ChrisWeigant.com

Hope Joe Manchin Is Enjoying The Show

[ Posted Thursday, May 13th, 2021 – 16:27 UTC ]

We are in the midst of a bit of Washington Kabuki theater, which is underway with a very specific audience in mind: Senator Joe Manchin. The entire exercise is designed to prove to him that Republicans are fundamentally incapable of compromise and are not negotiating in good faith with President Joe Biden and the Democrats on anything, including things that used to be fairly universally-supported, such as infrastructure. So I do hope Senator Manchin is paying attention.

Joe Biden probably sincerely does want to work with Republicans, because he knows that picking up a handful of Republican votes in Congress would insulate him from all the cries of "partisan legislation" from the right. He also is old enough to remember when Democrats and Republicans weren't split on purely ideological lines, when conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans still existed in both the Senate and the House. So it's kind of nostalgic for him to even try to get bipartisan support. But Biden also remembers the endless stalling Republicans did under Barack Obama, and how they wound up with precisely zero GOP votes at the end of the process. So he's determined not to fall into that trap again.

He will accomplish this with deadlines. He has set Memorial Day as the deadline for his American Jobs Plan, and if he determines there has been no significant progress on a compromise by then, then Biden will push Chuck Schumer to just lump the whole thing with his American Families Plan and pass it with only Democratic votes (using budget reconciliation). The question of when we get to this point, though, has always been whether Manchin will go along with it or not.

Manchin did, after all, vote for Biden's first big legislative success, the American Rescue Plan, but only after demanding last-minute tweaks (just to remind everyone that he has the final voice on whether Biden can get anything done or not). So he may well fall into line with the next two big bills Biden has proposed. But only -- only -- after he has been satisfied that Biden truly tried to get bipartisan support but failed in the face of Republican bad-faith negotiating and continued universal GOP obstructionism.

Which is why this Kabuki play has even been staged, really. So, like I said, I hope Manchin is playing close attention and gives the production a good review at the end of it.

Yesterday, Biden met with all four congressional leaders: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. This was the first such official meeting between Biden and all four top congressional leaders. McConnell, true to form, drew a line in the sand over Biden's legislative plans: the 2017 Trump tax cut was an inviolable red line and any attempt to raise the corporate tax rates or raise any taxes on wealthy individuals would not get a single Republican vote. McConnell seems to think that raising the gas tax is somehow an easier political sell to the public, which is just downright bizarre (I cannot remember the last time a Republican proposed or even expressed support for hiking the gas tax). If I were Joe Biden, I would have immediately demanded a list of the 10 Republican senators who were on board with hiking gas taxes and would vote to do so, because to me this is an absolutely unbelievable concept. It was only a couple weeks ago that Republicans were loudly promising to "stop the Democrats from raising the gas tax," in fact.

Biden's red line is to not accept any taxes for people making less than $400,000 a year, which definitely includes a gas tax hike (call it a "user fee" all you want, it's still a tax hike on ordinary Americans). The White House has said this is completely off the table, for Biden.

Today, Biden met with key Senate Republicans for another session of wheeling and dealing. But I seriously doubt much is going to happen as a result of this meeting. One of the leading Republicans stated before the meeting took place that she thought that "how to pay for it" wasn't even going to be discussed in the meeting, since the two sides are not just extremely far apart but their solutions are kind of mutually exclusive -- both ideas are behind the red lines the other side has drawn, in other words. That doesn't leave a whole lot of room for movement either way.

Putting off such a key discussion also seems to be another case of Republicans trying their patented "big stall" tactic. "Oh, sure, we can talk about that later -- after we spend lots and lots of time haggling over the final cost of the entire bill," essentially means: "We are never going to talk in any meaningful way about how to pay for it and will keep stringing you along for as many months as we think we can get away with."

Biden has set his deadline, though, at Memorial Day (which falls at the very end of this month). This leaves two-and-a-half weeks more for the Kabuki show to play out. Memorial Day is when Biden will assumably call Manchin down to the White House for a chat. Biden will be able to point to all this time he's taken trying to come to a compromise, with nothing to show for it. The two sides are just never going to agree on a way to raise the revenue, and chalking the whole thing up as deficit spending is not very likely either. Neither side will cross their own red line, leaving them miles apart. Manchin has already come out against a gas tax hike, so (hopefully) he won't defect to the GOP position on this.

