Senator Joe Manchin on Build Back Better: “This Is A No”

Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonder and Home. Andrew is the host of Heard Tell podcast.

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101 Responses

  1. North
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    Disappointing and infuriating. Especially considering how long Manchin strung matter out in the media. Worst of all, of course, is that the party can’t do anything to him or else lose access to judicial appointments and other day to day operational matters that having the Senate affords. I suppose all that’s left to do is to try and work something else out. How long is their reconciliation window? I would not have anticipated the infrastructure bill passing but BBB not.Report

    • Andrew Donaldson in reply to North
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      I’ve been rather the opposite, I figured infrastructure would get done but nothing else. Here we are.Report

    • Michael Cain in reply to North
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      Especially considering how long Manchin strung matter out in the media.

      The media didn’t ask the right question. They asked about bottom line dollars, particular social programs, etc. Since January, Manchin has been unwavering that he would not vote for a bill that included any significant spending on climate change. I suppose they assumed there was some sort of secret deal between Manchin and Schumer on the subject — after all, would Schumer install someone as chair of the Energy committee who opposed the Democratic Party’s signature environmental policy? They could have asked,”President Biden made large promises about addressing climate change during his campaign and at the COP meetings. Will you vote for BBB if it includes climate change spending?” And the answer would have always been “No.”

      The SCOTUS announced they will hear the cases on the docket about the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases in February. Gorsuch was installed on the Court for the express purpose of rolling back the regulatory state. I anticipate that at a minimum Massachusetts v. EPA will be reversed, and executive branch ability to deal with climate change unilaterally sharply curtailed.

      OTOH — for single-track me — this past week my local power authority issued an RFP for 250 MW of solar-plus-storage generation, to take us well past 50% renewable power by 2025. The week before that TransWest Express announced Power Company of Wyoming, currently building the largest wind facility in North America, has agreed to buy 1.5 GW of transmission capacity to deliver Wyoming wind power to Southern California.Report

      • InMD in reply to Michael Cain
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        The changes are going to happen no matter what the government does. The question is whether they’ll happen fast enough to prevent serious economic and environmental damage without the government putting its finger on the scale.Report

        • Michael Cain in reply to InMD
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          The Midwest and South have sufficient coal to burn for at least another century (staggering amounts of high-sulfur coal that can be surface-mined in Illinois, for example). I don’t see how they can be convinced to avoid that outside of nuclear, and Southern Co. (in the form of subsidiary Georgia Power) is in the process of killing nuclear there with Vogtle 3 and 4.Report

          • InMD in reply to Michael Cain
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            That’s still a matter of when, not if. The cost of renewables has gotten competitive, the EV revolution is underway, cows may well soon be eating seaweed supplements, etc. It’s also not as though the politics of those regions are so uniform that every state will burn coal until it’s gone. Just a question of whether we race to prevent the worst or let a lot of preventable bad happen while we drag out feet.Report

            • PD Shaw in reply to InMD
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              The new coal mines in Illinois are counting on exports. Most Illinois energy is from nuclear. I think four new coal mines have opened in the last fifteen years, all using longwall mining technology, which essentially involves a two-mile wide cutting tool that scrapes coal from the seam, which drops onto a conveyor belt to be hauled to the surface. As the machine advances the earth drops behind it. Fewer jobs than traditional coal mining and more profitable. Illinois has a plan to move to net carbon zero that has nothing to do with stopping coal mining. The sin does not lie with those who supply it, just those that burn it.Report

  2. Jaybird
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    I can’t help but think that this was avoidable.Report

  3. Doctor Jay
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    The White House response (https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/12/19/statement-from-press-secretary-jen-psaki-4/)

    Senator Manchin’s comments this morning on FOX are at odds with his discussions this week with the President, with White House staff, and with his own public utterances. Weeks ago, Senator Manchin committed to the President, at his home in Wilmington, to support the Build Back Better framework that the President then subsequently announced. Senator Manchin pledged repeatedly to negotiate on finalizing that framework “in good faith.”

