you have mentioned on Meet the Press said every single senator, even Republican senators wants a higher minimum wage. Right. So if you can get a compromise, even with Republicans to get 11 or something around there that's indexed to inflation, maybe you get 60 votes for that.
Or maybe as as Dan has suggested, you fire the parliamentarian quietly so that next time you do a big package like this, you get a more favorable ruling and then you see what what Democrats want for higher wage. Maybe you get 11, maybe get 12 from them. The other thing that we can do is the fairness project that has one minimum wage ballot measures in nine states, red, purple, blue. They want to do more in twenty twenty two.
Let's get it on the ballot in in some states, we can win in very red states there. And then like as we look ahead to twenty, twenty two, we have a bunch of Democratic candidates we're going to nominate for the Senate. Let's make sure they specifically support a fifteen dollar minimum wage.
And one other piece of this, too, is like we should focus on the people who voted no and try to understand why they voted no. And like, for example, Shaheen, she said basically she is worried about the tipped minimum wage, given the vulnerability, the restaurant industry. Let's make an argument about that. Let's make an argument about why it's really important to raise the minimum wage. Sinema had a problem with the process and whether or not to do it through reconciliation.
Maybe she's open now to doing a 15 hour minimum wage otherwise. So like each of these people who voted no offered a different motivation. Let's understand those motivations and see which of them are gettable to get that number higher and higher and closer to 50. Because the closer we are to 50, I think that the better position will be to negotiate if it ultimately comes down to negotiation over coming down from 15 to 13 to another. No finding on other kinds of compromise.
Like, for example, when it look like the minimum wage was going to come out, there was a brief moment where there was an option for figuring out a way to just do a fifteen dollars minimum wage for big corporations. That fell away because it seemed complicated and and there were questions about how to administer it. But like that is a policy idea that's been floating around for a long time. And raising the minimum wage for big corporations would create pressure on the wage across the country.
So like there are there are different paths we should pursue.
But like I would say, like focusing on the actual motivation for those people and criticize them, put pressure on them, but like understand their reasons. Yeah, like you don't have to like her, we're stuck with Kyrsten Sinema till 2024. All right. We're stuck with Joe Manchin until then, too. We're stuck with them.
They're going to they're going to have jobs. There's nothing we can do. And so and we need their votes. We need every single vote in a Senate that's tied right. Until twenty, twenty two. And maybe we get some more senators if we're very, very lucky and work very hard.
So you're totally right. Love it. That like understanding what has caused these people to oppose it is much better than like I see a lot of people tweeting old statements from all these senators who voted no that said they want to raise the minimum wage as if it's like, gotcha, hypocrite. You know, it's like, well, all of them want to raise the raise the minimum wage. Either they don't think 15 is the right amount, which I disagree with.
I want 15. We all want 15. Or they didn't like the process. Right. So, like, understand why they didn't like it. Get everyone in a room and let's like figure out a way to do this. It just seems like the best bet, right? Like Testor mansion.
Like they are. They are they have a lower cost of living in their state. So there's like a challenge there. And like low cost of living was high cost of living states. Obviously, one thing that will help is Dan Pfeiffer's primary challenge to Tom Carper is going to create some pressure on him to move.
Dan from Delaware. Yeah, to Delaware for Dan, frankly.
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Let's tell you, the Republicans who gave a grand total of zero votes for a piece of legislation supported by 70 percent of Americans and about half of all Republican voters at the beginning of this process, a lot of political reporters were obsessed with Biden getting Republican votes for this, partly because Republicans spun it that way, partly because Biden said during the campaign that he could get Republicans to work with him. Want to talk about bi partisanship in a second, but what happened to the working class populist party of Josh, Holly and Tom Cotton guys?
What was that? We didn't get a vote from our populist heroes and the Republican Party. What happened, Tom? They are full of shit.
I mean, Tom Cotton and Mitt Romney. I mean, that's the minimum wage. They have a bill that would raise the minimum wage to ten dollars an hour, but it takes longer. It's by twenty, twenty five. But it also ties it to an immigration reform measure to screen out undocumented workers. So their bill is not designed to just help the working poor. It's designed to be a wedge issue and probably a popular one. But in a sign of how full of shit Tom Cotton is, Arkansas, his home state, already has a minimum wage above ten dollars an hour.
So this guy is proposing something that doesn't even help his own constituents. So I think that tells you all you need to know about their sincerity in this area. Love it, what is the unified Republican opposition to this bill say to you about the future of bipartisanship in the in the Biden era?
Well, I say prospects are not good, especially because, look, we talked about this. I think the fact that, like, I think it's actually a bit obviously, I think Republicans were never going to support en masse this bill.
They're just not going to do that. It tells you something about the asymmetric polarization in our country that Democrats got behind the Kahrizak act and Republicans will not get behind this. But the fact that none peeled off, not a not no Republicans made the calculation that that they should buck their party and get behind this kind of legislation tells you how much more afraid Republicans are of primaries in the general election and how difficult will be to pry Republicans away from their their leaders and from the base to vote with Democrats even on very, very popular bills like this.
What do you think, Tommy?
I mean, look, my view is, you know, Biden, obviously part of his campaign was him saying, you know, I could probably I can deal with Mitch McConnell. The fever will break some of the some of what we heard from Obama back in the day to be a part of it was, you know, I think I can bring the country together around sort of big policy goals.
