West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin has enraged radicals in his party for refusing to support Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion Build Back Better spending bill and calling it “fiscal insanity”
Manchin objects not only to the cost, but also the tax increases and social welfare programs that “spend for the sake of spending.”
In a statement he released on Wednesday, Manchin left no doubt why Joe Biden will have to go back to the drawing board to get anything done.
“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,” Manchin said in the statement.
Manchin’s position on the reconciliation package dooms the bipartisan infrastructure framework to likely oblivion. Without Manchin’s agreement on the $3.5 trillion spending bill, House radicals will refuse to vote for the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.
Liberal Democrats say they plan to block the infrastructure bill in order to maintain leverage with party centrists on the cost and scope of the social welfare spending package.
Democrats want the bill to pay for a broad array of new government programs including free preschool and community college, paid family and medical leave, expanded Medicaid and Medicare benefits, extended child tax credits, and green energy policies aimed at ending the use of fossil fuels. The package requires approval from all 50 Senators, but Manchin of West Virginia and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona want to lower the cost of the measure and change some policy provisions.
Manchin, an old-fashioned lawmaker, wants to see an effort to fund these gargantuan social engineering plans.
“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,” Manchin said.
In addition to opposing the staggering cost of the legislation, Manchin wants changes to tax hikes Democrats plan to impose to pay for the bill, which he said would weaken the nation’s economic competitiveness and would hurt small businesses.
“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,” Manchin said.
Is Manchin saying that a lot of those taxes are unnecessary? Why yes. Yes, he is.
Manchin is still a Democrat and he’s negotiating with Biden to reach a top-line number on spending — probably no more than one trillion dollars. But that would be unacceptable to the radicals, who have staked their entire socialist enterprise on one primal multi-trillion-dollar thrust.
The reconciliation bill doesn’t only expand programs near and dear to the left’s heart. It would fundamentally alter the relationship between the citizen and the federal government. The left knows this and soft-pedals the revolutionary aspects of the bill. But Manchin is standing in the way.
Manchin is also objecting to changes to Medicaid that would create a government program to fund insurance for poor people — insurance that doesn’t contain Hyde Amendment protections for the unborn. Manchin says unless the Hyde Amendment language is included, the entire reconciliation package is “dead on arrival.”
With the continuing resolution likely to be approved on late Thursday or Friday, Democrats will still have time to get something done. But their window of opportunity is closing, and Biden appears reluctant to cut the legs out from underneath the radicals and reduce the spending bill to accommodate Manchin and the other centrists.