Robert Reich's Blog

The GOP reveals itself to be the anti-family party

Last Thursday, 39 million American parents began receiving a monthly child allowance ($300 per child under 6, and $250 per child from 6 through 17). It's the biggest helping hand to American families in more than 85 years.

They need it. Even before the pandemic, child poverty had reached post-war records. Even non-poor families were in trouble, burdened with deepening debt and missed payments. Most were living paycheck to paycheck – so if they lost a job, they and their kids could be plunged into poverty. It's estimated that the new monthly child allowance will cut child poverty by more than half.

But every single Republican in both the House and Senate voted against the measure.

After I posted a tweet reminding people of this indisputable fact, Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah responded Friday with a perfectly bizarre tweet: "If you're one of the 39 million households receiving their first Child Tax Credit payment today, don't forget that every single Democrat voted against making it larger."

Hello? Did we just go through the funhouse mirror?

In point of fact, when the American Rescue Plan was being debated last February, Lee and Senator Marco Rubio did propose slightly larger payments. But here's the rub: They wanted to restrict them only to "working parents." Children of the unemployed would be out of luck. Yet those kids are the poorest of the poor. They're most at risk of being hungry without a roof over their heads.

In a joint press release at the time, Lee and Rubio said they refused to support what they termed "welfare assistance" to jobless parents, warning against undercutting "the responsibility of parents to work to provide for their families." Then Lee, Rubio, and every other Republican voted against the whole shebang – help for working and non-working parents. And now Lee wants to take credit for wanting to make the payments larger to begin with? Talk about both sides of the mouth.

As we move toward the gravitational pull of the midterm elections – and polls show how popular the monthly child payments are – I expect other Republicans to make the same whopper of a claim.

But underneath this hypocritical Republican rubbish lie two important questions. The first: will a payment of up to $300 per child every month – totaling up to $3,600 per child per year – invite parents to become couch potatoes?

That seems doubtful. Even a family with three kids under six would receive no more than $10,800 a year. That's way below what's needed to pay even subsistence expenses, and still far below what a full-time job at the federal minimum wage would pull in.

But even if the payment caused some parents to work a bit less, it's far from clear their children are worse off as a result. Maybe they benefit from additional parenting time.

Which only raises a second question: should children be penalized because their parents aren't working, or are working less than they would without the child payment?

This question has been debated in America for many years – ever since Franklin D. Roosevelt first provided "Aid for Families with Dependent Children" (AFDC) in the Social Security Act of 1935.

It can't be decided based on facts; it comes down to values. We know, for example, that child poverty soared after Bill Clinton and congressional Republicans ended AFDC in 1996 and substituted a work requirement. Many people – myself included – look back on that decision as a horrible mistake.

But many of its proponents call it a success because it resulted in additional numbers of poor adults getting jobs and thereby setting good examples for their children of personal responsibility. In the view of these proponents, a country where more parents take responsibility to provide for their children is worth the collateral damage of a greater number of impoverished children.

Since the 1990s, the Republican view that public assistance should be limited to families with breadwinners has taken firm hold in America. Only now, with the American Rescue Plan – put into effect during the worst public health crisis in more than a century and one of the fiercest periods of unemployment since World War II – has that view been rejected in favor of a universal family benefit.

It's too early to know whether this about-face is permanent. The Act's payments will end a year from now unless Congress passes Biden's proposed $3.5 trillion addition. Almost every Senate Democrat has signaled a willingness to go along. But here again, not a single Senate Republican has signed on.

Let's be clear. Mike Lee's Republican Party – the putative party of "family values" – doesn't support needy families. It supports a pinched and, in these perilous times, unrealistic view of personal responsibility – children be damned.

How Joe Manchin responded to Biden's thinly veiled criticism

Sunday morning, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin announced in the Charleston Gazette-Mail that he's a "no" on the For the People Act – and a no for ending the filibuster.

This is a direct in-your-eye response to President Biden's thinly-veiled criticism of Manchin last Tuesday in Tulsa.