It feels like he achieved the ladder here, even if he did not achieve the former.
I look at people like the bill, the more you tell them about the bill that they like it more. Right. I mean, you could make an argument about Washington polarization, that the partisanship is actually worse than it was under Obama because the Recovery Act got Republican votes. They're vastly different, Bill. So that's maybe apples to oranges.
But, you know, the thing that I think is hard to understand and confusing about all of this in terms of how it shakes out, is that Trump in the Republican Congress are in very different places when it comes to these issues. Right. I mean, Trump blames McConnell for the Georgia Senate loss because Democrats ran on giving two thousand dollar checks in. Mitch would only offer six hundred dollar checks.
So the future of the Republican Party is very much in doubt with this Major Trump McConnell split. And I'm not exactly sure what what path they will charge, but it does seem like the Republican members of Congress are wildly out of step with the country and even their own voters. That's the most important point, I think, for Biden of the Democrats to keep making this whole thing has been the test for Biden about bipartisanship. It's not a test. Biden has done great here.
Biden decided to put forth a bill that most Americans, including Republicans, support. He asked Republicans for their input. He met with them. They decided that they didn't really want to play ball. Everyone in the country or 70 percent of the country still supported the bill. It's a bill that will deliver benefits to people in blue states and red states. He had a bunch of mayors and governors who are Republicans supporting it, too. If a bunch of Republicans in D.C. want to be intransigent and just continue to oppose every single thing he does, that's their problem.
They're the ones out of step with the voters.
I would also say to that, like, I've obviously there's a lot of different ways you can describe unity. It's an entirely nebulous concept. But one thing that was striking is after this after this past, right. No Republican votes.
There was a there was a Times piece that was like, you know, Joe Biden's efforts to produce unity couldn't overcome the acrimony of Washington and the bitter fight over the stimulus bill.
I think it was that bitter. Like I wasn't it wasn't a bitter.
It was it was kind of, you know, like I it is abnormal to have a Republican Party not interested in saving the country in the midst of a pandemic, but the actual process by which are produced. Yeah. You got your usual bullshit from your Tom Cotton saying, oh, it's just a check for prisoners, even though they did the exact same thing with whatever. There's a lot of the usual shit. But like, this wasn't a particularly bitter fight.
This I actually think it was a much less bitter fight than the fight over Obamacare and a lot of respects in terms of how it actually played out. So I don't know. I think what Biden said, right. Is focused on actual policy, not Twitter, I think is having some knock on effects that was made in the inaugural.
He said every disagreement doesn't have to be a cause for total war. That's the standard, he said, and that's what happened with this bill. There was a bunch of disagreements, but like everyone sort of moved on. We passed a huge progressive piece of legislation. Great Dan had some great ideas. And this week's message box, this weekend's message box about how to sell the American rescue plan. Tell me, how do you think how important do you think it is to take a victory lap on this?
And do you have any any other good ideas on how to sell this thing?
I think it's important to sell any accomplishment. And this one in particular, because as we talked about earlier in the polling, the more people hear about this bill, the more they will like it. Now, I do think this is a this is a very different sales job than what Obama attempted to do in 2009. Right. Because the way Biden is going to sell this bill will be in part to just continue to manage the vaccine rollout. Well, we haven't even talked about the fact that this this bill provides a ton of money from covid testing and for vaccinations.
People want the people want the vaccine or if they don't want the vaccine, they want others around them to be vaccinated so that the cases drop down and they get their lives back. Right.
People who get checks will probably be happy to get a fourteen hundred dollar check because they need it. I do worry a bit about the people who got a check the first time during the Trump administration and aren't getting a check this time because the the income threshold was changed. But, you know, hopefully Biden can hang that change around the Republicans neck and, you know, make them make them own it. But, you know, look, I'm glad that Biden is saying I want to be out there.
I want to talk about this bill. I want to sell it hard.
I think that there is definitely room to criticize the ways the Obama White House did or did not sell the stimulus in 2009, but is also just an entirely different context. Like unemployment was way higher, the economy wasn't recovering fast. And hopefully the Biden team will be in a place going into the midterms where the the covid outbreak has just been managed completely in the country. And the economy is just is cooking again because this was a very different recession. It wasn't a big structural challenge with the banks.
It was, you know, everybody having to sit in their house because they didn't want to get sick. Yeah, I mean, it certainly wasn't for lack of trying that we didn't really sell the Recovery Act in 2009. Love it. How many times do we write? The Recovery Act is divided into three parts.
You did a lot of events after the bill was passed. You traveled all over the country, did a ton of events. I think part of the problem is the substance of the bill. Like you said, Tommy there like and Levy pointed this out to that there's like tax changes that people can't really see. I saw, you know, Post had a piece this weekend that said Ed Rendell, I can't believe going to bring Ed Rendell up, but he wanted Obama to send a letter to every American saying what benefits they were going to get.
And we said, no.
I think Ed Rendell was right.
Donald, Donald Trump wanted to fucking sign the checks and signed the stimulus checks. Like I at the time, I wasn't one of the people criticizing that. Yeah, sign the fucking checks, Joe.
But I just didn't want him to sign them. I didn't want Trump to sign them. I didn't want his name on those fucking checks.
Right. It's valuable to do that. Yes. I mean, look, there was no vaccine for the predatory lending and mortgage crisis that was unfolding. And so there was no clear end in sight. And so we were very careful. President Obama was very careful. We were very careful speechwriters to make sure that even as we talked about all the things the Recovery Act did, we were very nervous about sounding too Pollyanna ish about the state of the economy because of how hard things were and how long they were going to be hard.
So I do think that part of it is just it's a different sort of crisis.
Yeah, Jen said at the briefing this morning that a vast majority of Americans will be getting some relief by the end of this month, too. Two, that's a huge difference in both the Recovery Act and the Affordable Care Act, which, like the benefits for that, didn't kick in until two years now. Right. And so the fact that a bunch of Americans are going to you know, they'll know that this bill passed and then a month later are going to get relief.
I mean, Biden's got an address, a primetime address this Thursday, now scheduled to talk about covid. He's, we think has the address to Congress, his joint session to Congress, which is like a State of the Union in the first year. He'll hopefully have that to sell it. I saw a story that they're going to be working with, like social media influencers to sort of get the word out to different communities that they're doing this. So I think it's going to be a full court press.
You know, and what Phifer pointed out in his in the message box, too, is like it's up to all of us to like everyone who worked so hard to organize in this election to, like, get friends to vote. That work continues in selling what Joe Biden actually did for people, because if people don't know that the government did anything for them, like you can't blame them for not voting again. Right.
You've got to you've got to be explicit, just to paraphrase Mike Tyson for a second, like everyone's got a rollout plan and so you get punched in the face. I mean, some shit is going to happen that is going to entirely change the focus of the national conversation. Maybe it'll be another Dr. Seuss related crisis or maybe it'll be something far more serious. We don't know. I hope that they're able to really focus on this bill and sell it to the American people.
But like, you don't always have the choice. Fox News certainly isn't going to help you. They don't give a shit what you say.
Well, Fox News is not going to like are we going are we going to spend every episode of positive America being like now for our two minute segment on the American rescue plan, just so it's impossible to do that, like some of this is going to be.
You know, there's some outside organizations that can do some paid advertising.
I think that's that has to be announced. Yeah, I think that's part of it, too.
I think we should just need to get we got to have to get Meghan Markle to say that Prince Philip fucking hated it.
That would be a good idea. You're thinking outside the box and there thinking, I also do this, too, like one of it. One of the challenges, too, is like I think Biden also should talk about keeping up the fight for the minimum wage, because I do think that, like, people were disappointed and the fight over the minimum wage, I think could for a lot of people until they if they don't know more about what's in this, like he could like, that defeat could overshadow the the the enormity of what they achieved.
And so I think like people like Elizabeth Warren, I thought struck the perfect note when she was describing this, like how big of a victory this is. But on a couple on these key issues, like the fight continues. And I think Biden should say that to me very well.
And some in even in like very online communities, people were wallowing in the defeats and then slowly figuring out what was in the bill. And you'd see Twitter from like policy reporters being like, wow, the more I dig into this, the more impactful indicators suggest no shits. Like, let's let's let's let's take a win policy.
Reporters and activists who've been working on these issues for years, like the people Rosa DeLauro and a lot of the organizers and activists who've been fighting for a child allowance, and Cory Booker and Michael Bennet and Sherrod Brown, they've been pushing this for years. And they could not get people to really pay attention to trying to fight child poverty with the child allowance. And like you talk to any of those people who've been fighting for this for a long time, they're pretty fucking excited.
Yeah, they're thrilled. Let's talk about what's next for Biden and the Democrats in terms of their legislative agenda. They have one more 51 vote reconciliation process they can use to spend money on infrastructure, climate and other economic budgetary priorities like we saw in the American rescue plan. As long as the filibuster remains in place, everything else has to be passed through the regular 60 vote process, probably a path to citizenship protections for Dreamers, police reform, the Equality Act and H.R. one, which is the Voting Rights and Democracy Reform legislation known as the for the People Act.
Prime Minister Manchin did a round of interviews this weekend where he made some newsworthy comments on both reconciliation and the filibuster. Here's what he told Mike Allen of Axios.
Reconciliation is not a team sport and it's not a healthy situation and is something we should not repeat.
After you swallow the covid relief plan, President Biden is going to have a second package. You're laughing, but a second package, maybe even bigger, probably focused on infrastructure and energy, climate plan.
What is it? That's all good. But I'm not going to do it through reconciliation. If my Democrats vote on my fellow Democrats have bought on that, you have no Republican friends that will work in a reasonable manner. I don't subscribe to that.
Would you support any kind of filibuster reform? The only thing I have even considered or thought of is basically some through the history, how it used to be in court, there should be pain to a filibuster and pain and what is out there talking basically, you know, you got to read the phone book or whatever to do whatever. But make sure you get a little bit of pain. Just don't say we're not going to vote. I'm not going to vote for that.
What what other pain? Well, you have the pain basically is the filibuster talking filibuster. They've talked before. Some of the rules could be changed a little bit, but not to the point where just a simple majority rules.
Nobody wants to make the filibuster more painful. What does that look like in practice and why is that potentially big news?
Well, so one thing to know that I think a lot of people didn't fully understand just how codified and routinized the filibuster is right now, which is nobody has to show up. Nobody has to stand up and talk. One staffer in a Senate office just has to respond to an email saying that they are not going to go along with the unanimous consent. Right. So it's just like an email response right now that causes this explosion in the number of filibusters we used to talk about.
