[guest post by JVW]
Did you think the Democrats might have stopped to analyze what went wrong last night and decided to dial back some of their more radical spending plans and their my-way-or-the-highway attitude? Nah.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi informed Democratic lawmakers Wednesday that a paid leave provision will be added back into President Biden’s social spending bill, a decision that could draw the ire of moderate holdouts, including Sen. Joe Manchin, W-Va.
The proposal set to be included in the legislation outlines four weeks of paid leave. Paid leave was scrapped from previous versions of the bill amid opposition from Manchin and others who raised concerns about the cost of expanded social programs.
[. . .]
Manchin was critical of the paid leave proposal in recent weeks, arguing the reconciliation process that will allow Democrats to pass the spending bill by a simple majority vote should not be used to implement that program. Other Democrats, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, pushed Manchin to reconsider his opposition to the proposal.
The West Virginia Democrat has also asserted that a significant expansion of social programs would be fiscally irresponsible due to expected shortages in funding for Social Security and Medicare in the coming years. He has called for any paid leave program to include a work requirement.
[. . .]
Manchin indicated to reporters Wednesday that he was unaware Democratic leaders intended to add the paid leave plan back into the spending bill.
“That’s a challenge, very much of a challenge, and they know how I feel about that,” Manchin said.
As currently written the bill stands at $1.75 trillion in spending (the Dems’ estimate, not that of the Congressional Budget Office which is still studying the legislation), or a quarter-trillion dollars over what Sen. Manchin told Sen. Schumer he would be willing to support this past summer. Adding family leave back into the mix would have to bump up the price tag, perhaps by as much as another quarter trillion or thereabouts, so if Sen. Manchin were to swallow hard and vote for this travesty how could he not come off as having been entirely emasculated by Madam Speaker?
The House could vote on this new version of Build Back Better as early as tomorrow, and I am very interested in seeing if there are vulnerable Democrats in the lower chamber who refuse to throw themselves on their swords for the glories of progressivism. Going to have to pop some popcorn for this one.