For example, the man who was elected with 290,000 votes defeated the man with 81,000,000 votes. West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin delivered the preliminary death blow on Sunday to a cherished bill from his party colleague, President Joe Biden. In an interview with conservative TV channel Fox News, Manchin said he cannot defend the bill in front of his voters.
This is more than a setback for Biden. In the short-lived dynamics of American politics, a president must achieve his most important achievements in the first year of his term in office. The demise of the so-called Build Back Better-law is a political defeat of the first order.
Immediately after the interview, the White House released a seething statement branding Manchin as a faithless liar. The text shows the disappointment of a rejected suitor. For months, Biden, his associates and Democratic Party political heavyweights have worked hard to persuade Manchin to support this comprehensive proposal for social and climate legislation.
Also read: Poor and right West Virginia wants government support, but in moderation
In a 50-50 Senate split between Democrats and Republicans, the conservative Democrat from predominantly Republican West Virginia has the casting vote on important files. In the program Fox News on Sunday said Manchin that hetried everything humanly possiblehas to support the law. “But I can not.”
The law would improve facilities such as care for the elderly, childcare and health insurance and make them cheaper. In addition, provisions for measures against global warming have been included. Biden also hoped it would help boost his plummeting popularity figures since the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. Manchin’s ‘no’ is a blow to the president who cannot wrestle himself from the tough crises of the pandemic and the economy, and who now rules with narrow political majorities in the House of Representatives and Senate, but will be powerless next year due to the midterm elections can be made.
Strong price increases
Concerns about sharp price increases over the course of this year (6.8 percent from November 2020 to November 2021) led Manchin to be the first of his reservations about the law. Second, he mentioned the high US government debt. The cost of Biden’s bill is estimated to be $2,200 billion over ten years. The financing will come entirely from higher tax revenues, according to the White House, mainly from higher taxes on the highest incomes.
Brought later on Sunday Manchin one more statement expresses his position to the outside world, in which he disputes that the costs will be limited to 2,200 billion. The “ardent advocates of the law,” writes Manchin, “continue to disguise the true cost of this law’s purpose.” He cites an independent budget chamber of Congress, which, with a few other variables, comes to an amount of 4,500 billion dollars.
Manchin also considers the climate provisions in the proposal. In short, he says that provisions of the law would accelerate the pace of the energy transition too fast. “Wanting to go faster than technology and the market can handle will have catastrophic consequences for Americans, as we have seen in Texas and California in recent years.”
That is a wonderful warning, because the massive power outage in Texas in 2020 and the wildfires in California in 2019 were mainly caused by the energy companies and regulators having failed to fulfill their (maintenance) obligations. It prompted critics of Manchin to reiterate the senator’s direct financial interests in fossil fuels: Manchin and his wife own a brokerage firm in the coal market and thus earned almost three times as much in 2020 as his senatorial fee.
Before Manchin made the video link with the Fox News editors, the president tried to talk him out of his intention by phone. Manchin didn’t take the call, revealed Politico. In its response, the White House said that Manchin’s statements are at odds with what he promised Biden “a few weeks ago at his home in Wilmington”: he was willing to talk about the “final points” of the law. He is said to have given Biden a written framework for the law, “of the same size and scope as the president’s proposal.”
In addition, in the statement, the White House points to a think tank that Inflation implications of Biden’s bill in a model, and which Manchin also invoked. The think tank’s calculations put a 0.2 percent increase in inflation over the next two years — “virtually no effect,” the White House called it. Manchin disagrees. He said West Virginia residents are already struggling with high prices “for gas, groceries, utility bills” and that he “cannot explain to them support for a bill that increases inflation.”
Analysts expect a stripped down or cropped version of the plan
The White House apparently saw a glimmer of hope. In Sunday’s statement, spokesman Jen Psaki wrote: “Just as Senator Manchin changed his mind about the Build Back Better bill this morning, so we will continue to pressure him to change his mind again and honor his previous commitments.” .”
US media speculated about the future of Biden’s social legislation and most analysts expect a stripped-down or trimmed-down version of the bill next year. That doesn’t even have to hurt Biden. A heavy element in the criticism of his bill is its colossal size. The analogy of the infrastructure law is urgent. There, too, Manchin initially objected to Biden’s expensive law. The bill was curtailed and even received support from a handful of Republicans.
news site FiveThirtyEight analyzed some recent polls last week among the American population and finds that the parts of the law are significantly more popular than the law itself. In none of the polls cited is a majority of those polled in favor of the Build Back Better law. On the other hand, a large majority of 76 percent supports the proposals for better care for the elderly. Who knows, maybe smaller, but more vital, laws may blossom in the rubble of Build Back Better.
A version of this article also appeared in NRC on the morning of December 21, 2021
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