Sunday, December 19, 2021


I thought there might still be hope for Build Back Better, in some greatly reduced form, but Joe Manchin just stabbed the president and every swing-district Democrat in the back, as well as every person who would have benefited from the bill, because the people who own him want to keep ordinary people's grubby hands off what they consider their money and want Democrats to lose every election, and Manchin wants whatever they want.
Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, said on Sunday that he could not support President Biden’s signature $2.2 trillion social safety net, climate and tax bill, all but dooming his party’s drive to pass the measure as written.

“I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation,” Mr. Manchin said on “Fox News Sunday,” citing concerns about adding to the national debt. “I’ve tried everything humanly possible. I can’t get there. This is a no.”
Presumably he's been planning to do this for months if he couldn't get the White House and the rest of the Democratic Party to give up. I assume he thought he could kill the bill merely by forcing endless negotiations right up until the Democrats' self-imposed deadline, but when they made it clear that they were willing to keep negotiating into 2022, he decided it was time to shiv them. I'm sure his poll numbers will go up in his extremely red home state, particularly among people who would have benefited from this bill the most, because that's the way this country works.


I see a lot of Democratic despair out there. (I know I'm generating quite a bit of it myself.) But one person who's rooting for Democrats -- or, rather, rooting against Republicans, at least at the moment -- has thoughts about how Democrats could bounce back. Yes, this guy:

Step 1 seems reasonable, in isolation. (We can debate the degree of child-care means testing.) Step 2 is where this falls apart. Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema won't support even partial filibuster reform (no, I'm not impressed that Manchin is discussing it) because their donors know it's a slippery slope that could theoretically lead to increases in their tax bills, although I'm not sure how that can even happen now in practice. And the notion that there'll be any Republican support for bills that curb GOP suppression of Democratic voting is ridiculously naive.

Moving on to Step 3, it would be nice to have the president attacking Republicans for obstructionism -- but it's hard to imagine them feeling "pressured and wedged," as Kristol says in Step 4. Kristol spent years as a Republican in good standing, so he's used to being able to put the opposition party in an awkward position with public pressure. He doesn't seem to understand that the members of his own party are impervious to this kind of pressure. Democrats are easily intimidated. Republicans aren't.

And, of course, none of this would convey the impression that "Biden's an activist centrist addressing real issues." Beyond the fact that some progressives would embrace the revised agenda, the mainstream and right-wing media would say in unison that Biden was offering a "progressive wish list," because both wings of the media despise Biden and know that label is the kiss of death.

So this plan is highly unlikely to work -- but it's a reminder of how much easier it is to be a Republican, because if you're a Republican and you really put your mind to it, you can change the narrative and put your opponents on the defensive just by putting in a little effort.

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