"All they're doing is stalling!" Biden will be able to tell Manchin. Then hopefully they'll both adopt a "more in sorrow than in anger" tone and start talking about passing Biden's agenda with just Democratic votes. Manchin will no doubt demand a few pounds of flesh (he's already gotten a rather large one, as when Biden proposed raising the corporate tax from 21 to 28 percent, Manchin shot back that he would only agree to increasing it to 25 percent. Biden hasn't formally agreed to this, but he will. Manchin will no doubt extract other such changes to the bill, just to prove how much weight he now is able to throw around. But at the end of the day (again, hopefully), Manchin will then vote for the package.

Mitch McConnell's Republicans are just never going to help Joe Biden score a huge political victory. Why should they? They'll all be running in next year's midterms on the themes of either: "Biden is ineffective, he can't get anything done," or: "Biden is moving too fast, we have to act as a brake on him." Helping Biden pass a big historic bill isn't going to feed into either one of these campaign themes for Republicans, to state the obvious.

Most Democrats are already painfully aware of this. They know that in order to even have a chance next year of retaining (or even building upon) their razor-thin majorities in both houses of Congress is going to depend on whether they can brag to the voters about all the good things a Democratic Congress has accomplished. So most Senate Democrats are champing at the bit to just circumvent the filibuster and pass some big ideas into law as quickly as possible.

But Joe Manchin isn't. Joe Manchin has his own agenda, which mostly consists of raising his own political profile as the "most important senator in Washington" and making sure that everyone knows it. He has already accomplished this, in fact. Joe Biden is staging this entire Kabuki negotiating drama for Manchin's sole enjoyment. So I do hope he's paying close attention, because when it comes to an end, it really will be impossible for him to attempt to claim that bipartisanship is still possible, if elusive. Biden is systematically proving to Manchin that this is nowhere near true, so let's hope the performance is convincing enough to allow Manchin, in the end, to reluctantly allow a Democratic president with a Democratic Congress to actually get some big and important things done. Because the alternative is another congressional session of complete and utter gridlock.

-- Chris Weigant

 

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

11 Comments on “Hope Joe Manchin Is Enjoying The Show”

  1. [1] 
    John M from Ct. wrote:

    OK analysis, I guess, but I found myself asking quite a number of times, "How do you KNOW this is what is going on? How do you KNOW what Biden and Manchin and the gang are playing at?" Is this just a restatement of a general pundit consensus? - a gut feeling that it HAS to be true because nothing else makes sense? - or a studied reading of almost-hidden tea leaves coming out of Washington that no one else but you has noticed or decoded?

  2. [2] 
    Kick wrote:

    CW: It was only a couple weeks ago that Republicans were loudly promising to "stop the Democrats from raising the gas tax," in fact.

    Noticed that too, did you? Pretty sure it wasn't lost on Biden either. Perhaps the GQP has just knee-jerk confused Biden with Trump; it was Trump who originally proposed a hike on gas taxes during "infrastructure week," and Republicans who opposed it.

    I hope the Trumpanzees are paying attention as the GQP shoots the middle finger at Trump and proposes the same tax hike they shot down... or is the GQP not interested in negotiating in good faith... just to state the obviously obvious.

  3. [3] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    If it was the financial sector that needed immediate action there would have been a trillion or two agreed on in a week or two.

    And that is probably already in and agreed on.

    What they are arguing about is the crumbs for the rest of us.

    And when you have people desperate enough to follow you for crumbs you don't dump all the crumbs in a pile right at the start.

    You leave a trail of crumbs leading into the kill zone (the 2022 elections).

    Manchin has the power he has because Biden and the Deathocrats need that excuse.

    Just three or four Senators could use the same strategy as Manchin to get things like a 15 dollar wage or BMI, medicare for all or at least medicare for all with a private option but they do not.

    It's the same basic principle as the nonsense argued about the studies on a BMI. They are just an excuse to delay action now.

    It takes a year or two to set up trials and studies, a few years to run them, they can be set up to fail or be inconclusive so that the few years of studying the results can show it doesn't work or needs more study and before you know it ten years have passed and nothing has been done.

    When the financial sector needed money there were no proposals to study the problem and set up a trial on one small company to see how it would work.

    The financial sector were like audience members of the Oprah show when "You get a car and you get a car...".