    On Tuesday of this week, Senator Manchin came to the White House and submitted—to the President, in person, directly—a written outline for a Build Back Better bill that was the same size and scope as the President’s framework, and covered many of the same priorities. While that framework was missing key priorities, we believed it could lead to a compromise acceptable to all. Senator Manchin promised to continue conversations in the days ahead, and to work with us to reach that common ground. If his comments on FOX and written statement indicate an end to that effort, they represent a sudden and inexplicable reversal in his position, and a breach of his commitments to the President and the Senator’s colleagues in the House and Senate.

    Ummm, shots fired.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Doctor Jay
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      I guess the question then becomes “who is writing checks that they won’t be able to cash?”Report

      • Doctor Jay in reply to Jaybird
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        There’s a very important conditional in that statement:

        If his comments on FOX and written statement indicate an end to that effort

        More kabuki?Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Doctor Jay
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          The gist from the smarts that I follow is something to the effect of “ain’t you never seen a negotiation before?”

          Report

          • InMD in reply to Jaybird
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            I don’t know how to embed tweets but I have seen some suggesting that Ron Wyden has proposed a bill consisting only of the Manchin support-ables. We shall see.Report

            • InMD in reply to InMD
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              Edit, I see it is ‘an outline’ of a bill.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to InMD
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                If it is “an outline”, then it ain’t a bill and BBB ain’t getting passed in 2021.

                We’ll see what happens after the holidays, of course, but I think it’s safe to say that Biden’s first year is not quite as good as FDR’s.Report

              • InMD in reply to Jaybird
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                Oh nothing is getting passed this year and the FDR thing was detached from reality from the outset. But I think something modest will eventually pass.Report

              • Saul Degraw in reply to InMD
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                In 1937, Democrats controlled 75 of the 96 seats in the Senate. This creates something called wiggle room plus there were some moderate and liberal Republicans who would vote for the New Deal when the more reactionary Democrats flounced.

                The election of Warnock and Ossoff paradoxically made Manchin the most important Democrat in the Senate instead of being a non-entity.

                Why are so many people attracted to the Green Lantern theory of rhetoric and oratory when it gets debunked again and again? Is political reality too depressing.Report

              • InMD in reply to Saul Degraw
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                Well yea. A 1 vote majority based on Harris as tie-breaker is not a recipe for an ambitious agenda. My hope is that this spectacle is to give Manchin his street cred win to take back to WVa. Then they can pass 75% of the substance by president’s day when the pressure has ratcheted down some and attention is focused elsewhere.Report

              • Saul Degraw in reply to InMD
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                That is also magical thinking. Manchin was probably never going to vote for BBB and he probably would have killed BIF rather than grit his teeth and vote for BBB.

                The best way to get rid of Manchin’s power is to elect more Democrats and make him a non-entity. Same with Sinema.Report

              • InMD in reply to Saul Degraw
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                Maybe. But in the long run, yes, the only way to advance is winning elections.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Saul Degraw
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                Manchin was probably never going to vote for BBB and he probably would have killed BIF rather than grit his teeth and vote for BBB.

                That. That exactly.

                The infrastructure bill is passed and he’s spent enough time “thinking” about BBB that it’s no longer as obvious what he did. It took this long to reduce the amount of political pain.Report

            • Marchmaine in reply to InMD
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              ‘While that framework was missing key priorities’

              From what I’ve read he’s willing to support $1.XXT in fully funded 10-yr programs… but the BBB bill has too many 1-, 3-, 5- yr programs to try to hit the target number… but those are either false numbers (i.e. they will be ‘force’ funded) or they are false programs (i.e. can’t do anything meaningful with 1-yr phase out) and most likely it’s the former, not the latter… which means Manchin is saying pick what you want to back for 10-yrs (or, more likely, pick from among these few things I will approve) and drop the rest.

              Strange to me that with a 50/50 Senate and having passed a $1T infrastructure bill that the Dems want to trumpet defeat rather than pass another $1T on a smaller(!) agenda. They are lamenting the “missing priorities’ more than they are enjoying the success of *a* shared priority.Report

              • Brandon Berg in reply to Marchmaine
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                Most egregiously, the BBB raised taxes for ten years to pay for one year of the child tax credit, and IIRC about 5 years of the SALT deduction increase. This is not fiscally responsible governance. Manchin is the grown-up in the room here, insisting that Democrats eat their vegetables before dessert.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Brandon Berg
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                How is the 7 Trillion* dollar Defense budget going to be paid for?

