Democrat Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia declared emphatically that he cannot back President Joe Biden’s signature Build Back Better legislation in its present form. The White House and progressive Democrats are fuming. Instead, they should take Senator Manchin’s words to heart and rethink their priorities in this age of inflation, soaring national debt, an unrelenting pandemic, and grave national security threats.
“I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation,” said Manchin in an interview during the “Fox News Sunday” December 19th broadcast. “I just can’t. I’ve tried everything humanly possible. I can’t get there.” When Manchin was asked directly by the show’s anchor Bret Baier whether that meant the moderate Democrat would vote “no” if the legislation were brought to a Senate vote, Manchin replied, “This is a no.”
Manchin cited several reasons for his opposition to the $2.2 trillion social welfare and green climate bill. He said that he is concerned about rising inflation that shows no sign of letting up soon, the exploding national debt, and the continuing problems caused by the spread of the coronavirus.
Manchin sharply criticized the budget gimmicks using so-called “sunset” clauses for certain programs that make the price tag appear much smaller than it will actually be.
“The thing that never changed, Bret,”Manchin said, “was basically the same amount of things that they’re trying to accomplish by just changing, if you will, the amount of time that we can depend on it. So if you’re going to do something and do it, pick what are prized priorities are like most people do and their families other businesses, and you fund them for ten years and you make sure they deliver the services for ten years.”
Shortly after his interview, Manchin warned that “my Democratic colleagues in Washington are determined to dramatically reshape our society in a way that leaves our country even more vulnerable to the threats we face. I cannot take that risk with a staggering debt of more than $29 trillion” and inflation that is harming many Americans “with no end in sight.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki did not waste any time in lashing out at Senator Manchin for supposedly going back on his word. Psaki characterized Manchin’s announcement of his decision to oppose the Build Back Better bill in its present form as “a breach of his commitments to the President and the Senator’s colleagues in the House and Senate.”
Evidently, Biden, his press secretary, and Manchin’s Democrat colleagues in Congress have not been listening hard enough to Manchin’s objections to their radical spendthrift bill. Manchin has raised red flags for weeks.
In early November, for example, Manchin criticized his Democrat colleagues for using “gimmicks” to obfuscate the true cost of the Build Back Better plan. Without the artificial “sunset” gimmicks, the real cost over a ten-year period would be close to $5 trillion, not the $1.75 trillion that the bill’s supporters claim it would cost. “I’m open to supporting a final bill that helps move our country forward, but I am equally open to voting against a bill that hurts our country,” he said back then. “I for one won’t support a multi-trillion dollar bill without greater clarity about why Congress chooses to ignore the serious effects of inflation and debt that have on our economy and existing government programs.”
Manchin could not be any clearer about his major concerns. Since November 1st, when Manchin issued this warning, nothing has been done to materially trim down the number and scope of the many bloated social welfare and green climate initiatives in the bill. Meanwhile, the inflation numbers are getting progressively worse. The Federal Reserve no longer calls the inflation problem “transitory” and has decided to prioritize tightening of the money supply to fight it. Reckless fiscal spending works at cross purposes with what the Federal Reserve is now belatedly trying to do to tame the inflation beast.
Nearly two months later, Manchin decided that he had waited long enough without any constructive results and finally pulled the plug on the Build Back Better monstrosity.
In Psaki’s December 10th statement falsely accusing Senator Manchin of “a sudden and inexplicable reversal in his position,” Psaki repeated the White House lie that “the plan is fully paid for.” In fact, Psaki took her fabrications to a new level when she claimed that the Build Back Better plan “is the most fiscally responsible major bill that Congress has considered in years, and reduces the deficit in the long run.”
Not so. At minimum, the Congressional Budget Office found that the Build Back Better plan as it currently stands, with its “sunset” clauses, would add $367 billion in unfunded spending. If the programs were to be extended for a full ten years, a much more likely scenario if the Democrats maintain power and have their way, more than $3 trillion would be added to the deficit.
Psaki also claimed that the Build Back Better plan would have virtually no impact on inflation in the short run and would help ease inflationary pressures in the long run. She mentioned a report from the Penn Wharton Budget Institute supposedly supporting this claim, taking a jab at Manchin who has relied on the Penn Wharton Budget Institute in analyzing the Build Back Better plan.
