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If Kyrsten Sinema was the first Democrat to breach the gates of the Biden administration’s domestic agenda, Joe Manchin kicked the door wide open and showed others the way.
Just before a weary nation paused for the holiday weekend, the West Virginia Democrat took a hatchet to the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion spending package, which has become the crown jewel on the left’s legislative wish list.
In a guest Wall Street Journal column, Manchin accurately accused the bill of having, “no regard to rising inflation, crippling debt or the inevitability of future crises” and said “ignoring the fiscal consequences of our policy choices will create a disastrous future for the next generation of Americans.”
Of course, Manchin has perfected the kabuki dance of talking the moderate talk before falling in line with his party’s liberals. In 2021 alone, he cast the tie-breaking vote for Biden’s first $1.9 trillion spending package and the so-called For The People Act in June.
But if Manchin’s opposition is genuine, it marks the latest blow in a sea of setbacks for Biden. With his razor-thin congressional majorities, the president’s domestic agenda was already on thin ice. The fiasco in Afghanistan robbed Biden of precious political capital. Arizona’s Sinema has remained steadfast in her opposition.
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Now, the real question is where are the other “moderate” members of the Democratic caucus?
As the political ground crumbles beneath Biden’s feet, opposing the left’s $3.5 trillion package is becoming easier by the day. Also known as the “Bernie Budget,” (the Vermont socialist has hit the road trying to sell it), it includes the worst provisions that party leaders knew they could not stuff into the smaller infrastructure package while keeping a straight face about any semblance of “bipartisanship.”
It is chock full of giveaways to powerful special interest groups in the coalition. For the Green New Dealers and the limousine Liberals, there are huge tax hikes on energy producers and corresponding giveaways for wind turbines, solar panels and electric vehicles.
For the labor unions, it includes the “PRO Act,” a pet project of Sanders that would line union coffers with cash so they can elect more liberals. For the immigration groups, there is amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants.
The summer marked a decided shift in the political winds. Biden’s approval numbers took a nosedive.
Most galling, perhaps, is the blatant hostility and targeting of many private sector companies, especially those responsible for developing the lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines. The budget would be funded in part via massive tax increases and government meddling in Medicare Part D negotiations. The net result would be a socialist takeover of the drug industry, restrictions on medication choice and outsourcing drug manufacturing and innovation to hostile nations like China.
The summer marked a decided shift in the political winds. Biden’s approval numbers took a nosedive, and next year’s midterm elections are shaping up to be a sharp rebuke on his leadership and his party.
Here, history can be a useful guide. When voters soured on the overreach of the Obama-Biden administration in 2009, Democrats lost 63 seats in the House and six seats in the Senate in 2010. Many of those lawmakers had aided and abetted an agenda wildly unpopular with the electorate. They could not make a convincing case to voters that they had been anything but an enabler of an experiment gone horribly wrong.
Today, these lawmakers have a chance to avoid the fate of their doomed predecessors. They do not have the luxury of another two years to right the ship before voters have their say. The clock is ticking.
Because the Senate is evenly divided and because the partisan $3.5 trillion boondoggle needs every single member of the majority to move forward via reconciliation, any one member of the Democratic caucus has the power to kill this bill in its tracks.
It is never too late to do the right thing, but the time to speak up is now. Silence is complicity. Stopping this $3.5 trillion budget would be a positive start.
The stakes are high. Voters are watching. Let’s hope these senators allow common sense to prevail over blind partisanship.