                Asked no one, ever.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels
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                You mean 700 billion. Gotta watch those zeros.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter
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                No.

                The proper usage is to extend the number out ten years, e.g. the “3 Trillion BBB” plan or the alternative, the “1.7Trillion” plan, etc.

                So how are we ever going to pay for 7 Trillion dollars of defense spending, if we can’t even afford 3 Trillion of other spending?Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Chip Daniels
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                The $7T is already baked into the cake… it’s partly why an additional $3.3T might be too much to undertake.

                But the Dems didn’t propose a ‘Peace Dividend’ where they would cut $3T out of the defense budget.

                Could they? Sure? Is it really possible to cut $3T out of defense? Maybe? Over 10-yrs?

                Are the Dem’s campaigning on a ‘Peace Dividend’? Do you think it would be a winning issue? How many Senators do we think would back that?Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Marchmaine
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                Wow, we aren’t going to run a deficit, now that the BBB is killed?

                Because if we did, that would mean that the 7 Trillion dollar defense budget isn’t paid for and I know how much everyone hates that.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
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                Chip, I think that Democratic leaders could easily run on “Defund the Military”.

                Why do you think they haven’t?Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Chip Daniels
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                heh, this is just Chip in Disarray.

                There are parts of the BBB that could be good and popular legislation and there are parts of the BBB that aren’t popular.

                The great thing about reconciliation is that it forces your legislators to accept everything without any real legislative process… the bad thing is that it’s all or nothing because you only get one bite at the apple.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels
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                So the idea is if you’re going to drive drunk, take a few more shots before you leave? This sounds like a dodge to me. But at the risk of leaving you open for a digression, I’m going to answer this: because defense is an obligation for a national government, and things like health care and infrastructure aren’t.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky
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                “How will this tax cut be paid for?”

                Asked no Republican, ever.

                “How will this vital obligation to the nation’s defense be paid for?”

                Asked no Republican, ever.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels
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                Not asked often enough, sure. But you can’t use that as a defense for not asking the question either. That’s like introducing a BSDI argument and at the same time saying your side is justified in doing it. It’s just untenable.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky
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                Of course we can.
                So long as the Republicans block any method of actually paying for stuff, we can ignore their complaining about the mess they themselves have made.

                Let them propose rolling back their deficit-exploding tax cuts then we will start to take them seriously.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels
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                You’re claiming BBB is just as vital to the nation as the Defense dept? That the country will simply fall apart if we don’t have it?

                Or how about the opposite, BBB is not as important.

                Defense spending is about 11% of all federal spending, the rest is effectively social spending. Can’t we repurpose some of the 89% of the money we’re already spending into BBB?

                Or is it less important than all of that too?Report

              • Brandon Berg in reply to Chip Daniels
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                How is the 7 Trillion* dollar Defense budget going to be paid for?

                If you want to cut military other spending, you won’t hear any complaints from me. Military spending is less than10% of total government spending, though. In fact, it’s currently the lowest share of US government spending that it’s ever been. Literally zeroing out military spending would not fully eliminate the deficit. Let’s not pretend that this is where all the money is going.Report

              • Brandon Berg in reply to Brandon Berg
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                Military spending is less than10% of total government spending, though. In fact, it’s currently the lowest share of US government spending that it’s ever been.

                Sorry, that was the wrong link. Here’s the chart of military expenditure as a share of total government spending.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Brandon Berg
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                Last number is 7.86%

                Wow.Report

              • InMD in reply to Marchmaine
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                Yea I try not to do the ‘Dems in disarray’ thing but I’m perplexed by the way this is being handled for exactly those reasons.Report

              • InMD in reply to InMD
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                Here’s the outline Wyden is proposing:

                https://ktvz.com/news/government-politics/2021/12/19/wyden-still-pitching-for-build-back-better-path-forward-in-wake-of-manchin-opposition/

                I read it as ‘permanent funding’ of child tax credits, the Medicare prescription drug provisions, and ‘technology neutral’ clean energy incentives. If Manchin will in fact vote for that I don’t know how it’s a loss under the circumstances. Yet here we are.Report

              • North in reply to InMD
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                If that passes into law then Biden will have overseen one of the most productive legislative periods in modern history. That’ll be objectively inarguable. History and elections will determine if that fact is viewed as a good thing or a bad thing though.Report

