Charles Cooke of National Review Online explores recent statements from West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin.

Per Axios, Joe Manchin may be closer to realizing that the Democrats’ spending plans are ridiculous than his party had realized heretofore:

“Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is privately saying he thinks Congress should take a ‘strategic pause’ until 2022 before voting on President Biden’s $3.5 trillion social-spending package, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.” …

… I wrote recently that to take Manchin at his word is to conclude that he has to oppose most of the proposed plan. The United States just spent $6 trillion fighting COVID, and it’s horribly in debt. The deficit this year will be $3.2 trillion, and next year, and for every year thereafter, it will be $1.1 trillion. It would be an act of vandalism to make this worse, and, at some level at least, Manchin seems to know this.

Axios notes that “Manchin’s new timeline — if he insists on it — would disrupt the plans by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to vote on the budget reconciliation package this month.” Which is true, but which shouldn’t matter in the slightest to anyone outside of Washington, D.C. Neither of these bills are necessary, and the timetables for both are a contrivance. So Nancy Pelosi is vexed for a while? Who cares?

Presumably not Joe Manchin, whose state voted for Donald Trump in 2020 by around 40 points, and who is considerably less popular there than the Republicans are.

In response to this news, we will get a fresh round of calls to “primary him!” and “pressure him!” and “tell him what to do!” But they will all be guff. Joe Manchin hasn’t lost an election since 1996. He knows what he’s doing. One can only hope that he’ll now have the courage to say in public what he’s apparently started to say behind closed doors.