If it means the end of the For the People Act, it would open the way for Republican-dominated states to continue their shameless campaign to suppress the votes of likely Democratic voters – using Trump's baseless claims of voter fraud as pretext. That's the beginning of the end of American democracy as we know it.

Manchin's support for extending the John Lewis Voting Rights Act to all fifty states is better than nothing, but it would depend on an activist Justice Department willing to block state changes in voting laws that suppress votes, and an activist Supreme Court willing to uphold such Justice Department decisions.

Don't bet on either. We know what happened to the Justice Department under Trump, and we know what's happened to the Supreme Court.

So without Manchin, is the For the People Act dead? Probably, unless Biden can convince one Republican senator to join him in supporting it.

Would Mitt Romney or Lisa Murkowski or Susan Collins be willing to do so and buck the voter-suppressing, Trump-dominated GOP? Or will history record that Republican senators were more united in their opposition to democracy than Democratic senators are in their support for it?

The optimist in me says Romney will do it because he's an institutionalist who's appalled the authoritarianism that Trump has unleashed in the GOP. The cynical realist in me says no way.

Robert Reich: Why the PRO Act is critical

Something I've just learned about Amazon – one of America's most profitable and fastest-growing corporations, headed by the richest man in the world:

According to the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Amazon warehouse workers sustained nearly double the rate of serious injury incidents last year as did workers in non-Amazon warehouses.

In addition, largely because Amazon failed to provide its workers adequate protective equipment during the pandemic, the corporation admits that nearly 20,000 employees were presumed positive for the coronavirus.

Workers who spoke out about these unsafe workplace conditions were fired.

Amazon boasts of paying its workers at least $15 an hour. But that comes to about $30,000 a year, hardly enough for a family to get by on.

The explosive growth of Amazon's army of poorly-paid and ill-treated hourly workers is emblematic of the long-term decline of America's middle class and levels of economic inequality America hasn't seen since the late nineteenth century's Gilded Age.

This has strained the social fabric of the nation – fueling anger and frustration, a rising tide of drug overdoses and deaths of despair, even tempting some working-class people to embrace Trumpism and white nationalism.

The success of Amazon's "shock and awe" campaign against workers who dared try to bring a union to their Bessemer, Alabama warehouse exemplifies the immense political power the architects of this growing inequality now wield.

It's an alarming omen of the future.

In Amazon warehouses like Bessemer, workers are treated like robots. Algorithms relentlessly impose dangerous production quotas. They get two 30-minute breaks each ten-hour day. Every movement is monitored.

Amazon delivery drivers report being instructed to turn off their safety apps so they can meet their quotas.

Others report having to urinate into bottles because of delivery timing pressures.

Even though public support for unions is as high as it's been in 50 years – 60 million American workers would join a union today if they could – Bessemer workers were outgunned by a behemoth whose market capitalization exceeds Australia's GDP.

The National Labor Relations Act makes it illegal for employers to fire workers for trying to organize a union. But the penalties employees for violating the Act are so laughably small (rehiring the worker and providing back pay) that employers like Amazon routinely do it anyway.

Amazon may be the future of the American economy, but if that future is to have room for the kind of prosperous working families that fifty years ago defined American capitalism, unions are critical.

In March, the House of Representatives passed legislation designed to level the field. It's called the Protect the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act). The Senate version has 47 Democratic co-sponsors. It needs three more to give the PRO Act a fighting chance of getting to Joe Biden's desk.

The PRO Act would end many of the practices Amazon used to defeat the union effort in Bessemer. Real penalties would be imposed on companies and corporate officers who retaliate against union advocates or otherwise violate the National Labor Relations Act.

The PRO Act would make it easier for workers to form a union, with the aim of protecting them from unfair working conditions.

The PRO Act alone won't end economic inequality or return prosperity and opportunity to America's working families. But passage of the PRO Act would help.

