Wednesday, July 27, 2022


This seems like great news:
Joe Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday reached a deal on a bill that includes energy and tax policy, a turnaround after the two deadlocked earlier this month in talks on Democrats’ marquee party-line agenda.

In a joint statement, the two Democrats said the legislation will be on the Senate floor next week. It includes roughly $370 billion in energy and climate spending, $300 billion in deficit reduction, three years of subsidies for Affordable Care Act premiums, prescription drug reform and significant tax changes....

Following Manchin’s stated interest in limiting a party-line domestic policy bill to health care and lowering prescription drug prices, Democrats were expecting to pursue a bill that did not include climate or energy provisions. But Manchin and Schumer quietly continued negotiating behind the scenes, mostly through staff, leading to a surprise breakthrough while Manchin was sidelined with Covid.
Apparently Manchin has pledged not to yank the football away this time -- as Jonathan Chait notes, Manchin's statement on the agreement "notably says he 'will vote for' the bill." So: champagne time?

Not yet. Chait writes:
Passage, however, is not assured. Kyrsten Sinema, who has objected to proposals to tax the wealthy, did not sign on to Manchin’s statement, and her support is not yet certain. When reached by a reporter after Manchin’s announcement, she had no comment. A cabal of House Democrats has also publicly opposed taxing the rich. Some of them, representing affluent blue-state districts that were hit by the elimination of the state and local tax (SALT) deduction imposed by Republicans in 2018, have vowed to vote against any bill that fails to include relief. Manchin’s statement seems to rule out any such relief, saying “our tax code should not favor red or blue state elites with loopholes like SALT.” Manchin appears to be daring them to kill Biden’s signature domestic proposal.
Or is Manchin hoping they'll kill it? Have the plutocrats who give generously to Manchin, Sinema, and that House cabal (which is led by New Jersey's Josh Gottheimer) decided it's time for someone other than Manchin to be the villain? Or will he take on the villain role again in response to Gottheimer forcing SALT relief into the House version of the bill?

Years ago, right-wing pundit Glenn Greenwald (then posturing as a progressive) wrote a piece for Salon in which he laid out the idea of the "rotating villain" in Democratic politics. His arguments was that Democrats never actually want to pass progressive legislation -- it's all elaborate theater. Greenwald argued that there always seems to be a reluctant moderate whose unwillingness to endorse progressive legislation scuttles it, sometimes after the moderate has claimed to favor the provisions of the legislation; this, said Greenwald, is an elaborate farce cynically engaged in by the entire Democratic Party, or at least its leadership.
This is what the Democratic Party does; it's who they are. They're willing to feign support for anything their voters want just as long as there's no chance that they can pass it....

The primary tactic in this game is Villain Rotation. They always have a handful of Democratic Senators announce that they will be the ones to deviate this time from the ostensible party position and impede success, but the designated Villain constantly shifts, so the Party itself can claim it supports these measures while an always-changing handful of their members invariably prevent it.
It couldn't possibly be the case that plutocrats routinely buy off enough Democrats (as well as all Republicans) in order to scuttle bills they don't want. No, it must be that the party itself doesn't want these bills passed.

Some of you might think Greenwald's theory makes a lot of sense. Maybe I'm the naive one here. But I'll stick with my theory: The villains are rotated, but it's stinking-rich megadonors who do the rotating, not the party.

And they might do it again. So don't assume you'll get an opportunity to uncork that champagne.

No comments: