[guest post by JVW}
I have a feeling I am going to regret putting up this post when some eleventh-hour deal is struck saving the day for the Dems, but for the time being I think this is a pretty definitive response (bolded emphasis added by me):
Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) released the following statement about infrastructure and reconciliation negotiations.
Every Member of Congress has a solemn duty to vote for what they believe is best for the country and the American people, not their party. Respectfully, as I have said for months, I can’t support $3.5 trillion more in spending when we have already spent $5.4 trillion since last March. At some point, all of us, regardless of party must ask the simple question – how much is enough?
What I have made clear to the President and Democratic leaders is that spending trillions more on new and expanded government programs, when we can’t even pay for the essential social programs, like Social Security and Medicare, is the definition of fiscal insanity. Suggesting that spending trillions more will not have an impact on inflation ignores the everyday reality that America’s families continue pay an unavoidable inflation tax. Proposing a historic expansion of social programs while ignoring the fact we are not in a recession and that millions of jobs remain open will only feed a dysfunction that could weaken our economic recovery. This is the shared reality we all now face, and it is this reality that must shape the future decisions that we, as elected leaders, must make.
Since the beginning of this reconciliation debate, I have been consistent in my belief that any expansion of social programs must be targeted to those in need, not expanded beyond what is fiscally possible. Our tax code should be reformed to fix the flaws of the 2017 tax bill and ensure everyone pays their fair share but it should not weaken our global competitiveness or the ability of millions of small businesses to compete with the Amazons of the world. Overall, the amount we spend now must be balanced with what we need and can afford – not designed to reengineer the social and economic fabric of this nation or vengefully tax for the sake of wishful spending.
In August, I recommended we take a strategic pause to provide time to develop the right policies and to continue to monitor how the pandemic and economic factors are affecting our nation’s fiscal situation before we spend more. Throughout September, I have made it clear to all those who would listen the need to means test any new social programs so that we are helping those who need it the most, not spend for the sake of spending.
While I am hopeful that common ground can be found that would result in another historic investment in our nation, I cannot – and will not – support trillions in spending or an all or nothing approach that ignores the brutal fiscal reality our nation faces. There is a better way and I believe we can find it if we are willing to continue to negotiate in good faith.
If there is one final lesson that will continue to guide me in this difficult debate ahead it is this: America is a great nation but great nations throughout history have been weakened by careless spending and bad policies. Now, more than ever, we must work together to avoid these fatal mistakes so that we may fulfill our greatest responsibility as elected leaders and pass on a better America to the next generation.
That strikes me as a definite “No,” leaving the Dems stuck at 49 votes (I swear, Sen. Murkowski, no monkey business this time around, OK?). In case you think he is wavering, note the very dismissive tone he takes towards his President’s plan which I highlighted above in bold. Those aren’t the kind of statements a guy makes if he expects to play nice in the end. If the Kennedy family is looking for a candidate for one of their dopey “Profile in Courage” Awards, which allegedly goes to a statesman/stateswoman who bucks the zeitgeist of their party in order to do what they believe is correct, this is a pretty strong contender.
Progressives now are required to respond by junking the stupid infrastructure deal in retaliation, leaving the Biden-Pelosi-Schumer Axis of Banal without any sort of substantive success that they can point to in this first year. The only other option is for progressives to fold their tent and accept their status as junior members of the coalition, and I would imagine that the egos of Comrade Senator, Lieawatha, Shelly WhitesClub, Our Neiman-Marxist Niece, the Congresswoman from Hezbollah, and the Minneapolis-St. Polygamist are way too fragile to accept humiliation of that magnitude. But they’re politicians — some of them professionally even — so you never know.
Joe Manchin would make a fine Vice-Presidential nominee on a sane third-party ticket. The top slot on my dream ticket is yet to be named, but I have a pretty good idea of whom I would like to see.
UPDATE 8:36 pm: According to NRO, Manchin is also demanding that any expansion of Obamacare in the reconciliation bill must restore the Hyde Amendment. It sounds like another nail in the coffin for reconciliation, as it is nearly impossible to imagine House progressive agreeing with this. And it also sounds more and more like Manchin is going to end up a Republican by Thanksgiving weekend, doesn’t it?