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Time For Dems To Take Joe Manchin Seriously

senator joe manchin

Democrats are getting anxious as 2021 nears its end and President Biden’s $5 trillion spending bill lacks the votes to pass.

The target of grumbling from anonymous sources, which may soon become the rage, is West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who remains a holdout.

But the fault here lies with Democratic leaders who misjudged Mr. Manchin as well as the political and policy moment.

Politico reports that some Democrats are pushing Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to bring the climate and social-spending behemoth to the Senate floor, daring Mr. Manchin to kill it.

“People have to face the reality of yes or no,” Majority Whip Dick Durbin told Politico, adding Mr. Manchin’s had “more than enough time.” Go ahead, make our day.

Mr. Manchin hasn’t committed himself either way on the bill, but he has been consistent in what he wants.

He made that clear in a memo he wrote in July in private talks with Mr. Schumer that later leaked to the media. His top-line spending amount for 10 years was $1.5 trillion, which he later increased to $1.75 trillion.

He has also been consistent in his calls to “pause” to evaluate the growing threat of inflation and has been equally consistent in seeking a bill free of budget gimmicks, fossil-fuel penalties, and new entitlements that aren’t means-tested or don’t require work.

His colleagues’ response has been to bull ahead as if Mr. Manchin doesn’t mean it. They assume that the West Virginian, as a deal-making politician, will eventually come around.

But they seem not to notice that Mr. Manchin’s concerns are as much economic as political.

He warned in the summer about inflation, and he’s been vindicated. Inflation is a growing threat to working households and real wages, no matter how much money the government spends on new welfare payments.

The White House response is the absurd argument that trillions more in government spending will somehow reduce inflation. The left is welcome to live in a fantasy world, but Mr. Manchin isn’t obliged to join them.

Democrats have also failed to take seriously the Senator’s $1.75 trillion spending limit, which is on top of the $7 trillion the feds have already spent in the last year.

The White House could have focused on one or two programs to pass with $1.75 trillion. But instead, they kept every progressive policy desire and are using gimmicks to make them appear to fit. They must think he’s a fool.

Everyone knows Democrats plan to make all of their new entitlement programs permanent.

The Penn Wharton Budget Model has scored the 10-year cost at $4.6 trillion, and the Congressional Budget Office recently scored it as close to $5 trillion if the programs are permanent. These aren’t conservative outfits.

Mr. Manchin has also sensibly insisted on means-testing for programs such as child-care subsidies and the child tax credit, though progressives insist these handouts must flow to even the upper-middle class.

And he rejected the left’s paid family-leave program, only to watch the House stuff it back in before passing the bill on a party-line vote in November.

The Senator has ample support for his positions in West Virginia, where a recent poll showed three-quarters of residents oppose the Biden plan. The wonder is that more Democrats don’t appreciate his points.

Voters in November rebuked the progressive agenda nationwide. Trying to ram through $5 trillion in spending when the public is most worried about inflation and Covid is an act of willful political malpractice. …

More than a few Republicans wouldn’t mind if Democrats marched into these fixed bayonets because it would likely mean a bigger GOP electoral victory next year.

But we’re more worried about the harm to the country from a bill that raises destructive taxes and creates new entitlements that will erode the work ethic and burden the fisc for decades to come. We assume Mr. Manchin is too.

For inexplicable reasons, Joe Biden misread his narrow electoral victory, and the narrow Democratic majorities on Capitol Hill, as a mandate for “transformational” change.

Mr. Manchin is offering the President and his party an escape route, and they should thank him for it.

Read more at WSJ

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