by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President Joe Biden’s economic agenda may rest on whether centrist Democrats are looking for an out so they do not have to vote for the social welfare and climate spending bill they are hoping to pass on a partisan basis.
If centrists want to get to yes, last-minute agreements will likely save the nearly $2 trillion legislation much like it did the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, handing the president, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi another much-needed victory.
But if Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and other centrists are looking for a reason to break with their party on the big spending bill, Wednesday’s inflation numbers gave them yet another.
“By all accounts, the threat posed by record inflation to the American people is not ‘transitory’ and is instead getting worse,” Manchin tweeted in response to the Labor Department’s report. “From the grocery store to the gas pump, Americans know the inflation tax is real and DC can no longer ignore the economic pain Americans feel every day.”
The 6.2% spike in consumer prices for the year ending in October could enhance concerns that excessive federal spending is already overheating the economy before Democrats advance Biden’s reconciliation measure. It is not, however, the only factor giving wary centrist lawmakers pause.
Republicans swept the statewide offices in Virginia and made gains in the Legislature despite the fact Biden won the commonwealth by 10 points a year ago. The GOP also came close to upsetting Democratic New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and ousted the state Senate president, a Democrat, with a lightly funded challenger.
These election results appear to confirm a raft of polling showing the president and the administration are unpopular. A USA Today/Suffolk University poll found Biden with a 38% job approval rating. Vice President Kamala Harris was even worse off at 28%.