On Sunday morning Sen. Joe Manchin made a fairly resolute statement of opposition to President Biden's Build Back Better bill. While it left a tiny opening for some further negotiations, it has been received with a resounding thud by Democrats and the majority of the American people who voted for just this sort of change.

Manchin's remarks on Fox News (video below) included some wiggle room wherein his opposition was described as “Where I'm at right now.” Which implies that he could be somewhere else in the future. He also said that “This is a no on 'this' legislation.” Which implies that a different version of the bill might be acceptable. These are admittedly small cracks in what has been his consistent resistance to legislation that is broadly popular among his colleagues in Congress, and even his own constituents in West Virginia.

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It is inexplicable how Manchin could continue to obstruct this bill to the detriment of his state, his party, and his country. However, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki released a response to Manchin's latest defiant stand against the welfare of the American people. And she wasn't mincing words. The statement began by noting that…

“Senator Manchin’s comments this morning on FOX are at odds with his discussions this week with the President, with White House staff, and with his own public utterances. […] Senator Manchin promised to continue conversations in the days ahead, and to work with us to reach that common ground. If his comments on FOX and written statement indicate an end to that effort, they represent a sudden and inexplicable reversal in his position, and a breach of his commitments to the President and the Senator’s colleagues in the House and Senate.”

Okay, Psaki did mince her words a little bit, Had she been less diplomatic she might have accurately accused Manchin of dishonesty and betrayal. However, her statement then went on to dismantle Manchin's expressed concerns point by point. Some of the highlights include…

  • “The Build Back Better Act will have virtually no impact on inflation in the short term, and, in the long run, the policies it includes will ease inflationary pressures.”
  • “Build Back Better lowers costs that families pay. It will reduce what families pay for child care. It will reduce what they pay for prescription drugs. It will lower health care premiums. And it puts a tax cut in the pockets of families with kids.”
  • “The plan is fully paid for, is the most fiscally responsible major bill that Congress has considered in years, and reduces the deficit in the long run.”
  • “Build Back Better will produce a job-creating clean energy future for this country—including West Virginia.”
  • “Manchin will have to explain to those families paying $1,000 a month for insulin why they need to keep paying that, instead of $35 for that vital medicine.”
  • “He will have to explain to the nearly two million women who would get the affordable day care they need to return to work why he opposes a plan to get them the help they need.”
  • “Maybe Senator Manchin can explain to the millions of children who have been lifted out of poverty, in part due to the Child Tax Credit, why he wants to end a program that is helping achieve this milestone.”

Hopefully there is some chance that Manchin can still be swayed. If not, Democrats will have to pour more of there energy into passing the voting rights bills, and to electing more Democrats next year. Biden is walking a decidedly unstable tightrope. The last thing Democrats need is to shove Manchin into the eager arms the Republican Party, which would saddle us with Mitch McConnell as majority leader.

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It's a sad state of affairs when a Democrat is the barrier to other Democrats achieving the goals that they ran and won on just one year ago. But we must not forget that 48 of the 50 Democrats in the Senate support this bill. Zero of the 50 Republicans support it. It is the GOP that is the problem, not Democrats. And the solution is not to bash the Democratic Party and complain that they suck. The solution is to elect more and better Democrats.

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