Psaki provided no quotes from the Penn Wharton Budget Institute report she alluded to, nor did she provide any citation to the report itself. What Psaki left out of her statement is a December 14th tweet from Penn Wharton Budget Model concluding that the Build Back Better Act would have negative effects on both the GDP and government debt.
Progressive Democrats went after Senator Manchin with a vengeance. A leading progressive in the House of Representatives, Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington State, said that “Senator Manchin has betrayed his commitment not only to the President and Democrats in Congress but most importantly, to the American people. He routinely touts that he is a man of his word, but he can no longer say that. West Virginians, and the country, see clearly who he is.”
To the contrary, West Virginians and people across the country have seen a rarity in Washington D.C. – a senator with common sense who says what he means and means what he says.
Rep. Ilhan Omar complained that “[W]e all knew that Senator Manchin couldn’t be trusted.” She added crudely, “[T]he excuses that he just made, I think, are complete bulls–t.”
The radical Squad member even had the nerve to pretend to speak for the people of West Virginia. “It is really disheartening to hear him say that he has been trying to get there for the people of West Virginia because that’s a complete lie,” Omar said. “There are just so many things that the people of West Virginia desperately need. And we know that he is not working on behalf of their interests.”
Democrat-Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders from ultraliberal Vermont also presumed to speak for the people of West Virginia. Sanders listed all kinds of enticing government handouts included in the Build Back Better bill that he said the people of West Virginia would want and suggested a statewide poll. “I told Manchin, by the way, I’ll pay for the damn poll in West Virginia on those issues, see how the people of West Virginia feel,” Sanders said.
If you ask someone whether he or she supports getting something for free or at a reduced subsidized price from the government, of course most people will say yes. However, when people realize all the true costs entailed with these giveaways that they will have to bear, including higher taxes and runaway inflation, many of these same people will have very serious second thoughts. Besides, the most important poll of West Virginian voters on whether they support the Biden agenda occurred during the last presidential election. Donald Trump beat Joe Biden 68.6% to 29.7%.
Senator Manchin obviously knows West Virginians far better than Biden or Bernie Sanders. Indeed, Biden is still disliked by many West Virginians. In a November 2021 MBE Research survey, 65% of West Virginia voters disapproved of the job Biden has been doing as President of the United States while only 32% approved. Manchin had an overall job approval rating of 60% in the survey compared to 37% disapproval.
As to the opinions of West Virginian voters regarding the Build Back Better plan, the MBE Research survey found that 74% of them agreed that “Senator Joe Manchin should oppose President Biden’s multi-trillion-dollar reconciliation spending bill in favor of legislation that would control spending more while 24% disagree with Senator Manchin’s opposition.”
Senator Manchin need not worry about a progressive-sponsored poll in his state. Manchin has his finger on the pulse of the people of West Virginia and, for that matter, the pulse of many Americans across the country.
In an interview with a local West Virginia radio station on Monday, Manchin hit back at White House staff, some of whom he blamed for the breakdown in his negotiations with the Biden administration.
“They figured surely to God we can move one person,” Manchin said. “We surely can badger and beat one person up. Surely we can get enough protesters to make that person uncomfortable enough that they’ll just say, ‘OK I’ll vote for anything.’ Well, guess what? I’m from West Virginia. I’m not from where they’re from and they can just beat the living crap out of people and think they’ll be submissive, period.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is still not listening to Manchin. Instead, he is following the lead of Sanders and other progressives demanding a Senate vote on the Build Back Better bill early next year.
“Senators should be aware that the Senate will, in fact, consider the Build Back Better Act, very early in the new year so that every Member of this body has the opportunity to make their position known on the Senate floor, not just on television,” Schumer wrote to Democrats on December 20th. “We are going to vote on a revised version of the House-passed Build Back Better Act – and we will keep voting on it until we get something done,” Schumer added.
Instead of trying to work constructively to reach a consensus on a select few high priority items to include in a fiscally responsible bill without threatening to fuel inflation or bust the budget, Schumer appears to be heading down a dead end. It is long past time to bury this horrible piece of legislation for good.