It would also send a clear signal that ours is truly a government "of the people" – such as the million people who work for Amazon today, not the one multi-billionaire at the top, and of the vast majority of Americans who are working harder than ever today and getting nowhere, in America's Second Gilded Age.

The unchecked power of police unions

Police unions abuse collective bargaining to shield their members from accountability for the killings of unarmed Black people and other heinous misconduct. No progress can be made without reining in the unchecked power of police unions.

Look, I was Secretary of Labor. I'm in favor of unions. But police unionizing can have deadly consequences.

One study found that extending collective bargaining rights to Florida sheriffs' offices led to an estimated 40 percent increase in violent police misconduct.

Another study found that the protections built into the police union contracts in America's 100 largest cities were significantly correlated with the killing of unarmed civilians.

Another study suggests that the increase in police unionization from the 1950s through the 1980s resulted in "about 60 to 70" additional civilians killed by police each year — the majority of whom were people of color.

Experts believe the protections in police union contracts give too many officers the sense they can abuse their power.

Police contracts often have provisions allowing departments to erase disciplinary records within a few years, enabling officers with histories of misconduct to clear their records.

Others allow accused officers to access their investigative files before being questioned, letting them manipulate their story. Others set strict time limits for citizens to file complaints about officers; some prevent anonymous complaints from being investigated at all.

All these provisions allow officers with histories of misconduct to stay on the force.

Derek Chauvin, for instance, had at least 17 complaints lodged against him, and never faced any discipline beyond two letters of reprimand. Needless to say, other public sector employees are not afforded these extraordinary protections.

Even if an officer is fired, there's an extensive appeals process that usually works out in their favor.

In Philadelphia, 62 percent of officers fired from 2006 to 2017 were reinstated. In San Antonio, 70 percent were. When New York police officer Daniel Pantaleo was finally fired, five years after choking Eric Garner to death, the NYPD's largest union responded by threatening a work slowdown.

Police unions fight cities that enact even mild reforms, like establishing civilian review boards. The result? Review boards are notoriously ineffective by design.

Some police union contracts with cities forbid them even creating a review board. In the tragic case of Breonna Taylor, Louisville's review board could not start an investigation, take complaints from citizens, or recommend discipline for the officers. All it could do was make recommendations for policy or training changes.

It's the same in other cities: oversight boards have no investigative power, no subpoena power, and no discipline power.

Police unions also wield enormous political clout. A Guardian investigation found police unions spent about $87 million influencing state and local legislation over the past two decades, and at least $47.3 million on campaign contributions and lobbying at the federal level. In 2017, police unions spent $2 million to influence legislation in California alone.

Now, don't get me wrong. Stopping the abuses of police unions must not become a stalking horse for attacking public sector unions generally. But the unchecked powers of police unions urgently need to be addressed.

To start, lawmakers must change state labor laws to restrict the subjects police unions can bargain over.

They should limit negotiations to pay and benefits, not how police do their jobs, how and when they use force, and how and when they are disciplined.

For decades, police unions have shielded officers from accountability, bullied cities into doing their bidding, and attacked lawmakers who took them on. It's past time to ensure they can no longer block accountability under the guise of collective bargaining.

The greatest danger to American democracy is not coming from inside the House

The greatest danger to American democracy right now is not coming from Russia, China, or North Korea. It is coming from the Republican Party.

Only 25 percent of voters self-identify as Republican, the GOP's worst showing against Democrats since 2012 and sharply down since last November. But those who remain in the Party are far angrier, more ideological, more truth-denying, and more racist than Republicans who preceded them.

And so are the lawmakers who represent them.

Today's Republican Party increasingly is defined not by its shared beliefs but by its shared delusions.

Last Friday, 54 U.S. senators voted in favor of proceeding to debate a House-passed bill to establish a commission to investigate the causes and events of the January 6th insurrection. This was 6 votes short of the number of votes needed for "cloture," or stopping debate – meaning any further consideration of the bill would have been filibustered by Republicans indefinitely.

