UPDATE [7/15/22, 11:04 a.m. EST]:
Manchin is denying pulling the plug on negotiations, per the Washington Examiner. He said, “I said, Chuck, until we see the July inflation figures, until we see the July Federal Reserve interest rates — then let’s wait until that comes out so we know that we’re going down the path that won’t be inflammatory to add more to inflation.” Manchin added, “He took that as no, I guess, and came out with this big thing last night.”
President Joe Biden and the Democrats’ hope of passing some kind of transformational legislation while they still control Congress has run into a familiar buzzsaw.
Their renewed efforts to secure a massive domestic policy win suffered a major setback after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) severely limited what he would support in a new economic package.
According to The New York Times, Manchin told Democratic leaders that “he would not support funding for climate or energy programs or raising taxes on wealthy Americans and corporations.”
It described his position as a “crushing blow to President Biden’s domestic agenda,” and means that any package would likely not address “anything beyond prescription drug pricing and health care subsidies.”
Sam Runyon, a spokeswoman for Manchin, said, “Political headlines are of no value to the millions of Americans struggling to afford groceries and gas as inflation soars to 9.1 percent.”
“Senator Manchin believes it’s time for leaders to put political agendas aside, reevaluate and adjust to the economic realities the country faces to avoid taking steps that add fuel to the inflation fire,” she added.
Democrats were apparently hoping to pass some massive package through Congress while they still have bare majorities in both chambers. In order to pass the Senate, all 50 Democrats would need to vote for the legislation — with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote — and without Manchin’s support, it cannot pass.
Part of Biden’s problem since taking office is that he appears to believe that he was elected with a mandate to transform the country, as opposed to stopping the chaos and bomb-throwing that marked the previous administration and trying to return to some kind of normalcy.
However, Manchin — who has repeatedly raised concerns about inflation — has been somewhat of a bulwark against new rounds of reckless, massive spending.
In December, Manchin dashed Democrats’ dreams of passing the massive climate change and social spending package known as the Build Back Better Act.
According to The Washington Post, the new package Democrats were hoping to pass, was supposed to “radically transform the country, reduce pollution, incentivize cleaner, greener energy and put more electric vehicles on the road.”
“They had hoped to seize on their rare majorities to deliver the investments necessary toward fulfilling Biden’s goal, reducing carbon emissions to half of their 2005 levels come 2030,” the paper explained.
Democrats also hoped to make changes to the tax code that would raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans.
Understandably, Biden and party leaders wanted to get something big done before the midterms to appease their base.
But their mistake was once again trying to pass transformation legislation with just 51 votes. When voters keep seeing that the party in power can’t get anything done, that does not tend to create enthusiasm among its voters.
And trying to set up some massive package only to see it massively scaled back or not pass at all months before the midterms is probably not something that will help Democrats on the ballot.
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