They're sort of like shadow filibusters because no one ever actually shows up and does the filibuster. It's predicated on the assumption that there will be a filibuster. And what Manchin is saying here is let's actually force them of the filibuster. Let's have them show up. Norm Ornstein has written in The Atlantic a number of different ways that this can play out. Some of it is just saying you have to show up and talk some of it. Is it changing from you need 60 people to say yes, that as opposed to only 40 people to say no.
So if they want to have an ongoing filibuster for two people to literally be in the body. But all this is about getting rid of the assumption that every single piece of legislation requires 60 votes. So so so basically, Manchin is saying he is open to those kinds of reforms. And it's interesting, right? Because people have been shouting questions at Joe Manchin about the filibuster for months now. He seems to be quite frustrated with it. And he's saying, will you abolish the filibuster, will abolish the filibuster?
And he's always like, no, never. How dare you stop asking? I won't even consider it. But as we've said many times, follow, follow, along with parts of America that that left the room open for some kind of reforms that maybe leave some version of the filibuster in place, but gets what he wants, which is bipartisan debate, bipartisan involvement, minority involvement in the decisions of the legislature without giving Mitch McConnell a veto on every single bill in perpetuity.
Yeah, I think, Tommy, when I first heard about this, I was like, well, couldn't you see a grandstander like asshole like Ted Cruz or Josh Holloway being like, yeah, I'll sit and talk on the floor for a couple of days.
But if they have to talk forever or if they need 40 people, 40 Republican senators basically to maintain a filibuster and to be on the floor constantly, that's pretty. How long can you keep that up?
Like maybe that and then, you know, it's pretty good to me.
Yeah, I have more questions and answers about how this process would work. I mean, could you just, like, stack one filibuster speech after another so that it de facto lasts forever? I don't know that these geezers could pull that off, but it's a question.
I say, does Manchin think we need a bunch of Republican votes on a filibuster reform package before he'll support it? I don't know. I know that Manchin backed a version of a filibuster reform bill like this back in 2011 that didn't pass. I mean, look, the talking filibuster is better. We should note that the context that it was it was used extensively to filibuster civil rights legislation. There's a dark history there that may get repeated with H.R. one.
So it's not a it's not a great option, but it's a hell of a lot better than just, you know, things as they are now, where basically we could do two bills in Joe Biden's first term and they both will be reconciliation. Yeah, I think with the talking filibuster, does is the if when the public comes to see the Senate just be at a standstill and just speeches against voting rights and civil rights for like a week at a time, two weeks at a time, and it just keeps going and going and going eventually.
Is there more pressure than there would be with the automatic 60 vote margin to at least sit down and start compromising? Right. And so maybe on H.R. one, you get like, you know, Manchin sick of this filibuster that's going forever. Cinema is you say, OK, maybe the Republicans don't want publicly funded elections, but maybe they'll do automatic voter ID. You know what I'm saying? Like, this gives us the possibility for more compromise than we had with, as Lovett was pointing out, just an email that says, yeah, my senators know and we're going to have to get 60 no matter what.
It's it's something. And we just had nothing. So it's good news for that.
I also would say to like. You know, even on this question about him requiring bipartisan votes on things like infrastructure, these maximal hypotheticals posed to Joe Manchin, he is very he is hell bent on demonstrating that he when he says he's bipartisan, he means it, but he still leaves the door open. And I think sometimes that is lost like so he said, I am not going to get on a bill that cuts them out completely before we start trying.
Trying before we start trying. Right. I caught that, too.
So, so, so like he is I think that one of the reasons sometimes mansions, positions on some of these things have been presented as like fait accompli or like kind of immoveable is because I think he actually wants them to seem that way. He wants them to when someone that's like, will you ever do this without being bipartisan? He's like, hell no, how dare you even ask me? But when he actually comes down to the governing and the legislating, he is leaving the door open.
And look like I'm not saying Joe Manchin is where we want him to be on a whole host of policies across the board. But I think we just need to be like really specific about where, where, what he's actually been saying, because sometimes Joe Manchin being anti something kind of slows everything down, like, well, why bother? We don't have Manchin, but like, he's gettable. We should think of him always as being gettable.
Which shows back to our question about the future of bipartisanship. Even though there were no Republican votes. This time, Joe Biden is going to continue the dance of I want to try to get Republicans to work with me, if not for the American people, or because he believes it to be true for Joe Manchin, for the audience of Joe Manchin as European cinema, like no cost as he should, as he should.
And, you know, today he was asked about Biden's position on the filibuster and she said, again, you know, he would prefer the rules not to be changed. I wish you know, he his position now is Joe Manchin. The idea of the talking filibuster is interesting, but like maybe Joe Biden doesn't want to get out in front of the parade. Maybe he wants to have Manchin in the Senate go through this themselves. That's fine. I think there's going to be I do think there's going to be a moment where Joe Biden is going to have to show leadership on this and push, particularly on H.R. one.
It maybe that's not maybe the moment is not here yet, but he's going to have to get there at some point.
But there's also like one thing that has been very useful about Joe Biden's moderate aesthetic, which is a lot of times what it really boils down to. We were incredibly frustrated by him in the primary saying that Republicans are going to have an epiphany and all that. One of the advantages of that is when he does come to a progressive position, it looks more moderate. It becomes the kind of consensus position, and that's really valuable. So ultimately, when he does come out for some kind of filibuster reform, you know that it will be a consensus position that some other Democrats that are reluctant can can hopefully, hopefully get behind.
