I don’t remember electing Joe Manchin to run this country. He is a senator from West Virginia, not the president.
Last month, the real President Joe Biden introduced a $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan. Republicans had spouted about the need for infrastructure improvements for four years – and produced hollow palaver and no plans.
When President Biden put forth his plan, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, carrying the guidon for my wing of the party, tweeted, “This is not nearly enough.”
Other congressional progressives unveiled a THRIVE Act, calling for a $10 trillion infrastructure investment.
But, remarkably the Democratic left has been supportive of whatever progress can be made. They see the need for more; they accept less.
On the other side of the Democrats’ big tent we find Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, with the real influence of being one of 50 Democratic senators. This means that he can vote across the aisle and defeat Democratic legislation before it gets to Vice President Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote.
As reported by FiveThirtyEight, “I’m concerned about the House pushing an agenda that would be hard for us to maintain the majority,” Manchin told The New York Times.”
A popular former governor from a state almost as red as Oklahoma, Sen. Manchin has already flexed his muscles. Again, according to FiveThirtyEight:
” He’s already blocked President Biden’s nominee to run the White House Office of Management and Budget, and he forced congressional Democrats to make changes to the economic stimulus bill before he would provide his needed ‘yea’ vote. Manchin is also opposing proposals embraced by the Biden administration and most congressional Democrats to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour and to mandate background checks for nearly all gun sales.”
Manchin is also adamant about protecting the Senate filibuster, which lets minorities block legislation, and he’s not really keen about raising the corporate taxes needed to fund the infrastructure repairs. A Republican in Democratic clothing? Well, he does vote with the party most of the time.
I realize the need for Democrats to stay centered. Our left does not win national races. (The center manages to lose them, too.) Let the left originate ideas; let the moderates make them palatable.
But, the one-senator veto that Sen. Manchin exercises appeals mainly to the dwindling Republican minority who refuse to embrace fascism. There is talk of him perhaps switching parties. There is no hint that Sen. Manchin can bring Republicans under the bigger Democratic tent – or even that he wants to.
(Duncan resident Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democratic Party.)