OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Leftist Democrats and the party’s progressive wing reacted angrily on Sunday to moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin’s stated refusal to back President Biden’s massive “Build Back Better” legislation, which contains trillions in new social and climate spending.
“Let’s be clear: Manchin’s excuse is bulls**t. The people of West Virginia would directly benefit from childcare, pre-Medicare expansion, and long term care, just like Minnesotans,” far-left Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar tweeted.
“This is exactly what we warned would happen if we separated Build Back Better from infrastructure,” she added, in reference to the ‘bipartisan’ infrastructure measure that was rescued by a handful of Republicans and in which leftists warned should have come after the ‘BBB’ votes.
Let’s be clear: Manchin’s excuse is bullshit. The people of West Virginia would directly benefit from childcare, pre-Medicare expansion, and long term care, just like Minnesotans.
This is exactly what we warned would happen if we separated Build Back Better from infrastructure. https://t.co/dhzcSk0qUV
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) December 19, 2021
She later appeared on MSNBC — where else? — to say essentially the same thing.
“We all knew that Senator Manchin couldn’t be trusted. The excuses that he just made, I think, are complete bulls**t,” she said.
Another progressive, Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, added: “He has continued to move the goalposts, he has never negotiated in good faith and he is obstructing the president’s agenda, 85 percent of which is still left on the table. And in obstructing the president’s agenda, he is obstructing the people’s agenda.”
Indeed, a recent NPR/Marist poll found that only a 41 percent plurality of voters actually support the legislation.
“Manchin is Manchin. But what kind of healthy democracy is structured in a way that can allow one man elected by 290,000 voters in one of the least populous states to thwart the agenda of his party and the President who was elected with 81 million votes. We need structural change,” tweeted Sherrilyn Ifill, head of the NAACP’s Legal Defense Council.
Manchin is Manchin. But what kind of healthy democracy is structured in a way that can allow one man elected by 290,000 voters in one of the least populous states to thwart the agenda of his party and the President who was elected with 81 million votes. We need structural change.
— Sherrilyn Ifill (@Sifill_LDF) December 19, 2021
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki gave the administration’s disheartened response:
Senator Manchin’s comments this morning on FOX are at odds with his discussions this week with the President, with White House staff, and with his own public utterances. Weeks ago, Senator Manchin committed to the President, at his home in Wilmington, to support the Build Back Better framework that the President then subsequently announced. Senator Manchin pledged repeatedly to negotiate on finalizing that framework “in good faith.”
On Tuesday of this week, Senator Manchin came to the White House and submitted—to the President, in person, directly—a written outline for a Build Back Better bill that was the same size and scope as the President’s framework, and covered many of the same priorities. While that framework was missing key priorities, we believed it could lead to a compromise acceptable to all. Senator Manchin promised to continue conversations in the days ahead, and to work with us to reach that common ground. If his comments on FOX and written statement indicate an end to that effort, they represent a sudden and inexplicable reversal in his position, and a breach of his commitments to the President and the Senator’s colleagues in the House and Senate.
And of course, Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont “independent,” was furious as well.
“Well, I think he’s going to have a lot of explaining to do to the people of West Virginia, to tell him why he doesn’t have the guts to take on the drug companies to lower the cost of prescription drugs,” he said. “West Virginia is one of the poorest states in this country. You got elderly people and disabled people who would like to stay at home. He’s going to have to tell the people of West Virginia why he doesn’t want to expand Medicare to cover dental hearing and eyeglasses.
“I’ve been to West Virginia a number of times, and it’s a great state, beautiful people, but it is a state that is struggling,” Sanders added.
“And he’s going to have to tell the people of West Virginia why he’s rejecting what the scientists of the world are telling us that we have to act boldly and transform our energy system to protect future generations from the devastation of climate change.”
For his part, Manchin opposes the legislation now for the same reason he has all along: Pouring another couple trillion dollars of newly printed money will only make the bad inflation the country is experiencing now even worse.