              • InMD in reply to North
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                It all depends on what you want out of politics, and why I’m less inclined to ruminate on all this doom and gloom. If you want to see the advancement of your preferred policies in the windows you get then this is hardly a disaster, and if something like what Wyden is talking about happens then it’s really a pretty good outcome. If on the other hand you’re always looking for the revolution or the day your side finally wins forever no take backs, you’re always going to be disappointed.Report

              • InMD in reply to InMD
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                Per reports, the sticking point was the CTC, but Manchin was apparently willing to do the pre-K. Obviously anonymous sources so make what you will. I believe firmly in the CTC on a needs basis but unprincipled pragmatist I am, and assuming the report is accurate, I would still have taken it and ran. Maybe they still can.

                https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2021/12/20/manchin-biden-child-tax-credit/Report

              • North in reply to InMD
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                There’s still time in 2022. It’ll just be harder and the distraction and the electoral considerations of the voting congresscritters and Senators will steadily ramp upwards as the days tick on. Something assuredly can be accomplished but it will simply be harder. Most assuredly, though, the dream of some wide ranging wish list of left wing priorities is dead and acknowledging that may be a commensurate lift.
                Time will tell but I don’t think Schumer and Pelosi will waste the time they have remaining. They’ll try to get something done.Report

              • North in reply to InMD
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                On this you and I are in agreement.Report

              • Michael Cain in reply to InMD
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                Probably me being gloomy, but in committee no Republicans voted for Wyden’s energy bill. As it wipes out all existing tax breaks for fossil fuel producers, it seems unlikely any will vote for it on the floor. Or Manchin, for that matter.

                So far as I can tell, Wyden and Manchin mean two entirely different things when they say “technology neutral” energy policy.Report

              • North in reply to Marchmaine
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                The Dem coalition is a very very big tent and the individual elements are extremely fractious and extremely loud. The modern internet/media ecosystem magnifies the ability of passionate minorities to pitch a fit entirely out of proportion to their actual voter base; especially on the left where there is not a reliably devoted propaganda arm for the lefts political party (and that is a weakness AND a strength) magnifies it.

                As a result of that the Dem leadership wasn’t willing to cut the pet projects of any one constituency out of BBB. Instead they just shrank everything down and hoped either that Manchin would just accept it as is or force them to exclude specific items (and thus be their scapegoat to the aggrieved constituency). Manchin opted to just refuse to play along.

                So now leadership is(or should) make the hard calls.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Doctor Jay
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      Psaki is out of fs to giveReport

  4. Saul Degraw
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    Your senior senator is a miserable, thin-skinned old man. He mainly cares about his own wealth, his family’s wealth, and their power. He is the very example of the iron law of institutions. Any critique of his family raises his ire.

    Joe Manchin probably never intended to vote for BBB but in a 50-50 Senate, he became the source of attention and power and liked it. The last year was nothing but bad-faith negotiation and now it is over. What a miserly old man.Report

  5. Saul Degraw
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    I’ve noticed two things:

    1. The Squad/progressives are angry about the decoupling of BBB and BIF;

    2. Overly paid pundits and people who want to be overly paid pundits keep on bringing up that FDR and LBJ would have known how to treat Manchin and Sinema.

    Both of these assume a lot of facts not in evidence and also ignore a lot of facts because those facts are inconvenient.

    In 1937, Democrats controlled 75 out of 96 Senate seats. In 1965, Democrats controlled 68 out of 100 Senate seats. This creates something called wiggle room. There were also such things as modernate/liberal Republicans in 1937 and 1965, unlike the fake moderates now who the media pretends are all mavericky. Plus, FDR and LBJ did suffer setbacks when their majorities became smaller. LBJ could not replace Warren on the Supreme Court for example and Nixon was given the chance to appoint Burger instead.

    The progressives seem to think that Manchin would have gritted his teeth and voted for BBB in order to get BIF and this also assumes a lot of facts not in evidence. If Manchin was so dead set on killing BBB, he would have taken BIF down with him.