I do think this next reconciliation bill, if it ends up being a reconciliation bill, is going to be pretty wild. It's going to be an infrastructure climate bill, maybe up to they floated four trillion dollars. And now Joe Manchin saying he wants it paid for by raising taxes he wants and pays for people to.
We're just like, OK, you can pass a four trillion dollar bill raising taxes and you're going to do it by getting 10 Republican senators on board.
Like, well, I don't know what Joe mentioned smoking. That's why he's annoying, right? Because he wants a two to four trillion dollar bill, but he won't vote for it if Republicans aren't included. But he says it has to be fully paid for. But he wants to increase the corporate tax rate and then repeal the Trump tax cuts. You know, that that that scenario does not exist. So to float it like that in an interview to create a dynamic that is impossible to achieve is it's baffling to me.
I mean, again, yeah, it would be like looking like maybe he just likes to make a scene so that he can prove to folks back home that he is not loved by either party to get things done and is his own man. And I'm sure that plays well. But it's very fucking frustrating for those of us who are trying to parse his statements and create something that is logically coherent because it does not exist there.
How dare you, Tommy, how fucking dare you talk about Joe Manchin, who we love. These are these are these are prime minister. Look, I think the most generous interpretation of that is that Joe Manchin was speaking to Republican senators directly and this is basically saying this is our opening offer for trillion dollars, a bunch of shit. We want to raise taxes to pay for it. We want to work with you guys. What do you got? Right.
And then we'll see. And then, you know, they won't come back and say absolutely not. Some of them will. Most of them will.
But like his buddies, who are Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski and and Mitt Romney will come back and say, OK, I could do some pay for is some taxes. I can cut it down to three trillion or two, you know, like. So maybe this is just sort of the opening negotiation here. But I do think for our purposes, like Democrats and activists and organizers need to start pushing our priorities for this next reconciliation bill for the build back better bill, whatever it's going to be called.
And it can be anything from I think it's going to be climate's going to be huge in this bill. This is where we're going to get climate done. To the extent we're going to get done, there's a lot more there's making the child care allowance permanent could happen in this bill as well. Some some of these measures, most of the measures in the covert relief, the American rescue plan only last a year. So making them permanent in the next bill is going to be really important, too.
So there's there's a lot we should like we should fight to get done there. I do think on H.R. one, the key now is going to be really put pressure on your representatives, whether they're Democrat or Republican in the House and the Senate, especially in the Senate. And it's going to go there now to pass this bill to make sure we have a big fight over this. You can go to vote, save America Dotcom's for the people to learn more about H.R. one and to help make sure it gets passed.
This is going to be hopefully the next big fight and the real test of Joe Manchin flirtation with filibuster reform. It's a flirt. It's an open flirtation. It's getting pretty. It's been pretty a pretty flirtatious, pretty. I think they may. What are you going to say? I don't know, I'm not funny anymore. Maybe I never was out of this pandemic. I'm good on it. One year, happy year anniversary, boys. Oh, my God, yeah.
One. Oh well. When we come back, you'll get to hear love it be funny with Virginia state delegate Danica Roe. Of America is brought to you by zip recruiter and the next few months our government will be transitioning. You know what? We're going to need to update this ad copy.
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Joining us on the Ponche is a Virginia state delegate and former journalist, first elected in twenty seventeen. She was the first openly transgender person to serve in a U.S. state legislature. Please welcome Danica Roehm. Good to see you.
Thank you so much for the invitation to join. So since President Biden was inaugurated in January, he's made federal protections for trans Americans. Are priorities lifted, the ban on trans servicemembers, for example? At the same time, we're also seeing a record number of anti trans bills at the state level. Where do you see the fight for trans rights right now? What are some of these aggressive local efforts to discriminate? What do they mean to trans people?
And what should people do right now in response?
Sure. So I'll take the second half of that first and then we'll come back to this in the first half. So the first thing about what should people do in response is a white people who will actually take care of their constituents, who won't single out and stigmatize the very people they're elected to serve. Look what happened here in Virginia. Now that we've done that, now that we have our Democratic majorities that we worked so hard to elect first coming within a hair in twenty seventeen and then actually winning the majorities in twenty nineteen.
We have passed so many pro LGBTQ bills in the Virginia general. Within the last two years, it's been an all you can Gabr thing in Richmond, it's just we have done things like the Virginia Values Act, which actually put some real teeth into our enforcement mechanisms. HB ten forty nine familial vigne, which added sexual orientation, gender identity to more than 70 different sections of nondiscrimination code. We passed my bills to prohibit discrimination against trans people in health insurance, which actually happened to me in 2014.
We passed my bills to ban the gay panic defence this year, HB twenty one thirty two. We passed my bill last year to allow for localities to include sexual education, gender identity and their nondiscrimination ordinances at the local level. We passed my resolution, they say. Eighty five to recognize the Transgender Day remembrance on November 20th. Every year in Virginia, we have non binary driver's licenses now as well. We are actually have we passed one bill from Delegate Jennifer Carol Foy, who's now running for governor, that says that if you're going to have a dress code at your public school, that it has to be gender neutral.
So you're not just picking on gay and trans kids. And we have passed just there's so many more if you want me to just kind of take them off.