So there will be no investigation.

The 54 Senators who voted yes to cloture – in favor of the commission – represent 189 million Americans, or 58% of the American population. The 35 who voted no represent 104 million Americans, or 32% of the population.

In other words, 32% of American voters got to decide that the nation would not know about what happened to American democracy on January 6.

Furthermore, the 35 who voted against the commission were all Republicans. They did not want such an inquiry because it might jeopardize their chances of gaining a majority of the House or Senate in the 2022 midterm elections. They also wanted to stay in the good graces of Donald Trump, whose participation in that insurrection might have been more fully revealed.

Eight of these Republicans voted against certifying Joe Biden as president on January 6. Some of their constituents were responsible for the insurrection in the first place.

The Republican Party is also pursuing new laws in many states making it harder for likely Democrats to vote and opposing voting reforms in Congress.

It is actively purging any Republican who has temerity to criticize Trump. They have removed from her leadership position Liz Cheney, who called Trump's efforts to overturn the election and his role in inciting the deadly Jan. 6 riot the greatest "betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution."

Local Republicans leaders have either stepped down or been forced out of their party positions for not supporting Trump's baseless election claims or for criticizing the former president's role in inciting the deadly Capitol riot.

American democracy is at an inflection point.

Senate Democrats must get rid of the filibuster and push through major reforms – voting rights, as well as policies that will enable more Americans in the bottom half – most of them without college educations, many of whom cling to the Republican Party – to do better.

In the 1930s, Franklin D. Roosevelt noted that the survival of American democracy depended on the adoption of policies that comprised the New Deal. In that Depression decade, democracy was under siege around the world, and dictators were on the rise.

Joe Biden understands that America and the world face a similar challenge. And like FDR, Biden is making a strong case that the adoption of his policies will buttress democracy against the forces of tyranny, not only as an example to the rest of the world but here at home.

Trump's accomplices in the 'big lie' are getting away with it — and the media is letting them

At the risk of being the skunk at the picnic, I feel compelled to warn you that if we forget and move on from the tragedies of this past year, we're setting ourselves on a dangerous path. Of course I understand the desire to forget all the unpleasantness and start a new chapter. But if we do, we're inviting greater tragedies in the future.

Let me remind you: Donald Trump lied about the results of the last election. And then – you remember, don't you? – he tried to overturn the results.

Trump twisted the arms of state election officials. He held a rally to stop Congress from certifying the election, followed by the violent attack on the Capitol. Five people died. Senators and representatives could have been slaughtered.

Several Republican members of Congress encouraged the attempted coup by joining him in the big lie and refusing to certify the election — even after the mob desecrated the halls of our democracy.

This was in January of this year, yet we seem to be doing everything we can to blot it out of our memory. Meanwhile, those responsible for instigating the attack haven't been held accountable in any respect — including by the media.

The Washington Post hosted a live video chat with Missouri Republican senator Josh Hawley, a ringleader in the attempt to overturn the results of the election. Hawley had even made a fist-pump gesture toward the mob at the Capitol before the attack.

But the Post billed the interview as being about Hawley's new book on big tech. It even posted a biography of Hawley that made no mention of Hawley's sedition, referring instead to his supposed reputation "for taking on the big and the powerful to protect Missouri workers" and as "a fierce defender of the Constitution."

CBS This Morning interviewed Florida Republican Rick Scott, another senator who tried to overturn the election by not certifying the results. But there was no mention of his sedition, either. The CBS interviewer confined his questions to Biden's spending plans, which Scott unsurprisingly opposed.

Senators Ted Cruz and Ron Johnson and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy also repeatedly appear on major news programs without being questioned about their attempts to undo the results of the election, or their continued promotion of Trump's lies.

The media is supposed to serve as a crucial check on those in power. But in its breathless desire to cover the "news" it is failing to remind us of our recent past.

The consequences of this failure are dire.

