Republican response to Build Back Better? Rhymes with ‘Let’s go Brandon.’

By Dana Milbank, Washington Post Columnist, Oct 29, 2021.

At 7:30 Thursday morning, White House officials rolled out President Biden’s roughly $1.75 trillion framework to cut taxes for ordinary Americans and make it easier for them to afford health care and housing, send their kids to prekindergarten and college, and adopt clean new power for their homes and cars.

An hour later came the Republican response, from the office of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. It was succinct and to the point: “F— Joe Biden.”

Technically, the message, a tweet from McConnell press secretary Doug Andres, showed a photo of a roadside sign that said “Let’s go Brandon.” For the uninitiated, that’s a MAGA meme in which the phrase stands for the slightly homophonous “F— Joe Biden.” It’s a way to flip the bird at the president “without running afoul of technology censors,” as the right-wing Washington Times put it.

The substitute phrase has been chanted at rallies for Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin; used by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), Republican Reps. Bill Posey of Florida (on the House floor) and Jim Banks of Indiana, and Donald Trump Jr.; and, on Thursday, adopted by the former president himself. He offered “Let’s Go Brandon” T-shirts for those sending at least $45 to his grifter organization Save America.

Think about that.

Democrats clear the way for passage of a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that will provide broadband Internet and lead-free drinking water to every American, and better roads, bridges and ports for all to enjoy. And Republicans reply: Let’s go Brandon.

Democrats coalesce around a plan to raise taxes on those making more than $10 million a year, to crack down on tax cheating by the richest fraction of 1 percent of Americans and to make sure Fortune 500 companies can no longer pay zero in taxes. And Republicans reply: Let’s go Brandon.

Could the contrast be any greater? Half of America’s leaders are trying to govern, and the other half are hurling vulgarities.

By the administration’s calculations, the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better plan combined would add nothing — zip! zero! nada! — to the federal deficit. Yet Republicans, after approving nearly $8 trillion in new debt under Donald Trump, now howl about reckless spending.

Biden’s plan, the White House says, would not require anybody earning under $400,000 a year to pay a penny more in taxes, and it imposes a minimum tax only on businesses earning more than $1 billion a year in profits. It goes after profitable corporations that pay nothing, hedge fund managers who dodge taxes and businesses that hide money overseas. This is a crackdown on tax cheating by the filthy rich — and the GOP stands with the tax cheats.

If Democrats succeed in enacting both the infrastructure and Build Back Better bills, they should lean into this juxtaposition in next year’s midterms:

Do voters want a competently governed America with better airports and a reliable power grid? An America where parents can afford childcare, old folks can get hearing aids and all tots can go to free pre-K?

Or do they want an unstable America of ill-mannered insults, conspiracy theories, rageful attacks on educators, irrational opposition to lifesaving vaccinations, ham-handed attempts to suppress voting, and extreme abortion bans without exceptions for rape or incest?

On Wednesday, the day before Biden rolled out his framework, Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal — once an honorable voice of conservatism — published a letter from Trump repeating the fiction that Biden’s 2020 victory was “rigged.”

Also Wednesday, Fox News’s star host, Tucker Carlson, teased his “documentary” promoting the lie that the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection was a “false flag” operation orchestrated by Biden.

Republican lawmakers responded to Biden’s rollout Thursday with the usual name-calling: Liar! Socialism! Green New Deal!

Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.) called it “class warfare” that would “crush small business.” (How many small businesses have $1 billion in annual profits?)

Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Ill.) tweeted that it would “raise taxes on working families.” (Shed a tear for those “working families” earning more than $10 million annually!)

Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) claimed Biden is “bankrupting Americans.” (By reducing the deficit?)

The National Republican Campaign Committee released ads this week targeting 15 Democrats, falsely saying the plan would let the IRS “spy on your bank account.” (There is no such proposal; as The Post’s Jeff Stein noted, requirements that banks report large transactions were removed from the bill.)

And House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) suggested that Republicans are so angry about Build Back Better that they would vote against the bipartisan infrastructure bill, too — even though, he admitted, “America needs infrastructure.”

Voting against what America needs, and Republicans support, out of spite?

There’s a name for that, and it almost rhymes with “Let’s go Brandon.” It’s the GOP’s governing agenda.

 Image Credits: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

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