Manchin kills Build Back Better bill, says he'll vote NO
While some are blaming Democrats, the fault is with Manchin, the GOP and the voters who handed us an evenly-divided Senate.
Distressing, but hardly surprising, news this morning. US Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) went on Fox News — of course — and said he’s a definitive NO vote on President Biden’s Build Back Better (BBB) infrastructure bill. Take a look at what Manchin said, then let’s talk about it.
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Here’s the video of Manchin on Fox:
And here’s the statement Manchin issued shortly thereafter:
First, as background, this is the second, larger infrastructure bill that would have been on the order of $1.75 trillion to $3+ trillion, and would have covered things like child care, the child tax credit, etc. The earlier, smaller, $1 trillion (or so) traditional infrastructure bill (roads, trains, airports) is already law.
A few thoughts:
Blaming Biden and the Dems is wrong.
The left in the US House was holding up the smaller infrastructure bill until Manchin agreed to pass the larger bill, assuming that Manchin wanted the smaller bill as much as they wanted the larger one. That same caucus is now blaming Democrats for agreeing to move ahead with the smaller bill anyway. They say they knew that Manchin would never agree, and that we gave away our leverage by agreeing to pass the smaller bill. But I’d argue that we didn’t have any leverage to begin with.
I’m convinced that Manchin would have been fine had neither infrastructure bill passed. You just can’t pressure someone like that because you have zero leverage. “I’m not going to pass the bill you don’t care about unless you agree to pass BOTH bills you don’t care about!” Not gonna work.
Joe Manchin didn’t kill this bill by himself. Republicans killed this bill.
Joe Manchin didn’t kill this bill. Joe Manchin and every single Republican in the US Senate killed this bill. (And let’s not forget goofy Kyrsten Sinema.) But we don’t hear many Democrats, or many in the media, blaming the Republicans. We only hear the media, and Democrats, talking about Manchin. That’s lousy messaging. It tells the public that Dems are to blame for this fiasco, and just as bad, it tells Democrats that Dems suck, when it’s not the Democrats’, or Joe Biden’s, fault that the Senate is split 50-50.
US Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) weighed in on exactly that point this morning, blaming the Rs:
Blaming Dems isn’t just wrong, it’s politically stupid.
Blaming Democrats, and specifically Joe Biden, for Manchin and the GOP torpedoing BBB is a great way to ensure that Republicans take back the House and Senate in 2022, something they’re already well on their way to doing. This statement from US Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) exemplifies the problem:I don’t understand comments like this. What exactly is her plan for getting Progressive priorities passed without Manchin? All she’s doing is depressing the Democratic vote, while offering no solutions, and basically lying about why the legislation has been blocked.
Democrats didn’t “place the fate of Build Back Better at the feet of one Senator.” The voters did. They’re the ones who gave us an evenly-divided Senate, and a one-vote majority, by which any single Senator can kill everything. Incorrectly blaming this on Democrats is a great way to elect Republicans. Then see what happens to the agenda that Cori Bush promised her voters.
My message for the Blame-Democrats-First caucus: Bluster is easy; getting things done, harder. Show me why YOUR strategy would have been successful, then let’s assign blame.
It’s not like Dems have done nothing for Democratic voters.
I’ve noticed some of the Blame-Democrats crowd acting as though Democrats have done nothing to motivate our people to vote in 2022. They particularly like to cite student loan debt — if young people don’t get their loans forgiven, then we’ve accomplished nothing! Not quite. Biden has already done a lot. And just because you didn’t get your pet handout, doesn’t mean that Biden hasn’t done a great job, nor that he hasn’t done a lot that benefits you. To wit:
Covid. People are actually getting vaccinated, and we actually have a White House that cares whether you live or die.
The economy. Biden has added six million jobs to the economy in his first year alone, that’s the most of any first-year president in history. Unemployment was 6.3% when Biden was sworn in, now it’s 4.2%. Jobs are so plentiful that employers can’t even fill them. We have the best economic numbers in 50 years, save inflation. And that inflation is due to several; things: Trump screwing up Covid; and a roaring economy leading to increased prices (back to jobs, if you can’t fill them, you have to raise wages, which raises inflation).
GDP was forecast to grow 2.9% this year. After Biden’s stimulus bill, it’s expected to be 5-6%, the best since 1984.
Child Poverty was cut in half by the $1.9 trillion Biden stimulus bill that also continued unemployment benefits, the Paycheck Protection Plan, and many more benefits for every American.
Schools: According to the White House, when Biden was elected, 46% of schools were open, now 99% of schools are open.
I want to harp on this for just a moment longer. There’s a school of thought of late among some on the left that you must get 100% of what you want, or you should take your electoral ball and go home. We saw some of this with Hillary’s nomination in 2016 — and folks that couldn’t accept that their candidate lost — and we certainly have seen it subsequently on the student loan issue, and now the larger infrastructure bill. The thing is, you don’t always get everything you want in politics. Sometimes, you just don’t have the votes, and other times, not everybody agrees with you that your proposal is do-or-die. Perpetuating the myth that “you’d better get everything, or you’ve got nothing” is not healthy for the body politic nor for our future election chances. It’s also incredibly dishonest.
Manchin is a duplicitous little f*ck.
I never thought Manchin was negotiating in good faith. I don’t think he ever wanted to see the larger bill pass. Just look at how his message kept changing. Up until a few days ago, we never saw an actual detailed counter-proposal from Manchin, other than him throwing out a general figure about how much he’d be willing to spend. If something in particular bothered Manchin about the bill (say, climate change), but other provisions were fine, he’d have told us months ago that x, y and z was unacceptable, but p, d, q was fine. He never did.
In addition to the money Manchin received from lobbyists, I’ve been wondering whether McConnell hasn’t promised Manchin something in exchange for him throwing a huge wrench in the effort to pass Biden’s agenda. Was Manchin promised that if he wrecks BBB, and then becomes a Republican, immediately handing control of the Senate to the Rs, that McConnell will make him chair of the Appropriations committee? Manchin’s duplicity just doesn’t make sense. He’s up to something. We’re missing something.
As an aside, Manchin is up for re-election in a state that Trump won by a huge margin. A lot of folks think Manchin has zero chance of being re-elected. It’s possible that Manchin is doing all of this in order to “prove” his conservative credentials to a Trump-voting state. But that’s one heck of a hail Mary. And it still doesn’t explain why Manchin never came clean on what he wanted.
Biden is pissed.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki weighed in this morning with a scathing statement about Manchin’s sudden NO vote after days of positive negotiations with the White House. This is further evidence of Manchin’s duplicity. He wasn’t negotiating in good faith.
6. Why Dems couldn’t play-hardball with Manchin.
Push Manchin too far and he becomes a Republican, control of the Senate gets immediately handed over to Mitch McConnell, and there go Biden’s nominees and any legislation on anything over the next year. Do we really want Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley to have subpoena power?
Look, today’s news sucks. But it’s not a surprise. I don’t think Manchin was ever negotiating in good faith. (Nor was Sinema.) And as the White House statement makes clear this morning, Manchin even flip-flopped on his negotiations with the White House this week, which, according to Psaki, were going really well. (And Manchin even chose Fox News as the venue to drop the bomb — come on.) Manchin is up to something. There’s something else motivating him. Whether it’s money, a job offer after he loses the next election, or an offer from Mitch McConnell, I am convinced that there’s something motivating him behind the scenes. Regardless, the guy was never our ally. And now, he’s determined to be our spoiler.
And yea, it sucks. But before you blame Biden and the Dems, show me what you would have done differently, and why it would have been successful in getting Manchin’s vote. Then I’ll accept blame.