Trump's big lie that the 2020 election was stolen, and that President Biden is not legitimate, is not disappearing. A majority of Republican voters believe him.

That big lie is being used by Republican state legislatures to justify an all-out assault on the right to vote.

Hours after Florida enacted new voting restrictions, Texas's Republican-led legislature pushed ahead with its own bill that would make it one of the hardest states in which to cast a ballot.

The Republican-controlled Arizona Senate launched a private recount of the 2020 presidential election results in Maricopa County – farming out 2.1 million ballots to GOP partisans with no experience in ballot counting or election monitoring. At least one person involved in the recount participated in the Capitol attack.

The Republican Party even purged one of its leaders, Wyoming representative Liz Cheney, for telling the truth about the election.

Meanwhile, Republican state legislatures are muscling their way into election administration, as they attempt to dislodge or bully local election officials who have always run our voting systems.

Trump's big lie will continue to flourish unless the lawmakers who went along with it and have failed to renounce it face real consequences.

That means no book promotions, no cushy interviews, no guest op-eds in the Sunday paper.

What possible excuse is there for booking them if they have not publicly retracted their election lies? If they must appear, they should be asked if they continue to deny the election results and precisely why.

It also means a thorough independent 9-11 type inquiry into what happened, whether members of Congress were involved, how Donald Trump and others were involved.

Republican leaders must not duck this. History is watching.

They must be held accountable to the truth. Otherwise the trauma of 2020 will return — perhaps in even more terrifying form.

The secret tax loophole making the rich even richer

How do we prevent America from becoming an aristocracy, while also funding the programs that Americans desperately need?

One way is to get rid of a tax loophole you've probably never heard of. It's known as the "stepped-up basis" rule.

Here's how the stepped-up-basis loophole now works. Take a man named Jeff. At his death, Jeff owns $30 million-worth of stocks he originally bought for a total of $10 million. Under existing law, neither Jeff nor his heirs would owe federal tax on the $20 million of gains because they're automatically "stepped up" to their value when he dies — $30 million.

Under Biden's proposal, Jeff's $20 million of gains would be taxed. And don't worry: Biden's proposal doesn't touch tax-favored retirement accounts, such as 401-Ks, and it only applies to the very richest Americans.

As it is now, the stepped-up basis loophole enables the super-rich, like Jeff, to avoid paying more than $40 billion in taxes each year. It has allowed them to skip taxes on the increased values of mansions and artworks as well as shares of stock.

In fact, it's one of the chief means by which dynastic wealth has grown and been passed from generation to generation, enabling subsequent generations to live off that growing wealth and never pay a dime of taxes on it.

Unless the stepped-up basis loophole is closed, we will soon have a large class of hugely rich people who have never worked a day in their lives.

Over the next decades, rich baby boomers will pass on an estimated $58 trillion of wealth to their millennial children — the largest intergenerational transfer of wealth in history.

Closing this giant tax loophole for the super-rich is how Biden intends to fund part of his American Families Plan, which would provide every child with 2 years of pre-school and every student with 2 years of free community college, as well as provide paid family and medical leave to every worker.

Close this stepped-up basis loophole, and we help finance the programs the vast majority of Americans desperately need and deserve. We also end the explosion of dynastic wealth. It should be a no-brainer.

The media is trying to let the GOP get away with the inexcusable

America prefers to look forward rather than back. We're a land of second acts. We move on.

This can be a strength. We don't get bogged down in outmoded traditions, old grudges, obsolete ways of thinking. We constantly reinvent. We love innovation and disruption.

The downside is a collective amnesia about what we've been though, and a corresponding reluctance to do anything about it or hold anyone accountable.

Now, with Covid receding and the economy starting to rebound – and the 2020 election and the attack on the Capitol behind us – the future looks bright.

But at the risk of being the skunk at the picnic, let me remind you:

We have lost more than 580,000 people to COVID-19. One big reason that number is so high is our former president lied about the virus and ordered his administration to minimize its danger.