  4. [4] 
    Kick wrote:

    Death Harris
    3

    It takes a year or two to set up trials and studies, a few years to run them, they can be set up to fail or be inconclusive so that the few years of studying the results can show it doesn't work or needs more study and before you know it ten years have passed and nothing has been done.

    Just like your website where "nothing has been done."

    Death Harris has a shit-ton of solutions for everything except himself. *laughs*

  5. [5] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    McConnell, true to form, drew a line in the sand over Biden's legislative plans: the 2017 Trump tax cut was an inviolable red line and any attempt to raise the corporate tax rates or raise any taxes on wealthy individuals would not get a single Republican vote. McConnell seems to think that raising the gas tax is somehow an easier political sell to the public, which is just downright bizarre (I cannot remember the last time a Republican proposed or even expressed support for hiking the gas tax).

    Actually, I believe that McConnell seems to think that raising the gas tax is somehow an easier political sell to those members of the public that McConnell truly cares about — the ultra rich! If McConnell knows that he is gonna upset one group (either the GOP’s voting base or the GOP’s donor base) no matter what he does, you can confidently wager that it will be the voter base he’ll upset every time!

  6. [6] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Kick,

    or is the GQP not interested in negotiating in good faith...

    DING! DING! DING! WE HAVE A WINNER!!! I am sorry, but the GOP are still the Party whose Party Platform says that they believe and support whatever Donald J. Trump tells them to — despite the fact that he led the bloody insurrection on January 6th.

    There is no reason to believe that they will ever do anything in “good faith”!

  7. [7] 
    John M from Ct. wrote:

    Listen on [5]

    What you say about McConnell preferring to anger the voters rather than the contributors sounds right, but has he ever actually done that? When has the crafty old turtle actually passed a law that angered the GOP's non-rich voters, but pleased the wealthy class? As far as I can remember, his gift is that he manages never to cross either group.

  8. [8] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    [7] JMfC,

    I think it is more that the voter base only gets angry when they are told to be angry! At least being publicly angry about any subject matter. They are too afraid to think for themselves and risk being kicked out of the party! I know a lot of Republican voters who are unhappy with a large portion of the Party’s positions, but still feel it’s better to keep their opposing views to themselves than to stand up and demand change. Going with the flow is so much easier than fighting against the current!

  9. [9] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Kick-
    Not true. I came up with the approach and have done the same things or more than many others have done. It is people like CW that have not met their responsibility to inform citizens about One Demand.

    Yes, I do have a shit-ton of solutions for everything but myself because I have done what I should do.

    Just because it hasn't yielded results because of people like CW failing to behave propoerly doesn't mean I have not done anything.

    CW is the one that hasn't done anything- except shill for the big money Deathocrats which is nothing that could be considered an accomplishment or anything to be proud of.

    How could actions leading to the deaths of nearly 600,000 Americans from covid alone be considered an accomplishment or anything to be proud of? (Not to mention the hundreds of thousands that have died from other failures of the two-party lie and millions around the world it has killed.)

  10. [10] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Listen (8)-
    And Deathocrat supporters are always accepting of opposing views and never attack anyone that stands up and demands change?

    Glass houses.

  11. [11] 
    Kick wrote:

    Death Harris
    9

    Not true. I came up with the approach and have done the same things or more than many others have done.

    Excuse me for stating the obviously obvious that you didn't invent small donor campaigns or citizens not voting, and claiming you've done the "same things" many others have done is an admission if I ever heard one.

    It is people like CW that have not met their responsibility to inform citizens about One Demand.

    It's no one's responsibility to shill for your half-baked bullshit mountain.

    Yes, I do have a shit-ton of solutions for everything but myself because I have done what I should do.

    Yes, you do have a shit-ton of solutions for everything, and you definitely whine incessantly about inaction in everyone else while you sit on your lazy ass and complain how no one is doing anything. Lazy ass doing nothing except whining about others not doing enough whose "go to" retort is "glass houses." *laughs* You can't make this shit up!

    Just because it hasn't yielded results because of people like CW failing to behave propoerly doesn't mean I have not done anything.

    Your endless trolling of a man's blog has yielded no results because he has failed to "behave propoerly"! *laughs* It's his blog, moron; he decides what is proper.

    Stopped reading right there. Seen one of your comments... seen all the drivel and spew already. *laughs*

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