If only people in Washington would work together, compromise and make a deal that actually helps the country.

First published in October 2021.

Back when I worked in the Reagan Administration, Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldrige, my boss, would say of the then-right wing of the Republican Party: “They like to look good losing.”

That’s because those folks would have rather died on the battlefield clinging to their most extreme beliefs than compromise with the moderates in the party, or the Democrats.

Today, the same can be said in the Democratic Party. Progressives are holding any compromise hostage while they cling, at least publicly, to their $3.5 trillion package of spending and programs to revamp American society. Every day we read about the “talks” within the Democratic Party to try to find a compromise on the package that would likely be anywhere from $1.5 trillion to $2.5 trillion. Republicans have opted out of negotiating at all because they want nothing to do in any way with “helping” Democrats. Their eyes are not on legislating but on winning next year’s elections.

Progressives in the Democratic Party were known as “liberals” in my day but changed the label, I guess, because “progressive” sounds more acceptable.

For those of us not inside the Democratic talks, we have no idea what’s really being discussed. We just know that the progressives spokesmen are clinging to $3.5 trillion awaiting on Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Krysten Sinema of Arizona to tell them what they really want to support the package.

You gotta believe both Manchin and Sinema have laid out their needs/wants clearly to at least the White House.

This eventually will get settled, I believe, partly to show that Democrats left on their own, can get things done. Especially before next year’s mid-term election when, at the moment, the odds are they will lose both majorities they hold in the House and the Senate.

What they are succeeding in doing now is helping in the collapse of belief in President Joe Biden to get anything done. He’s down to his lowest approval ratings since he’s been President (also attributable to the continuing too-high numbers of deaths and cases of COVID, a mucked up withdrawal from Afghanistan, a border issue that doesn’t appear to be getting better, etc).

If the Democrats don’t come up with a compromise that helps (1) the people, (2) their own continued majority aspirations and (3) to boost Biden’s numbers, get ready for the country to go Republican in next year’s mid-terms and potentially in the next presidential election, potentially pushing us to the edge of the end of our democracy. And I don’t think that’s hyperbole.

This all while Trump holds rallies where he rails against Biden and lies about the last election (which has Republicans by a vast majority agreeing with him).

Trust me, I can handle Republicans back in power but not Republicans like Trump, or Cruz or Johnson, Republicans who sound like they oppose democracy too often, whether they know it or not. Republicans who refuse to admit how the last election went. If they can succeed while believing the Democrats stole the election, nothing is beyond their capability.

Trump, who continues to have no limits on what he says rails against Biden even for policies he (Trump) established in his administration and Biden continued. Among those: development of a safe COVID vaccine (the last time he mentioned the vaccine at a rally, he got booed. That was the last time he mentioned it rather than take credit for the rapid development of the vaccine to save lives); and, the withdrawal from Afghanistan. Remember when Trump wanted to bring the Taliban to Camp David for a signing ceremony? That war needed to be over and Trump set that in motion with Biden finishing the job.

The world, my friends, is upside down.

I am among the millions who would benefit from adding vision, dental and hearing to Medicare, as the progressives propose. I never understood why, when we hit the ages where those three areas are most needed, that they weren’t included.

But, I think most of us on Medicare would pass on those benefits and instead get child care straightened out so mothers can get back to work and help get our economy moving.

There are acceptable tradeoffs in that $3.5 trillion package.

If only people in Washington would work together, compromise and make a deal that actually helps the country.

PMP Magazine


B. Jay Cooper, former deputy White House press secretary to Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.


[This piece was originally published in The Screaming Moderate and re-published in PMP Magazine on 14 October 2021, with the author’s consent. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]

(Cover: Flickr/The White House. - President Joe Biden. | 19 August 2021. / Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)

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