He also lied about the results of the last election. And then – you remember, don't you? – he tried to overturn the results.

He twisted the arms of state election officials. He held a rally to stop Congress from certifying the election, followed by the violent attack on the Capitol. Five people died. Senators and representatives could have been slaughtered.

Several Republican members of Congress joined him in the big lie and refused to certify the election. They thereby encouraged the attempted coup.

This was just over four months ago, yet we seem to be doing everything we can to blot it out of our collective memory.

Last Tuesday, the Washington Post hosted a live video chat with Missouri Republican senator Josh Hawley, a ringleader in the attempt to overturn the results of the election. Hawley had even made a fist-pump gesture toward the mob at the Capitol before they attacked.

But the Post billed the interview as being about Hawley's new book on the "tyranny of big tech." It even posted a biography of Hawley that made no mention of Hawley's sedition, referring instead to his supposed reputation "for taking on the big and the powerful to protect Missouri workers," and as "a fierce defender of the Constitution."

Last week, "CBS This Morning" interviewed Florida Republican senator Rick Scott, another of the senators who tried to overturn the election by not certifying the results. But there was no mention of any of his sedition. The CBS interviewer confined his questions to Biden's spending plans, which Scott unsurprisingly opposed.

Senators Ted Cruz and Ron Johnson, and House minority leader Kevin McCarthy also repeatedly appear on major news programs without being questioned about their attempts to undo the results of the election.

What possible excuse is there for booking them if they have not publicly retracted their election lies? At the least, if they must appear, ask them if they continue to deny the election results and precisely why.

Pretending nothing happened promotes America's dangerous amnesia, which invites more attempts to distort the truth.

Trump is consolidating his power over the Republican Party, based on his big lie. The GOP is about to purge one of its leaders, Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney, for telling the truth.

The big lie is being used by Republican state legislatures to justify new laws to restrict voting. On Thursday, hours after Florida installed a rash of new voting restrictions, Texas's Republican-led Legislature pushed ahead with its a bill that would make it one of the hardest states in which to cast a ballot.

The Republican-controlled Arizona senate is mounting a private recount of the 2020 presidential election results in Maricopa County – farming out 2.1 million ballots to GOP partisans, including at least one who participated in the January 6 raid on the Capitol.

Last Monday, Trump even lied about his big lie, issuing a "proclamation" to co-opt the language of those criticizing the lie. "The Fraudulent Presidential Election of 2020 will be, from this day forth, known as the BIG LIE!" he wrote.

Most Republican voters believe him.

It is natural to want to put all this unpleasantness behind us. We are finally turning the corner on the pandemic and the economy.

Why look back to the trauma of the 2020 election? Because we cannot put it behind us. Trump's big lie and all that it has provoked are still with us. If we forget what has occurred the trauma will return, perhaps in even more terrifying form.

Robert Reich exposes the truth behind the Republican Party's attempt to rebrand itself

The Republican Party is trying to rebrand itself as the party of the working class.

Rubbish. Republicans can spout off all the catchy slogans about blue jeans and beer they want, but actions speak louder than words. But let's look at what they're actually doing.Did they vote for the American Rescue Plan? No. Not a single Republican in Congress voted for stimulus checks and extra unemployment benefits needed by millions of American workers.So what have they voted for? Well, every single one of them voted for Trump's 2017 tax cut for the wealthy and corporations, of which 83 percent of the benefits go to the richest 1 percent over a decade.

They claimed corporations would use the savings from the tax cut to invest in their workers. In reality, corporations used their tax savings to buy back shares of their own stock in order to boost share values. And some corporations then fired large portions of their workforce. Not very pro-worker, if you ask me.

Have they voted for any taxes on the wealthy? No. Quite the opposite. Republicans refuse to tax the rich. They've even been trying to get rid of the estate tax, which only applies to estates worth at least $11.7 million for individuals and $23.4 million for married couples. Working class my foot.

