With “Democrats” like this, who needs Republicans?
Over the weekend, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin vindicated the fears of many progressives and declared that he could not vote for President Biden’s blockbuster social investment package, the Build Back Better (BBB) bill. His announcement effectively kills any chance of President Biden passing any part of his ambitious agenda beyond a roads and highways bill everyone has already forgotten about and deprives millions of Americans of material improvements to their lives on the basis of transparently bullshit concerns about “inflation” and “spending.”
To add insult to injury, Manchin took to West Virginia radio on Monday and bragged that he knew “from the beginning” that he would never have supported President Biden’s bill, despite telling the president otherwise and stringing out the process for months on end simply for the sake of drama. Manchin acted in bad faith from the very beginning, holding the BBB bill hostage in order to get the infrastructure bill he actually wanted to be passed before flipping on a whim and now has the nerve to brag about it.
Manchin on WV radio saying he knew from the beginning he wouldn't support BBB, but let Democrats negotiate.
That he got to his "wits end" after staff (either White House or Senate) did *something* that angered him enough to just come out and say he was never going to get to yes
— Tara Golshan (@taragolshan) December 20, 2021
Manchin’s betrayal clearly blindsided the Biden administration, judging from the palpable fury in the White House’s response:
Lengthy statement from Psaki on news Manchin won’t support BBB: “Just as Sen. Manchin reversed his position on Build Back Better this morning, we will continue to press him to see if he will reverse his position yet again, to honor his prior commitments & be true to his word.” pic.twitter.com/1YiP1aOTrC
— DJ Judd (@DJJudd) December 19, 2021
But now that the infrastructure bill is passed, there is no more leverage to force him into voting for the BBB — which is exactly why a slew of progressives refused to vote for the infrastructure bill in the first place, because they knew that Manchin couldn’t be trusted.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, reports are now trickling out that Manchin was disparaging his own voters behind closed doors. While he publicly claims that the BBB is “too expensive” — just days after voting for close to a trillion-dollar military budget — behind closed doors, the yacht-owning millionaire told fellow Democrats that the poor would wasted child tax credit payments on “drugs” instead of taking care of their kids. He also claimed that people would abuse the paid leave policy, pretending to be sick so they could go on “hunting trips.”
His words are a monstrous show of cruelty to his own voters, who are some of the poorest people in the United States. The BBB bill was deliberately designed to benefit West Virginians in hopes of attracting Manchin’s support, but it appears that the well-being of the people whose interests he ostensibly represents isn’t as important as the corporate interests who funnel dark money into his war chest.
Even today, he’s threatening to defect and join the Republican Party — and by all means, let him go. What’s the point of having conservatives in our party if all they’re going to do is waste months of our precious “majority” watering down the party agenda that they supposedly support only to pull the rug out from under us at the last minute. Good riddance.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.