    Is this political reality so depressing that no one wants to deal with it? What does it take to kill green lanternism in politics?Report

    • j r in reply to Saul Degraw
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      “In 1937, Democrats controlled 75 out of 96 Senate seats. In 1965, Democrats controlled 68 out of 100 Senate seats. This creates something called wiggle room. There were also such things as modernate/liberal Republicans in 1937 and 1965…”

      Could this be an argument for (or at least question about) the Biden administration not trying to pass New Deal/Great Society level programs without New Deal/Great Society level margins in congress? I claim no special punditry powers, but it might be the case that Biden was elected to not be Trump. That is, he was elected to get us back to some level of political normalcy and not to usher in $3.5 trillion in new spending commitments at a moment when the economy is in recovery and there are questions about whether inflation is transitory or longer-lasting.

      Perhaps it is passé to even questions the economic arguments around the bill. It would explain why the discourse is almost solely about the politics.

      I do get the political drama around Manchin and Sinema, but it is hard for me to get too worked about a bill in which a tax cut for the wealthy is one of, possibly the, largest expenditure item.Report

    • Dark Matter in reply to Saul Degraw
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      If Manchin was so dead set on killing BBB, he would have taken BIF down with him.

      I think he said as much at one point.

      Given BBB only ever had 47-48 votes, isn’t there something Team Blue could do with the 50 they had? We’ve burned a lot of time just to find out that 48 is not 50 and a moderate Dem is not a Progressive.Report

  6. Chip Daniels
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    What this really needs to do is forever put to rest any of the essays we see about compromising or moving to the center so as to win a few Republican votes.

    Even the infrastructure bill that all the Republicans are now boasting of, got what, one or two votes? Aside from that, the Republican caucus is in total obstruction mode and will be until they win back control.

    The only two alternatives the American voters have is Republican control or Democratic control.Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to Chip Daniels
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      It passed with 13 Republican votes in the House, and 19 in the Senate. This kind of thing is easy to check nowadays.

      The only two alternatives the American voters have is Republican control or Democratic control.

      The third option is for neither to have control. The Republicans can’t unilaterally pass any bills either. I get that to an authoritarian, not being able to dominate others feels like being dominated, but they’re really very different.Report

      • Philip H in reply to Brandon Berg
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        At present, Republicans DON”T WNAT TO PASS BILLS. They WANT TO OBSTRUCT so as to regain power. And when the have power, they will )based on record to date) pass bills to slash taxes for the rich and corporations, pass bills to nullify the regulatory state to the benefit of the rich and corporations, and pass bills at he state level to destroy voting rights via denying access and to deny women body autonomy. And all of that in the face of majority support by ordinary Americans of all political persuasions against the Republican legislation I have mentioned.

        Your call on how authoritarian that might be.Report

  7. Chip Daniels
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    Apparently a sticking point for Manchin was that he believes that parents will use their child tax credit money on drugs rather than food.

    Nobody has more scorn for West Virginians than their millionaire Senator.Report

  8. North
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    Chait has a must read on the matter. It bears noting, though, that Chait, like me, is a yellow dog democrat so he may well be trying to put this in the most positive light he can.

    https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/12/did-joe-manchin-kill-joe-bidens-domestic-agenda.htmlReport

    • Kenb in reply to North
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      Interesting, thanks for sharing. I’d seen some people saying Manchin was being inconsistent and unreasonable, and others saying he was being perfectly reasonable and Dems just haven’t done what he asked for – hadn’t occurred to me that both might be true.

      Lots of folks out there today saying Manchin is doing the Dems a favor by not letting it go through in its current form…just read it in the WSJ too.Report

      • North in reply to Kenb
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        Yeah there’s a lot of moving parts in it and strong arguments can be made for various elements. I think that the end result will probably define this period post hoc. If the Dems select a couple of agenda items, fund them for ten years and pass that bill (especially if they’re the most popular elements of BBB mosaic) then in hindsight this development may be viewed as bumpy but durably constructive. If nothing ends up being passed then the “Democrats in Disarray” media narrative may well burn itself into history more durably and this particular move will be viewed as the point where that unhappy story became definitive.Report

  9. Tessa Con Rubi
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    Daylight come, and me wanna go home.

    Folks, they were absolutely right to talk about FDR in the same breath as the Brandon Administration, although the better parallel might have been Kennedy’s Camelot.

    Irish Democracy is the only thing standing in the way of … saving our economy. Yeah, you heard me. It’s been on life support since GWB (although Trump was trying to right the ship, he was 4 years away from making good on half his inflated baloney).