Have they backed a bill to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, which a majority of Americans favor? No. Republicans refuse to raise the minimum wage even though it would give 32 million workers a raise. That's about a fifth of the entire U.S. workforce.

Do they support unions, which empower workers to get better pay and benefits? No again. To the contrary: Republicans have enacted right-to-work laws in 28 states, decimating unions' bargaining power and enabling businesses to exploit their workers.

And when it comes to strengthening labor laws, only five out of 211 Republicans voted for the PRO Act in the House – the toughest labor law legislation in a generation.

How about the historic union drive at the Bessemer, Alabama Amazon warehouse, which Joe Biden and almost all Democrats have strongly backed? Just one Republican spoke out in support. All others have been dead silent.

What about backing regulations that keep workers safe? Nope. In fact, they didn't bat an eye when Trump rolled back child labor protections, undid worker safeguards from exposure to cancerous radiation, and gutted measures that shield workers from wage theft.

Do they support overtime? No. They allowed Trump to eliminate overtime for 8 million workers, and continue to repeat the corporate lie about "job-killing regulations."

What about expanding access to healthcare to all working people? Not a chance. Republicans at the state level have blocked Medicaid expansion and enacted Medicaid work requirements, while Republicans in Congress have tried for years to repeal the entirety of the Affordable Care Act. If they succeeded, they would have stripped healthcare away from more than 20 million working Americans.

So don't fall for the Republican Party's "working class" rebrand. It's a cruel hoax. The GOP doesn't give a fig about working people. It is, and always will be, the party of big business and billionaires.

Senate Democrats face a simple, stark choice

Republican-controlled state legislatures have introduced over 361 voter suppression bills in 47 states, and some states, like Georgia, have already enacted them into law.

There's only one way to stop this assault on our democracy. It's called the FOR THE PEOPLE ACT, and the window for Congress to pass it is closing.

These Republican voter suppression bills are egregious—they shrink early voting periods, add onerous voter ID requirements, limit eligibility for mail-in ballots, ban ballot drop boxes and drive-through voting, and even make it a crime to give voters in line water.

The FOR THE PEOPLE ACT, on the other hand, would prevent these tactics and make it easier to vote. In addition, gerrymandering would be reduced and the power of small political donors would be amplified.

It could not come at a more critical time.

The Republican assault on our democracy is based on the lie that there was widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election. Multiple recounts in battleground states like Georgia found nothing. Investigations by the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department found nothing. 61 out of 62 courts found nothing.

Republicans claim they're just listening to the concerns of their voters and restoring "trust" in our elections. Rubbish. The real purpose of these restrictions is to hamper voting by Black people, people of color, young people, and lower-income Americans.

After Black voters and organizers in Georgia flipped the state blue for the first time in decades, the GOP is pulling out all the stops to prevent the same from happening in other states. The situation is even more dire given the upcoming once-in-a-decade redistricting process, allowing Republican-controlled states to further gerrymander congressional districts.

Their assault on the right to vote is a coordinated, national strategy led by top party leaders and outside dark-money advocacy groups like the Heritage Foundation. That group is working directly with state legislatures to provide them with "model legislation" and gearing up to spend $24 million in eight states to advance these bills ahead of the midterms.

Unless the FOR THE PEOPLE ACT becomes law, these restrictive state bills will go into effect before the upcoming 2022 midterm elections, and entrench Republican power for years to come. So it's essential we protect voting rights now, while we still can.

This is not a partisan fight. It's a battle between forces that want to go backward to an era of Jim Crow, and the majority of Americans who want to build a more inclusive democracy.

Yet the FOR THE PEOPLE ACT faces an uphill battle in the Senate because of the archaic filibuster rule that requires a 60-vote supermajority to pass legislation.

The good news is Senate Democrats have the power to end the filibuster and thereby allow the FOR THE PEOPLE ACT to become law. It's time for Democrats to unite on this, without hesitation.

The stakes could not be higher. Simply put, it's democracy or authoritarianism.

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