by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Senator Joe Manchin declared on Sunday that he is a “no” on President Biden’s Build Back Better bill. Good. The radical legislation that sought to spend trillions of dollars to transform America at a time of historic debt was a bad idea that should never even have made it this far.
After months of back-and-forth negotiations, Manchin said, “I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I just can’t. I’ve tried everything humanly possible. I can’t get there.” The fact that he made the pronouncement on Fox News Sunday no doubt made it sting all the more for progressives, who entertained the fantasy that they had a mandate to enact New Deal–magnitude changes with among the narrowest congressional majorities in history.
In response to the news, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, issued a lengthy statement that read more like a temper tantrum than an earnest attempt to restart talks. The statement accused Manchin of lying to Biden and flip-flopping on his stated private support for the “framework” of the legislation. “Just as Senator Manchin reversed his position on Build Back Better this morning, we will continue to press him to see if he will reverse his position yet again, to honor his prior commitments and be true to his word,” the statement read.
While we cannot speak to any private assurances Psaki claims Manchin made to Biden, the West Virginia senator has publicly made his position clear for months, and … the bill in question violated many of the red lines he had drawn. It was more expensive, was not fully paid for, included accounting “gimmicks” he opposed, allowed for taxpayer funding of abortion, disguised the long-term cost by trillions of dollars by funding many projects for only a few years in hopes they would become permanent, created new programs when the government cannot pay for existing ones, and added to government outlays at a time when inflation is on the rise.