Far-left Senators are making a pilgrimage of sorts to the Senate offices of Joe Manchin, making their case to allow their pet program into the final version of the Build Back Better bill.
Manchin has left no doubt who the conductor is on the BBB train. And other Democrats have given up trying to shame him and are now scrambling to get his approval on several projects near and dear to the hearts of radicals.
Medicare expansion to include vision, hearing, and dental benefits is out—but not until considerable wailing and gnashing of teeth from Bernie Sanders nearly blew up the entire bill.
“The expansion of Medicare to cover dental, hearing and vision is one of the most popular and important provisions in the entire reconciliation bill. It’s what the American people want. It’s not coming out,” Sanders tweeted on Saturday.
Well, Bernie, yes, it is. And so is an expansive parental leave policy, climate change radicalism, and expanding Medicaid coverage to states that rejected it under Obamacare.
In short, the Build Back Better bill has gone from being a Sanders creation that funds the whole of the radical Democratic policy movement this century to something much different.
The reconciliation bill is gradually shifting from a Sanders product that encapsulates the policy thinking of the modern progressive movement to a much more business-friendly and targeted package of programs reminiscent of 1990s Clintonism.
So far, Bernie and his allies seem OK with all of this — or at least quiet. But as the Democrats prepare to unveil the final agreement, we would be surprised if there isn’t one more rebellion from the left to protest how much progressives have lost in the sausage-making so far.
It should be noted that what the Democrats are hoping to get done this week is to construct a legislative framework for the Build Back Better bill—not the language of lawmaking. One reason Sanders and his radical friends may be keeping their powder dry is that they will be writing most of the bill. He who writes the bill has the final say in what goes in it.
And while the targeted dollar amount—$1.75 trillion—might end up slipping closer to two trillion, if Manchin signs off on the framework bill, he will find it very difficult not to support the final product.
The big sticking point on both sides is Medicare expansion. Radicals are demanding it remain in the bill, while Manchin and a few other more rational Democrats want to wait on it.
The reason is simple: Medicare is a trainwreck already happening in slow motion. The Medicare trustees have warned the hospital insurance trust fund will be insolvent by 2025. Other parts of Medicare aren’t far behind. But Manchin wonders why Sanders and his radical allies want to pile on responsibilities for a program going broke?
“My big concern right now is the 2026 deadline [for] Medicare insolvency and if no one’s concerned about that, I’ve got people — that’s a lifeline. Medicare and Social Security is a lifeline for people back in West Virginia, most people around the country,” Manchin warned.
“You’ve got to stabilize that first before you look at basically expansion. So if we’re not being fiscally responsible, that’s a concern,” he added.
“I’ve always said that I believe that government should be your best partner, but it shouldn’t be your provider. We have a moral obligation to provide to those who have incapacities such as physical or mental. But everyone else should be able to help and chip in and all that. So that’s my mindset,” Manchin told reporters on Monday.
That’s an alien concept to Sanders and his radical friends.