No, I'm happy to enjoy it, but I'm enjoying it. Yeah. So we're really trying to get at here is like we've done HIV modernization this year, for example, an LGBTQ advisory task force that actually responds directly to the governor. For example, we've had bills to deal with people who were discharged with anything other than honorable under don't ask, don't tell, so that at least in Virginia, we're respecting their service and the list goes on. And so it's like, oh, and I should also mention we also passed a bill for model trans policies for how to humanely train trans kids in schools, which is something that's obviously at the heart of a lot of the fights going on right now.
And also, here's another thing. One of the fights right now is about, you know, like sports and stuff like that in Virginia.
We took care of this six years ago.
If you actually look at the model policy of the Virginia high school, they use this here in Virginia. It's a non issue. There's an entire process that trains athletes go through. So it's basically verified that they're not going to have a inherently competitive advantage over other people. At the same time, you look at the policy that we've done, you look at there's a few trans kids, but not a lot, but just a few who actually play sports in first place here because most kids feel too stigmatized to even do it.
And you look at where we are and it's just like, what's the point of attacking children, their kids? They want to play sports or what? This might mean that as the the opponents might say, like, oh, well, then this is going to prevent this some sister or girl from getting a varsity scholarship or whatever. First off, the girls who are competing in force levels are incredible athletes to begin with. I covered them as a newspaper reporter covering high school sports for ten and a half years.
Like I am telling you, we we are looking at a lot of kids who are extremely just like really another thing is that when you have trans kids who are on puberty blockers who were on HRT to begin with and within nine months their testosterone levels, either that at that level or even below that of this girls, their estrogen level is the same same range. They don't have that competitive advantage. And in fact, with puberty blockers plus after HRT, you're even basically allowing their growth to be consistent with that of CIS girls in the first place.
Ask me how I know as a trans person, I'll be happy to tell you.
Yeah, so you're right. Right. They're focusing on trans youth and specifically around sports. Sixty five of the seventy three anti trans bills introduced at the state level this year specifically targeted trans youth. Many around sports. It seems like gay people were stigmatized for a long time. If we let gay people marriage, society is going to fall. They lost that issue. They lost that policy. They lost that issue on the politics. They don't even talk about the fact that gay people getting married was going to destroy society.
Society continues, and yet they've sort of abandoned that. Now it seems like they want to stigmatize trans people. They want to turn trans people into what gay people were in the early 2000s.
Have you been reading my email phone hacking into my phone as I've been talking with other people or other reporters, because I've literally said this verbatim. We are just relitigating the fights from seventeen years ago only now with the new victim only. So instead of attacking gay people for wanting to get married, now they're attacking trans kids because they're a softer target to attack.
It's really so it's it's obviously like if you look at the fight over gay rights, what you see is over time, they will not win. They will not succeed. But what was terrible at the time, right. Is two thousand for a bunch of discriminatory anti-gay amendments. Make it onto the books. And even as the public moves further and further away, we have to go back and chip away at those laws. This is even more pernicious because this is attacking children.
How do we make sure that even as we see the public moving on trans issues, learning more, coming to understand, coming to be more compassionate, coming to. To see trans people as people and not as a scapegoat, that we don't end up with a bunch of these horrible laws on the book that will punish, stigmatize, harm kids at this pivotal moment when they're just when they're when they're at the beginning of their life, when when they're when they're at their most vulnerable.
So there's a few things.
The first part of this is that one of the most important parts of winning federal elections is having judges. Right and being able to appoint and confirm judges. And that's going to be one of the horrible legacies from the last four years, is having a lot of people with anti LGBTQ records being put on the bench. And at the same time, we know that if President Biden has Supreme Court nominees or he's going to pick if we know that there's going to be other federal circuit court judges and appellate court judges who he's going be able to pick, what we're looking at here is basically understanding that when you look at Title nine, when you look at federal discrimination laws in general as it is that federal judges who are actually understanding what the law means and that the idea that discrimination on account of sex is inherently when you discriminate on account, sexual orientation or gender identity, it is inherently to discriminate on account of sex, as we even saw in the Bostik ruling last year.
Right. And not to mention that I have the Equal Rights Amendment tattooed on my arm, but that's a whole different story for another day. If you if you get into that level of public policy here, what you're going to find is that the federal government has to be our backstop against a lot of these really regressive and repressive bills that are being introduced and passed. Because if you look at what happened in Idaho when they started taking shots at trans kids, it took federal courts to actually have to block them in the first place.
And so that's the first component of it. The second component of it is you have to win elections everywhere at the municipal level, at the county level, at your state level. You have to compete. You have to win. And the reason for that is what we are seeing. Where are these transorbital or these anti Tranz bills most likely to succeed in Republican trifectas, states where you have a Republican governor, Republican led chamber and are basically in Republican majorities in both chambers of their state legislature, unless you're Nebraska unicameral.
Quick little trivia fact. There's one whole state legislature in the United States. But what I would just kind of posit here is that in order to win those state elections, that means that you have to be as special as LGBTQ people, vulnerable enough to be visible in the first place, to put yourself out there knowing full well that there are repercussions that come with putting yourself out there as an LGBTQ person. I did it in twenty seventeen and I'm not going to be that person who is going to tell you that my experience is going to be what you were going to experience, neither better nor worse.