    Manchin stands alone, the Autist who wouldn’t budge.

    Whitehouse staffers are fleeing the country, ahead of bullets.Report

  10. Burt Likko
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    Manchin isn’t the only one with agency here (although yes, he has agency). There are 50 Republicans in lockstep on this. Used to be, each side would search for one or two members of the other party to peel away. No Republican is peeling away to join with the Democrats. Throwing in some pork projects to flip a few on-the-fence Republicans isn’t going to work these days.

    There are different ways to respond to that. For me, the instructive response is is “What is in this bill for Republicans to want?” and although partisans of the bill have things they can point to which would be good for Red states, the politicians seem to think that voting for something that is actually good for their constituents but standing with the other party will be worse for them politically than being seen by their constituents as opposing the Democrats, as long as there is some sort of smoke they can hide behind if need be, no matter how ridiculously incorrect it is. (e.g., “The bill would have promoted CRT in kindergarten classes! And OAC wouldn’t budge on keeping it in when I asked for a simple voice vote on that one line item! I had to vote no, won’t anyone PLEASE think of the children?”)

    Drill down further. Why do Republican politicians think that voting against their own constituents’ interests and justifying it with bullshit is good for them politically? It can be a) they truly believe they are voting in their constituents’ bests interests because it turns out complex legislation is complex; b) they believe their constituents – at least the ones likely to vote for them – don’t understand their own interests and need a simple, Manichean world view in which Democrats are always the bad guys on everything; c) they think that even if what’s in the bill is needed, they can afford to kick the can down the road until a Republican is President and pass a similar bill then, except then take the credit for it, which has the advantage of delaying what’s needed and causing pain which can then be blamed on the Democratic President to increase the chances of getting a Republican President later; or d) it’s something of a combo plate.

    If you want 51 votes, or if need be 60 votes, the incentives for Republicans are going to need to change while leaving enough of the existing incentives for Democrats in place. And since complex legislation is complex, that’s going to be hard to do. Manchin is as much an indicator of the difficulty of the problem, which is really kind of transcendent even of our hypercatalyzed social media age, as the actual sticking point. A different vote from him would have been one of several other ways out. As others have pointed out, Cal Cunningham keeps it in his pants, he gets elected the cycle before last, and it’s 51 Democrats and VP Harris has a way easier job than she does now and/or Manchin has more cover to execute the strategy he believes needs to so as to keep his seat. Or, while we’re dreaming, maybe Beto actually beat Cruz. Or Mainers didn’t (barely) fall for the continued vacillation of Olympia Snowe.

    There’s a lot of parts to this. Manchin is one of them, yes. But it’s a mistake to focus on him alone.Report

    • North in reply to Burt Likko
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      True Burt but somewhat incidental. Mitch forged and launched the extant Republican’s strategy during Obama’s first term and the GOP has hewn to it pretty reliably ever since. I don’t think it’ll falter very much until something changes either with the right’s base or the right wing media-base feedback loop. As it is Republican politicians seem to view pleasing their media ecosystem as more important than their voters and I cannot honestly say they are incorrect in doing so. Currently the right wing media delivers the right wing voters and, barring that, delivers comfortable pose electoral position sinecures either as media personalities or other forms of employment. I don’t think the Dems can offer anything that’d peel away a Republican vote or two. The partisan interest is too strong in simply making them fail and, flatly, the right doesn’t have a concrete policy position right now outside opposition to the lefts works.Report

    • j r in reply to Burt Likko
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      “Drill down further. Why do Republican politicians think that voting against their own constituents’ interests and justifying it with bullshit is good for them politically?”

      You propose a few different possible answers, but the question itself is a thumb on the scale. We can approach this another way and ask this: what about the BBB bill is in voters’ interests?

      There’s a child tax credit, which is an unambiguously good thing for whoever gets it. There is a childcare subsidy that doesn’t do anything to increase to supply of licensed childcare. Is that good or bad? Depends on whether you qualify for the subsidy and on what happens to the childcare market where you live. It is ambiguous at best.

      Then there is the SALT cap repeal, which is definitely in the short-term interests of wealthy residents of high-tax states.

