Opinion | White House

The Democrats' three-legged stool

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill

We are not the only ones who use Thanksgiving as an opportunity to reflect on the past year - the good, the bad and the ugly. And it has been a tough year, with many ups and downs on both a personal and professional level for us. 

But one thing that unequivocally has been a bright spot in the past year was that Democrats took charge of the White House, the House of Representatives and the Senate. It certainly hasn't been perfect - we are not Pollyannas - but there is so much for which to be thankful that never would have been delivered under a Republican administration. 

We can explain it simply. Imagine your house was struck by lightning. What would you do? Would you rebuild it just as it was, with the same dripping faucet in the bathroom, leaky roof, or sticking door? Would you choose new guest room wallpaper as faded as the old, and ignore the outdated wiring that transformed a lightning strike into a house fire?

Of course, you wouldn't. No one would restore former faults. You'd "build back better."

That's exactly what the House did by voting to pass President Biden's Build Back Better Act, which Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) aptly described as the "third leg of a three-legged stool." The legislation - combined with the American Rescue Plan and the bipartisan infrastructure bill - could reimagine our nation as we can be, not simply as we are.

"The Build Back Better Act will repair some longstanding faults, many of which have been exacerbated by COVID-19 and our feckless early response to it," Clyburn said. "The coronavirus pandemic didn't just cause great harm for some; it exposed great harm that existed for far too long, denying far too many of our citizens access to America's greatness."

Biden's Build Back Better Framework is historic in its own right, including:

  • $555 billion to fight climate change;

  • $400 billion for universal Pre-K;

  • $200 billion to extend the child tax credit;

  • $200 billion to fully fund paid family leave;
  • $165 billion to close the Medicaid health care gap; and

  • $150 billion to build 1 million rental and single-family homes.

Now imagine how that can build upon the American Rescue Plan Act, which, signed by the president in March, took immediate action to stop the bleeding and bring relief to people still devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Multiply that impact by the landmark Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed last week, with watershed investments not only to fix roads and bridges, repair rail lines, deepen harbors and provide long-awaited broadband access to neighborhoods and households, but also to create 1.5 million jobs each year for 10 years. For anyone who's counting, that's 15 million good-paying jobs. We currently have almost 7.5 million Americans who are unemployed.

This isn't just a series of piecemeal promises or political maneuvers, nor simply a bid for news-cycle infamy or historical footnote. And it's not a Democratic vision or a Republican vision, even if it is the Democrats who put the plan into practice. 

This can be considered an American vision - which is exactly what we need at Thanksgiving. 

That said, the state of the nation is not all good news. Americans are grappling with inflation that just hit a 31-year high. Prices have increased 6.2 percent over the past 12 months, and most Americans say the price of groceries and gas qualifies as a crisis. While President Biden ordered the Department of Energy to release 50 million barrels of oil from strategic reserves, to try to offset high gas prices, that won't alleviate the pain for long, considering U.S. oil usage is roughly 20 million barrels per day.

These are very real pain points for the American people and no doubt factored into the dismal showing for Democrats on election night this month in Virginia. But, regarding supply chain issues that also have been hurting Americans, we were heartened to hear from Walmart's CEO that "The combination of private enterprise and government working together has been really successful." He added, "I would like to give the administration credit for helping get the ports open 24 hours a day. All through the supply chain there has been a lot of innovation." And the CEO of Etsy, Josh Silverman, which represents over 5 million small businesses, offers a similarly rosy perspective: "This holiday season, we believe that Etsy sellers are well-positioned to meet customer demand. Our survey data says they are less concerned about supply chain challenges this year than they were last year."

Hopefully, inflation can be reined in and the Build Back Better plan will get through the Senate relatively intact so that we can experience the very real, positive effects on the American economy.  

In the meantime, this Thanksgiving we are paying attention to how remarkable it is that in less than a year in office, President Biden has overseen three tremendous pieces of legislation to benefit average Americans. With all three legs of the stool together, we are looking at the potential for a truly seminal presidency to transform the fundamentals of American society. How exciting! 

Jessica Tarlov is head of research at Bustle Digital Group and a Fox News contributor. She earned her Ph.D. at the London School of Economics in political science. Follow her on Twitter @JessicaTarlov.

Antjuan Seawright is a Democratic political strategist, founder and CEO of Blueprint Strategy LLC, a CBS News political contributor, and a senior visiting fellow at Third Way. Follow him on Twitter @antjuansea.