(UnitedVoice.com) – It’s not easy being a member of Congress. The act between representing and serving constituents and towing the party line is a delicate balance. It applies equally to members of both parties. Yet, the closer a member of Congress is to party orthodoxy, the easier it is to support major legislation. It’s becoming apparent if you’re not a Liberal or extreme Left-leaning politician in the Democratic Party, it’s extraordinarily difficult to compromise with party leaders.
This situation is the problematic position where Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) finds himself. On the one hand, he represents an overwhelmingly conservative state where over 60% voted for Donald Trump. He’s the only Democrat in West Virginia serving in any state or federal elected office. Yet, Manchin’s party has gone far-left and expects him to ram through massive social and climate change policies that do not align with West Virginia voters’ values.
On Tuesday, December 7, Manchin reiterated he’s not a Liberal, yet his voting record says, to this point, he’s voted in complete alignment with Biden 100% of the time. The fact is, he’s still a Democrat even if he’s not a far-Left Democrat. Nonetheless, he’s been firm about the partisan Build Back Better semi-Socialist agenda, and he continues to cast doubt about whether he’ll vote for it as inflation wreaks havoc on the economy.
The Question Is Not If, It’s When
To understand the debate between Manchin and Democrats, one needs to dig a little deeper at Manchin’s record and pay attention to how he parses words. On the surface, he sounds squarely against the partisan legislation. There’s no doubt Manchin’s against a few measures in the bill, and for good reason.
On the one hand, the West Virginia Democrat sounds Moderate to Conservative. However, one needs to think more clearly about what he’s saying. This way, when he does agree to pass something, Centrists and Conservatives won’t be shell shocked.
Manchin has not spoken out against radical policy proposals that would transform healthcare. He’s had numerous opportunities to say he wasn’t for expanding Medicare or the government’s deepening role in personal healthcare decisions, and he didn’t. He said Democrats who want to add or expand government interference in healthcare need to shore up the existing program before it goes bankrupt in 2026. Logically, one wouldn’t throw money on top of a program bound to go bankrupt. It’s clear he’s thought about the financial implications when most Democrats treat taxpayer dollars like Monopoly money.
Now, for certain, he’s against specific things. It’s purely a political calculation if he doesn’t want to get scolded at home. He must defend the energy industry because West Virginia is an energy state. He must protect Medicare as it exists right now because many poor people in his state depend on it. Yet, he must also appear to fight against government cradle-to-grave policies because his constituents are predominantly blue-collar, hard-working, highly independent people who don’t want the government taking care of them.
So, the question isn’t whether Manchin will ultimately balance his constituents and his party; rather, it’s a matter of when will the Senator vote to put a downpayment on government expansion?
“When” Is an Economic Issue
While Democrats try to force a vote on the bill before Christmas, Manchin is holding back. He does understand this much: The COVID relief bill he voted for in March contributed to the skyrocketing inflation his constituents are experiencing right now. He’s listened to Larry Summers and Steven Rattner blame Democrats for inflation. On Tuesday, the West Virginia Senator said the unknown about inflation is greater than the aspirations of Democrats in the partisan Build Back Better reconciliation bill.
He added Congress couldn’t continue to flood the market with money and admitted it’s what they’ve done. Kudos to him. He’s absolutely right. That doesn’t mean if inflation declines, he won’t buckle and cave. It doesn’t mean he won’t carve out some of the legislation to lower the cost. It doesn’t mean he won’t fight against the accounting gimmicks and tricks. Those are things he’s been doing the last six months. If Democrats come around and resolve those issues, they could still obtain hundreds of billions of dollars as a down payment towards future left-wing goals to transform America in a way Conservatives won’t see as positive.
What Manchin is really doing, whether intended or not, is forcing the Left to play the long game. Getting little bits at a time still arrives at the same place, long term. The GOP’s only solution would be never to lose an election again. That won’t happen, unfortunately. Obamacare was the blueprint. Once legislation is signed into law, it’s nearly impossible to overturn. Even with majorities in the House, Senate, and a Republican president in 2017, the GOP couldn’t obtain a consensus to eliminate, let alone scale down, Obamacare. Eventually, every bill undergoes revision, but it’s rarely amended downward or canceled.
So, ask yourself, will Manchin really kill the Democrat’s aspirations? It depends. If they aren’t willing to negotiate on his terms, then yes, he might kill the bill. However, he wants to give Democrats something to build on if they’ll take it. That’s what good Democrats do.
In the meantime, we sit, watch, wait, and hope Democrats continue to block one another until they get scared enough to back off in the face of the midterm elections.
Don Purdum, Independent Political Analyst
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