      The rest of the bill is funding for climate change and various social policies. It is difficult to make assessments about the potential impact of these measures. But from a political perspective, we can say that if you are generally optimistic about the government’s ability to spend money and solve these problems, then you are likely to view the bill favorably. If you are skeptical about the government’s ability to spend money and solve these problems, then your view on the bill is going to be somewhere between sanguine and hostile.

      So yeah, Manchin is likely providing cover for a whole bunch of other Senators, both Republican and Democrat, who might be close to the fence.Report

      • Burt Likko in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        Sure, I think I allowed for this in my proposed explanation “a”: “they truly believe they are voting in their constituents’ bests interests because it turns out complex legislation is complex.” If a legislator in good faith thinks that this complex cocktail of different tax incentives and economic activity will not create a net benefit for her constituents, of course she should vote against it. This is the explanation of “representatives may actually be doing their jobs, or at least trying in good faith to do so.” It may be pollyanna of me but I think there is a decent amount of this going on in a lot of legislators’ minds, of both parties.

        As to your final note: “If you are skeptical about the government’s ability to spend money and solve these problems, then your view on the bill is going to be somewhere between sanguine and hostile.” Yeah that’s also probably right and where you fall on that spectrum may well be based on how much money it seems is being spent on a project you think has a low likelihood of success. A few million dollars? Whatevs. A few billions dollars? Now we’re starting to talk about real money, let’s think this through…Report

        • Saul Degraw in reply to Burt Likko
          Ignored
          says:

          Manchin is apparently on the record stating he thinks/worries parents will spend the child tax credit money on drugs. I have no idea whether he sincerely believes this or is just throwing out anything he can think of as an excuse to bring down BBB. Either way, it is a big indictment of how Manchin sees the citizens of West Virginia. Not even DiFi would say something like that about Californian citizens.Report

          • InMD in reply to Saul Degraw
            Ignored
            says:

            I believe he is expressing a view West Virginians have of other West Virginias. Many people and places I think have moved on from these kinds of sentiments but they are still out there. I suspect Manchin would not hold the position he does without a very good sense of how his voting constituency feels about it.Report

          • DensityDuck in reply to Saul Degraw
            Ignored
            says:

            He’s right. They will.

            If you think that we should pass the bill anyway, that’s on you.

            (I think we should pass the bill anyway, because I’m OK with the idea of some bums spending welfare checks on meth and freezing in the gutter if the upside is that children get to eat and wear clothes. But, y’know, I’m one of those sadists.)Report

            • Dark Matter in reply to DensityDuck
              Ignored
              says:

              if the upside is that children get to eat and wear clothes.

              To what degree is that a problem right now?

              Why does fixing it require numbers that are on the same scale as the defense department? Are we not spending anything for that right now?

              And if the core problem for those kids is their parents would rather buy drugs than food, how are we going to fix that?Report

          • Em Carpenter in reply to Saul Degraw
            Ignored
            says:

            Is there a source for this other than second hand “someone said Manchin said…”? because I don’t think he is on the record at all saying this.Report

            • Dark Matter in reply to Em Carpenter
              Ignored
              says:

              He’s on record being seriously angry with WH staffers over their rumor campaign. He didn’t say what specifically but I think this is that.Report

              • InMD in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                My guess is it came up in some way. Those perceptions are a real political consideration and it’s naive to pretend it isn’t. Of course it also wouldn’t surprise me if some critical context is missing or spin going on from the Biden camp to hit back at Manchin for the Fox News interview.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to InMD
                Ignored
                says:

                It sounds like a strawman attack and spin on who thought it.

                “The only reason to oppose this is if you think it will be used for drugs”

                “Whatever man, I still oppose it”.

                “Ah, ha! You really do think that”.Report

              • InMD in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                That’s certainly possible. But I also think it could be about attacks Manchin expects that could prove effective with the people he needs to keep his seat. I can’t imagine I’m the only person with people in my life who still see this stuff through the sort of 90’s welfare queen lenses, their own actual or near enough to working class status notwithstanding.

