Manchin versus the White House | In Focus

Behind the scenes of the Build Back Better breakdown

If you haven’t heard, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WVA) and the White House had a major falling out over Biden’s Build Back Better bill, which is before the Senate. The Democrats need fifty votes plus the Vice-President’s tiebreaking vote to pass this legislation, and they cannot afford to lose even one since no Republican has agreed to support it. Here’s the real story.

Manchin criticized the pushy and demanding White House staff for pressuring him. In response, Jen Psaki, Biden’s press secretary, strongly criticized Manchin for breaking trust with the President. There are a number of issues that Manchin is using to hold up passage of BBB in the Senate, such as his concern that wealthy individuals and corporations will pay for the costs. The Republican counterargument is that it could cost up to $4.6 trillion “if the spending and revenue provisions were to become permanent”(Charles Dent, “Why Manchin Torpedoed Biden’s Big Bill”).

Note the deception here. Biden is telling the truth: It’s revenue neutral, but it will not be if these programs become permanent. Is this the best argument the Republicans and Manchin can come up with? They can’t attack the cost of the bill, so they create a straw man and attack it on “What if?” grounds. The bill would actually benefit Manchin’s very poor home state of West Virginia. Manchin is afraid of inflation, a valid concern if the bill doesn’t pay for itself, which it does. It’s ironic that passage of the Pentagon’s bill of $768 billion in 2021 was not cited as inflationary (Beau of the Fifth Column).

Manchin has gained a great deal of fame from his stand on BBB, which may have been one of his goals. As a result, he has lost his privacy. He and his family live on a houseboat near the Capitol while he’s in Washington D.C. West Virginia kayakers paddled around him in October, telling him to vote for the BBB bill. He’s also been confronted while walking down the street by progressives who press him to vote for the bill.

That fame must add a great deal of stress to his life, probably affecting his angry outburst last week. If Manchin is acting according to integrity, he is to be applauded, but if there is self-interest and lack of concern for his own constituents’ welfare, then he is being hypocritical.

Manchin has deep conflict of interest issues with West Virginia coal interests, the state he represents. He has between $1 and $5 million dollars invested in coal. He earned $491,000 in 2020 from his coal investments, more than double his $174,000 Senate salary, according to Frederika Shouten in an Oct. 27, 2021 article in CNN Business entitled, “Joe Manchin Has Made Millions from Coal. His Ties Are Now Facing Examination as Democrats Scramble for a Climate Economic Agreement”.

The progressives are also acting poorly. On his Comedy Central show, “Charlamagne Tha God,” progressive Charlamagne asked Vice President Kamala Harris this question: “I want to know who the real president of this country is, is it Joe Biden, or Joe Manchin?”

Many progressives seem to live in a dream world. We have three branches of government. They’re all independent.

Democrats have a bare majority in the Senate and even one vote makes a difference. Charlamagne’s expectations are far too high and unrealistic, based on his ignorance of how our government works.

Why have none of the Senate Republicans who have been willing to resist McConnell and the Republicans in the past spoken out, like Alaska’s Murkowski, Maine’s Collins, and Utah’s Romney? Why are Republicans united as a block against Biden’s programs, even though the program is revenue neutral? How could Republicans pass the 2017 tax cut that mainly benefited wealthy individuals and large corporations which raised the national debt by trillions of dollars? Don’t they care about their working-class supporters? The only conclusion that can be drawn is that Republicans don’t want the nation to benefit from Biden’s programs. They want to see Biden fail so they can win in the 2022 mid-term elections.

For Manchin and the Senate Republicans, “It’s all about power” — not doing what’s good for the nation. Regarding Biden’s BBB and Manchin, as Yogi Berra noted, “It’s not over till it’s over.”