I was going to not write about Joe Manchin again today, but then Joe Manchin got on Fox News Sunday today and announced he could not vote for the Build Back Better bill. Just couldn’t do it. He tried and tried to get himself to a place where he could vote for it, but he never arrived. So that’s that.
Politico is reporting that less than 30 minutes before his television appearance, Manchin sent an aide to inform the White House of what he was about to announce. WH staff tried to get him on the phone before the interview, but he wouldn’t take the call.
Jen Psaki then delivered a statement on Manchin that called Manchin a liar and a traitor without using those exact words. She did call Manchin’s announcement “a breach of his commitments to the President and the Senator’s colleagues in the House and Senate.” She laid out all the ways that Manchin’s excuses for not supporting the bill were total bullshit. Do read it.
In June we learned that Manchin more or less takes orders from No Labels, a “third way” sort of organization whose members include many billionaires — capital management, equity firms, hedge funds, etc. Even though he got “caught on tape,” so to speak, no one in mainstream media has been willing to call him out on this, I have noticed.
I thought there might still be hope for Build Back Better, in some greatly reduced form, but Joe Manchin just stabbed the president and every swing-district Democrat in the back, as well as every person who would have benefited from the bill, because the people who own him want to keep ordinary people’s grubby hands off what they consider their money and want Democrats to lose every election, and Manchin wants whatever they want.
It’s well known that Manchin makes money from fossil fuel investments, which puts him off any provisions in the bill meant to develop new energy sources. But if that were all that bothered him he wouldn’t be against all the rest of it. Which he is. I’m guessing his donors ordered him to pull the plug this weekend. Maybe right before Christmas fewer people would notice.
Up until now I have suspected there has been an agreement among congressional Democrats to not speak ill of Joe Manchin in public no matter how much he was pissing people off. I suspect that agreement just got nullified.
“Today, Senator Manchin has betrayed his commitment not only to the President and Democrats in Congress but most importantly, to the American people,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, whose left-leaning bloc, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, advocated fiercely for the bill.
“He routinely touts that he is a man of his word, but he can no longer say that,” she said. “West Virginians, and the country, see clearly who he is.”
Independent Bernie Sanders tweeted:
If Joe Manchin does not have the guts to stand up to the powerful special interests, he’s going to have to explain that to the people of West Virginia who are hurting and hurting badly. pic.twitter.com/U5OeNlk6ea
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) December 19, 2021
Bernie hadn’t really been holding back on criticizing Manchin in public before today, of course. Bernie caucuses with the Democrats but isn’t exactly one of them.
At Slate, Jim Newell writes that maybe something can be salvaged if Democrats just hand Manchin a pen and tell him to write the bill he would vote for. But this is a disaster, for President Biden, for the Democratic Party, for the nation, and for a world facing climate change.