                All speculation but I could hear him saying ‘The Republican I assume I will face is going to tell everyone I voted to give cash to people who actually use it for drugs.’Report

            • InMD in reply to Em Carpenter
              Ignored
              says:

              There are ‘anonymous reports’ to that effect. As they are anonymous I believe caution is always warranted.

              https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/sen-joe-manchin-suggests-child-tax-credit-payments/story?id=81865740

              Nevertheless I don’t think it’s out of the realm of our political discourse. There’s a well established history of suggesting the beneficiaries of government programs are using the money to buy drugs or alcohol or some other thing outside of the purpose.Report

        • Saul Degraw in reply to Burt Likko
          Ignored
          says:

          There is also a lot of evidence that Manchin is just an old, old man who does not understand or care to understand how the world was changed. He doesn’t seem to understand the point of parental leave or how to it would work is the shining example here. It is hard to tell whether his obtuseness was deliberate or not.Report

  11. Chip Daniels
    Ignored
    says:

    Greg Sargent in WaPo thinks there might be a way to move Manchin to “Yes”:

    Which is why we should pay more attention to the news that Goldman Sachs has downgraded the U.S. growth forecast, in response to Manchin’s opposition to BBB. This is an indication of how isolated Manchin has become, and points to a new vulnerability in his position.

    In its note, Goldman declared it had reduced its projection of gross domestic product growth to 2 percent from 3 percent for the first quarter of 2022, and reduced it by a bit less for the second and third quarters.

    It won’t of course, but isn’t it pretty to think so?

    Something like 68% of his own constituents tell pollsters that they want the child tax credit, but is Manchin in any danger of a “Pro-BBB” primary?

    Doubtful.

    The people who vote for Manchin, or the Trumpists, put economic concerns at the bottom of their list, with grievance and culture war at the top.Report

    • PD Shaw in reply to Chip Daniels
      Ignored
      says:

      If you believe statements such as "polls show BBB is super popular in West Virigina!" then I have a bridge over the Monongahela River to sell you. BBB polls just barely better than breakeven nationally. It is not going to be popular in a state Biden lost by 39 points.— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) December 20, 2021

      Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to PD Shaw
        Ignored
        says:

        Isn’t it like how KYNect was very popular in Kentucky, while Obamacare was hated?

        That is, 68% of WV approves of the components of BBB but hates the package?

        Or like how Trumpists bitch and moan about corporations and elites but hate New Deal liberalism?

        I mean, it should be clear that economic conservatism itself doesn’t hold a lot of appeal for most of the Republican voting base, other than as a label attached to culture war grievance.Report

        • PD Shaw in reply to Chip Daniels
          Ignored
          says:

          It’s kind of like a small poll taken in August of a BBB plan that didn’t pass the House is not meaningful. Also, a poll concluding that 56% of WV Republicans support BBB should be treated with skepticism.

          A more recent national poll from NPR Marist, has the BBB that passed the House supported by 41% of adults, opposed by 34% with 25% unsure. Link That breaks down to approval of 74% of Democrats; 36% of Independents; and 13% of Republicans.Report

    • j r in reply to Chip Daniels
      Ignored
      says:

      I am not exactly sure what Sargent’s point is there, but he either does not understand the GS piece or is purposefully misrepresenting it. The GS analyst lowered his growth forecast under the expectation that there would be less government spending in 1Q22 than there would have been if BBB were passed this year.

      When the government spends more money in a given quarter, GDP growth goes up. When it spends less, GDP growth goes down, in that quarter. That is a purely mechanical operation based on the components of GDP. It involves no judgment about whether BBB is good policy or even if it would contribute to long-term growth.

      Sargent makes a separate but related point about inflation, which is that many analysts think that BBB would not contribute to higher or longer-lasting inflation. This is a factually accurate statement. But it’s also accurate that these same analysts haven’t exactly been correct about inflation so far.Report

  12. Philip H
    Ignored
    says:

    And now Manchin, who wants to remain The Man, is expressing support for many of the climate parts of BBB:

    Manchin, who last month said he would vote against the Build Back Better Act in its current form, seemed relatively open to its climate components in the first workweek of the new year.

    “The climate thing is one that we probably can come to an agreement much easier than anything else,” he told reporters.

    Asked about the climate provisions, he said, “There’s a lot of good things in there.”

    “We have a lot of money in there for innovation, technology, tax credits for basically clean technologies and a clean environment,” the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee chairman said.

    He really wants to be a king maker doesn’t he?

    https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/overnights/588278-energy-environmentReport

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