It just is just exist. And when I won, I took on a twenty six year incumbent who had been elected 13 times, who had been in office since I was seven years old and had accumulated the most critical voting record. And not just voting record, but actually the bills he was introducing in the entire South, if not the entire country among state legislators, including he was the author of the state's twenty six anti marriage equality amendment, the Marshall Newman amendment, which, by the way, we just took the first step to repealing and replacing with an actual affirmative right to marry this year.
So we have to pass that one more time next year in Virginia in the General Assembly. And then I'll go to the voters in a referendum on the following fall. But to say and to emphasize that in order to win state elections, you have to win local elections, too, because that's how not only you build your farm team, that's how you learn how to organize. That's how you actually put people out there in the first place who are able to collect data to put it into education.
But then to really understand how to run a campaign, you have to have that organization. You have to have the infrastructure they're willing to help. And that's what we need. And there are groups like Emergent America that trains Democratic women to run for office. I went through a merge Virginia's boot camp. There's the LGBTQ Victory Institute. They train LGBTQ candidates to run for office. I went through the Victory Institute's 20 16 training that November. And then sometimes you'll have your local organizations that train as well, like for me, the Democratic House caucus, the training, the twenty, fifteen and twenty thirteen Democratic nominees of the seat do a one day training, which was super cool.
But there's other organizations to Emily's List, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee run for something. All of these are groups that the National Democratic Candidate Training Group as well. All of these groups here exist in order to help candidates get on the ballot who actually share our values in the first place. And if your values are based on inclusiveness, on building up our infrastructure and start turning down each other, then these are people who can. Help you no one qualify for the ballot and to learn how to win elections and again, Miguel says a few times this election asked me how I know, how do you know?
I know because I went through it and I won and then I won again. And I just literally noon today, just an hour and forty five minutes ago, turned in my petition to qualify for the ballot this year. So I'll be on the ballot September 2nd.
So as we're making this as, as we're sort of fighting these fights at the state level, I think one you do see that as the public is shifting, the anti trends movement is kind of narrowing their focus and trying to and it's getting tighter and tighter. And now it's saying basically like we're just being pro girls sports that really we're not anti trans, we're pro girl and we're trying to really get the time out.
But not that for a second address this. Let it be. Let's do it. OK, so the same people who underfund girl sports, the same people who will promote the football program and then cut the girls volleyball program or arts or cut anything else that actually girls will in general participate in the first place. They're the ones who are trying to tell us that they're going to be the savior of girls sports. They're just they're so full of it. It's just, you know, their rhetoric absolutely does not match up.
And by the way, the same people who were opposing to the Equal Rights Amendment now trying to make themselves out to be the savior of girls sports. Oh, please. No, no, that's that's just not true.
You talk a little bit about how some of these anti trans measures would actually hurt girls sports and make it make it harder for girls to participate in sports.
Oh, my God. Let's just look at let's just look at the Thomasville amendment right that came up to the substitute version of the first version of the Cuban relief bill that just passed the Senate. If when you actually read the amendment and I did because I'm a legislator, it's what I do even on state level. I'll read federal legislation when I absolutely have to. So I did. And in reading this, they said that basically it is based on your genetic component, about your reproductive system.
There is nothing about birth certificates or anything they want. In essence, what Senator Tuberville was doing was he was going to have to subject every gender and transgender girl alike to invasive, invasive anatomical searches of their reproductive systems, presumably by adults, to see if they were female enough. I don't care where you fall on this issue. If you look at this and you go, I don't want some adult prodding, my child, that's terrible. That is objectively mortifying.
And here's the thing. Some people say, oh, they could do a cheek swab for DNA and stuff.
Here's where it gets interesting. What happens when you're starting dealing with intersex girls? What happens if you start dealing with girls who are just built a little bit differently? Right. Even if they're cis gender. And when you actually look at how short sighted, mean spirited and ill thought out this amendment was, the consequences of what they were doing is horrific beyond what they even knew they were doing to start with. In the second part on this is they are asking themselves and they were asking the states to violate other existing existing federal law.
And so how are they supposed to they're going to restrict money from from states and schools that are doing it right. More than a dozen states right now already have trans inclusive policies. So let us who are doing this right? Let us continue doing what's working. And other states should be emulating what we're doing instead of regressing into discrimination.
You may want to come back to these sort of two points that you made. What is around this? And it does seem like what they're really saying is, let's target any girls, any any adults subjectively decide. Doesn't look my definition of feminine. Right. That seems to be like one piece of this. And you also said that basically trying to protect trans kids by making sure that there were these non gendered school uniforms. And it seems to me that like we're in this fight right now, which is for trans people, but also at the beginning of a larger fight about gender itself and the salience of gender in our culture.
And that seems to scare conservatives. They seem to be genuinely scared about it. We spend although they're not.
No, no, they're not. Now in the same way that they were really scared about marriage equality.
Right now, it's not that well, they want people to be scared about it, I should say.
You want the politicians who we're talking about who are doing this. They're looking for money and they're looking for votes. Do you think they would give a damn about this if they're if they didn't think that it was going to be good for their fundraising or was going to be a good Twitter moment for them or get them on Fox News or whatever right wing media publication of your choice? Oh, no, of course not. They're trying to be as inflammatory as possible because they think it's in their own self-interest.
This is how they work and they don't really care if it means that they have to target their own constituents and hurt children and exploit children for political gain. They'll do it if it thinks that it's going to help their careers. That's where we're looking at. This is the same playbook that they used that Karl Rove used during the Bush administration when they were engineering all the anti marriage, all the anti marriage equality amendments that were up on the ballots in 2004 and five and six.
