Thank God for Senator Joe Manchin.
A political superstar in West Virginia, Joe Manchin has been in elected politics since 1982. He served in the West Virginia House and Senate and was secretary of state, governor, and has been the senior Senator since 2010.
And he’s a Democrat. He’s watched his state go from deep blue to deep red in a matter of a couple of decades. West Virginians voted 58 percent for Jimmy Carter in 1976. They gave Donald Trump 68.5 percent of the vote in 2020.
Manchin has been a fly in the radical Democrats’ ointment when it comes to the kind of “transformational” changes they want to impose on America. He single-handedly stopped the Democrats from imposing a $15-an-hour minimum wage in the last Covid relief bill. He has stuck up for the filibuster, despite enormous pressure from his Democratic colleagues who want to gut it.
Manchin’s power flows from simple math. With the Senate split 50-50, his party needs every single member of the Democratic caucus to vote for a bill that’s opposed by every single member of the Republican caucus.
Manchin made an appearance on the Hoppy Kercheval radio broadcast in West Virginia on Monday and proceeded to blow up Joe Biden’s carefully laid strategy to pass a gargantuan $2.3 trillion “infrastructure bill” that has a helluva lot more in it than just rebuilding roads and repairing bridges.
The bill is also a massive tax increase measure. It would raise corporate taxes from 21 percent to 28 percent — one of the highest in the industrialized world. Manchin says no. He told Kercheval that Biden’s plan to pay for infrastructure by raising the corporate tax rate to 28 percent is a non-starter and that “this whole thing here has to change.”
“The bill, basically, is not going to end up that way,” Manchin said in the interview. “If I don’t vote to get on it, it’s not going anywhere. So we’re going to have some leverage here. And it’s more than just me, Hoppy, there’s six or seven other Democrats that feel very strongly about this.”
Manchin said he would be comfortable raising the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 25 percent but said the United States has “to be competitive and we’re not going to throw caution to the wind.” Biden told reporters on Monday that he is “not at all” concerned about driving corporations overseas with the higher rate: “There’s no evidence of that.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that Manchin’s comments were part of the give and take of the negotiation going forward and defended Biden’s proposal to pay for his big spending bill as “responsible.”
You’ve got to give credit where credit is due. Calling a $2.3 trillion bill “responsible” when the government is running a $6 trillion deficit takes a lot of cojones.
In a telephone interview on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Manchin’s position did not surprise him. He described Manchin as just one piece of the Democrats’ complex and diverse 50-member majority.
“Joe Manchin, look, I always try and show him respect even when we’re disagreeing and arguing. And he’s going to make his viewpoints known and so is Bernie [Sanders], so is Elizabeth [Warren], and we’re going to have to all come together as a unit,” Schumer said.
There are several Republicans who would vote for a straight infrastructure bill to fix the roads and perhaps create an infrastructure bank that would hand out low-interest loans to states and local governments to repair aging sewage and water systems.
But jacking up taxes while coming out of a pandemic is just plain stupid. Manchin may be an unlikely national savior but currently, he may be the only one in Washington able to thwart the plans of the radicals.