Here’s the Senate’s Let America Rot Caucus

Something else I don’t want to write about any more is Joe Manchin. Maybe if we all close our eyes and make a wish he’ll disappear.

He was back on the Sunday talk shows explaining, badly, why he will try to eviscerate the Democrats’ budget reconciliation bill. Do read Joe Downie, Joe Manchin’s Selfishness, about Manchin’s malicious, destructive obstinance. I want to quote just this part:

new report from Type Investigations and the Intercept on the coal companies that made his fortune found that “for decades,” Manchin’s coal firms “have relied on mines and refuse piles cited for dozens of Mine Safety and Health Agency violations, multiple deaths, and wastewater discharging that has poisoned tributaries feeding into the Monongahela River, as hundreds of thousands of tons of carcinogenic coal ash are dumped across Marion County.”

While Manchin doesn’t own the mines and power plants polluting the state, his businesses have benefited handsomely from them. Since he joined the Senate 10 years ago, the investigation found, he has “grossed more than $4.5 million” from his firms, according to financial disclosures. As the article notes, Manchin has said his ownership interest is held in a blind trust.

No doubt Manchin would bristle at the suggestion that his opposition to the reconciliation bill and its climate provisions would have anything to do with their impact on his personal wealth. Even giving him the benefit of the doubt, though, the theme remains the same: Manchin gets his, while everyone else can fend for themselves.

Naturally he doesn’t see any big rush in preparing infrastructure for climate change.

Brigid Kennedy, The Week:

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), who has previously referred to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) as “the new Mitch McConnell,” took aim at the West Virginia lawmaker once again Monday morning, this time for his refusal to back Democrats’ $3.5 trillion spending package at its current cost.

“When we talk about a sense of urgency, people are losing their lives and their livelihoods right now because our infrastructure is 100-years-old and climate change is here to stay,” said Bowman on CNN’s New Day, recalling the damage Hurricane Ida wrecked on his district and constituents. “So it’s important for Senator Manchin and others to understand people are dying everyday … and we have to go big right now in this moment. It’s now or never when it comes to infrastructure and climate change, and Hurricane Ida proved that to be true.”

When asked what happens if Manchin holds firm on his price tag concerns, Bowman reminded host John Berman that “we still have a couple of weeks to get this worked out,” adding that “it’s important for the American people to know that this is the Democratic agenda in terms of Democratic leadership.”

That’s a hard message to get across, however, in the absence of any real legislative achievement.

Another charter Democratic member of the Let America Rot caucus, Kyrsten Sinema, has been relatively quiet for about the past three weeks. It may have finally gotten through to her that she was pissing constituents off, although possibly not enough for her to change her position on reconciliation bill or the filibuster. She’s not pissing off Mitch McConnell, however. Mitch recently said of Manchin and Sinema, “I pray for them every night, I wish them well, we give them lots of love.” So sweet.

I don’t know that the Senate Let America Rot caucus has any other firm Democratic members. (All Republicans are in on it, of course.) Sen. Mark Warner recently said he was considering voting against it, but that’s because he wants more money added for housing assistance. I can support that. But that also shows us there will be a lot of work to do to get the thing done.

Progressives are still staying they’ll kill the smaller bipartisan bill if the larger bill fails. I’m also seeing a lot of commentary saying that Manchin just wants some kind of cut out of the bill he can take “credit” for, and then he’ll vote for it. The question is, of course, how much? Conventional wisdom says Sinema will buckle if she’s the only opponent left. We’ll see.

Sinema and Manchin

8 thoughts on “Here’s the Senate’s Let America Rot Caucus

  1. I think their message is less "Let America rot," and more "I'm sorry, I have but one vote, and it's already bought."

    I have an idea, though.

    How about instead of demanding major legislative help, we instead ask Congress to help those of us who can't buy our own politicians, by at least subsidizing us so we can acquire for ourselves the necessities we and our families will need to survive in the future?

    Things like water-wings, sunscreen, and fireproof clothing for climate change; and Kevlar underwear to ward off bullets from all the armed loons who are packing, or soon will be.

    Well?  Whadayathink?


    • I think for most the correct answer for Americans is to the question what do you think is probably: You are screwed and you don't even know how screwed you are.

  2. Gulag, I like it!  However, I'd add a different twist on the end game.

    In 2019, lobbyists spent $3.51 US billion dollars "lobbying" Congress.  Suffice it to say, they want something in return for those dollars, and what they expect to get back is a return on that investment, in terms of policy.  That money represents the interests of a tiny percentage of the voting constituency.  Let's say, the top 1% and smaller.  This means when it comes time to sit in the "smoky back rooms" where the "sausage gets made" the vast majority of voters don't have any representation.  Technically, democracy says we do, but practically speaking, because of this, we don't.  This explains Manchin, Sinema and the "moderates."  It explains damn near the entirety of the GOP caucus.  Looking at it this way, its easy to see that the vast majority of congress, both democrats and republicans, prioritizes representation, for the most part, the interests of a relative tiny minority, those spending the lobbying dollars.  And that ain’t us. 

    Forget levelling the voting constituency playing field.  How do “we” get a seat at the table?

    I propose the American Democracy patriotic Constituent Leveling Act, funded annually by $5 billion dollars, a relative pittance in the scheme of things.  The money cannot go to any group involved in any way with the distribution of the $3.51 billions annually in “lobbying” dollars, but must go to the underserved groups to give them a seat at the table.  Imagine if climate change activist groups had access to hundreds of millions in lobbying dollars?  Or those advocating for M4A?  Or the SPLC and NAACP?  Congress would swirl around them like piranhas going after chum in the water.

    If the SC has basically said money is legitimate “speech” in a democracy, then truly democratize it and pass a bill to fund those of us who don’t have it, so we can have a seat at the damn table!


    •  Looking at it this way, its easy to see that the vast majority of congress, both democrats and republicans, prioritizes representation, for the most part, the interests of a relative tiny minority, those spending the lobbying dollars.  And that ain’t us. 

       Maha has in the past so aptly encapsulated that same concept with the down home expression...You dance with the one who brung ya

  3. I have said for decades that the reason that we have local and state governments are as a proving grounds to prove to the 1/10th of 1%ers that when they buy politicians they will stay bought.

    In his day, Will Rogers may have been correct when he said "We have the best Congress that money can buy".  That is outdated in the age of Citizens United;  now, we just have politicians that money can buy and most of them can be bought cheaply.

  4. SadOldVet,

    I've often said that it's not the fact that our politicians can be bought that bothers me.

    It's how little cheap the purchase prices are.

    I'd rather be thought of as a high-price hooker, and not some cheap-trick working by the tunnels, waiting for some driver to signal his interest.

    But that's me.  Being known as easy's one thing; cheap's a different ballgame.

    But they don't seem to mind, though, do they?

    No pride in their craft…

  5. I'm delighted to see the consensus on big money in politics driving Manchin and Sinema. And y'all have a clear picture that the rot isn't limited to one party. 

    What's happening here is that the Democrats might discover huge power and popularity to taxing the rich. By now, most of you have seen the gown AOC wore to the Met Gala. Her message is their nightmare – about 15 tax brackets with the ultra-rich paying 50%. And no change for the 80% who live in the real world.

    The infrastructure bill is great for the US. The only group with pockets deep enough to cover a trillion-dollar package does NOT want to cough up that money. That's the WHOLE issue, not whether it's for green energy or climate change or cleaning up toxic waste sites. The people with money do not want to pay the government – they want to be paid BY the government.

    And more and more regular people are seeing the issue clearly while moron talking heads try to decipher what drives Manchin and his friends. Follow the money.


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