Right. So when you look at the history of this, we've seen this playbook before. The issue is that chances are a lot more people know gay people or bisexual people in their lives, more so than they know trans people in their lives, because we make up a significantly smaller percentage of the population where we're zero point six to one point two percent of the population, depending on your numbers. And so very often for me, I'm the first out trans person someone knows they have met.
They've met others. They just don't know that. But when I'm at the door so, you know, the funny thing is I've knocked thousands of doors of my campaigns or more than 30 local town halls. I am very present in what I do. I can count on one hand how many times people have mentioned train stop at the doors in a discriminatory, like, negative way. I really can when people even the few occasions when people do talk about trans stuff, it's usually, oh, my kids trans.
This person I know is trans or I have a colleague. They are they themselves are they want to tell me a story. Right. And that's fine. But what do people when I'm knocking on doors, you know, I don't ever see someone go Danica, if only for cheating. It was more regressive towards trans people where we finally be able to fix it. Right. That's not how it goes.
Now, end up with a plan on what they want politicians to take care of their commutes. And by the way, my plan for fixer at twenty eight is in front of the Commonwealth Transportation Board. Hopefully we can get money for later this year.
Look, I remember I remember that your campaign was on was on fixing roads, but I was what I was trying to get out though is like I know that as a gay person, like just you spent so much time fighting political fights about why you're not bad. That's so little time is spent on why being gay is not just worth tolerating, but is wonderful and contributes and and brings like, wonderful things to our culture in our society. And so, you know, as we think about this trans fight and the fight for trans people and trans lives, like when you think about a trans kid right now watching these fights unfold, how do you communicate to them?
Not just that we're fighting to prove that there's no threat, there's nothing wrong with being trans, but that trans people are wonderful and good and contribute something important to our world worth protecting.
John, when the day I won my first campaign in November 7th, twenty seventeen, I got to the Prince William County Democratic Committee's victory party pretty late that night. I had been held up at a different victory party and as soon as I got out of the car, there was a ten year old transferral named Claire, who was in the parking lot. And I had known her throughout the whole campaign going back to that January. And it was now November seven.
The first thing that I did was I picked up Claire, I looked her dead in the eye and I told her, honey, you can be whatever you want to be. You can be president because we just run this campaign and you just help make it happen. She has just as much right to chase her dreams and to be who she is and to be that well, in her words, it's the same as any other person. And I have a sticker that I keep outside my door, actually, pen I keep outside of my my door in Richmond where it says my tranz is beautiful.
And this is one of those things where as Democrats, we tend to say, no matter what you look like, where you come from, how you worship, if you do who you love or in this case, who you were born to be, that you should be able to succeed because of who you are, not despite it not for a discriminatory politician. Still, you're supposed to be you be you better than anyone else ever could because you're the only person who can be you.
And if you're in one of these states where you're having these fights and you have to stand up and fight for your rights in this, we had to do that in Virginia. I drove down to the Virginia General Assembly four times in twenty sixteen to fight nine anti LGBTQ bills. And I spent 16 months leading, spearheading an effort along with our former school board chairman, Ryan Sawyers, to get the Prince William County School Board to include sexual orientation and gender identity in their nondiscrimination policy.
16 month bruising fight that we wanted to five to three vote. And you don't want to happen. The three people who voted against it ended up losing their next election, even though at the time, like so many hundreds of people were saying the worst things you could imagine on camera into a microphone saying that gay and trans kids were abominations, who are Damboa Dan by God. And then one of the actually elected Republican officials are one of the county supervisors not applauding them for doing it.
I know, because I sat right behind her, watch her do it. And the same person who then, by the way, named me in front of my stepdaughter. So I was like a class act, but we had to win a lot of policy fights and we had to really want a lot of elections here in order to secure that safety net protection. And so for people in other states, look at the model that we set in Virginia.
Twenty sixteen, twenty seventeen eighteen point nineteen. You can follow that model. And here's the thing. I can't just tell someone to get up and leave their state and come to Virginia because they might not have the money, they might not have the means, they might not have the ability to come here. And if they leave, then who's left to fight? Right. And at the same time, if it does get to be too much, if you put your heart in it, if it's too dangerous, if your family is being threatened, whatever it is, please know that the people of the city of Manassas Park and the Prince William County, portions of Haymarket, Gainesville in Manassas that I represent, we will welcome you here because of who you are.
And here in Virginia, especially here in Northern Virginia, we celebrate you. So please, by all means, anyone who like to come to Virginia regardless or because of your identifiers. Welcome. We're glad you're here. And I just want to know how I can serve you.
Dannica Room, thank you so much. Thank you. I was supposed to plug my associates and stuff, so if you want to do that.
Yeah, yeah I can do. I can just do it. Yeah. Tell me whatever you need. Whatever you want. Yes.
Or so at Twitter at P W.S. Danica. I see Facebook. Danica from Virginia delegate and you can find me on ActBlue type in Danica. Oh that's always a great, great place to stop by. And my website is Delegate Danica, thank you so much.
Cheers. Thanks to Danica room for joining us today, and we'll talk to you guys later. Positive of America is a crooked media production, the executive producer is Michael Martinez, our associate producer is Jordan Waller. It's mixed and edited by Andrew Chadwick.
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