Economics/Class Relations

“If you’re used to getting punched in the face with both hands, this is progress”

Recent developments in the national railroad strike that was taking shape earlier this week are a good reminder that the Democratic Party is no substitute for a workers’ party in the United States — and that, even led by a president less outright hostile to the cause of labor than our last one, Democrats side with their interests in capital.

If you heard about the forthcoming strike in the news over the past couple of days, you likely heard that it would “cripple the supply chain.” In other words, the focus has been placed on the negative effect that a strike would have on consumers and businesses. Interestingly, though, we haven’t seen enough focus on the issue at the heart of the negotiations: the workers’ demand for paid sick leave, which they’ve been denied, before and during COVID. After long talks between unions and management — during which Biden joined a call to emphasize how devastating a strike would be — a tentative deal was reached, one that will protect workers from being punished for taking sick time and provide a single extra sick day a year, as well as other benefits, like a pay raise.

Our guest this week, Ryan Grim, has given us a great line to help us think about how the Biden admin has positioned itself on major issues like labor and climate, offering some improvements (e.g. through climate funding) while continuing to uphold an establishment status quo that is hostile to the working class. “If you’re used to getting punched in the face with both hands, this is progress.” We look at how this sentiment applies to the Democrats’ overarching approach to governing and policymaking as we near the midterms, where big losses could very well loom for Dems in the absence of significant efforts like the child tax credit, fighting for some version of the promised public option, and more.

If they maintain their hold in Congress, Democrats could technically undertake popular projects like the codification of Roe, saving different public programs proposed in the original Build Back Better, and more. Technically! We’ll keep thinking and talking about where their agenda lies, whether they’ll pull it off in the midterms, and what that means for working people in this country over the next few years. We hope you enjoy the conversation.

Remember that this episode will be available tomorrow on Spotify, Pandora, Apple Podcasts, and more. Thanks for tuning in!

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