Home Agenda Joe Manchin destroyed Biden’s agenda, but saved many in the end

Joe Manchin destroyed Biden’s agenda, but saved many in the end

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  • Joe Manchin is one of the Democrats most responsible for stalling much of Biden’s economic agenda.
  • But he saved a lot of it in the end, helping push through a huge climate bill that’s headed for Biden’s desk.
  • “Once in a while, Joe Manchin reminds us that he’s a Democrat,” GOP Sen. Kevin Cramer said.

“Another week, another Manchin.”

This quip from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez of New York in early March summed up the depth of Democratic frustration with perhaps its most stubborn member: Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. As winter turned to spring, Democrats were rudderless. Their economic program was shattered and they hadn’t really started sorting through the debris of their Build Back Better plan. Russian troops pour into Ukraine drives up gas pricescompounding their political problems.

It was a time when snatching victory from the jaws of defeat seemed unlikely for Democrats and President Joe Biden. Manchin often doused even a leaner version of their ambitions with cold water. Few trusted him to make a deal.

Although this time Manchin didn’t pull the football off at the last minute. He became a red-state Democrat who signed the biggest climate bill ever assembled in Congress — and helped get it across the finish line with just three months to go until the midterms.

“Once in a while Joe Manchin reminds us that he’s a Democrat,” Republican Senator Kevin Cramer of North Dakota said at the US Capitol last week. “For Joe, being a Democrat is as natural as being Italian.”

Manchin drafted the package with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer behind closed doors, avoiding the public back-and-forth that characterized last fall’s turbulent talks. The Democratic conclave even kicked out Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, another crucial vote. But it ultimately resulted in a breakthrough that surprised Congress the most, especially when it came to the deal’s scale of climate spending.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, director of the climate and energy program at the center-left Third Way think tank, said the bill was “the most impactful action the United States has taken on climate change.”

“It really provides the assistance in the form of grants, loans and tax credits to incentivize the private sector to accomplish what we need to accomplish,” he told Insider. The bill allocates $370 billion in clean energy tax credits intended to reduce the cost of purchasing electric vehicles and provides funding for the installation of solar panels and heat pumps.

“There were certain parameters on how he wanted to do it,” Jason Grumet, president of the Bipartisan Policy Center, a think tank that worked with Manchin, told Insider. “But he’s as committed to federal investment in the clean energy transition as Schumer or [Sen. Brian] Schatz.”

“As the package evolved from a social spending program laden with lots of tax gimmicks to a clean energy infrastructure package, Senator Manchin became more supportive because the package reflected his priorities,” Grumet said.

Only time will tell if Democrats reap political benefits

Bernie Sanders Joe Manchin

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (L) walks past Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee markup, on Capitol Hill on May 03, 2022 in Washington, DC.

Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images


Manchin has always made it clear that he is a Democrat cut from a different cloth. He is from a state that Trump won in the 2020 election by nearly 40 percentage points, the former president second largest margin of victory in the USA.

He was a saver instead of a big spender, sounding the inflation alarm long before the Democrats. The fiscally austere moderate has halted his party’s efforts to expand the safety net for families, balking at the idea of ​​a “rights-based society” taking hold. Plans to restore Biden’s monthly child tax credit, establish universal, affordable pre-K child care have all been scrapped to accommodate the thin limits of his vote.

“Our party has spent the last year asking those moderate Democrats who never made those big, bold promises of progressive change and never campaigned on Build Back Better to vote for those policies,” John said recently. LaBombard, a former Sinema collaborator. says Insider.

By late spring, Democrats had abandoned their quest for social spending at a level similar to the New Deal or the Great Society. But that didn’t stop them from claiming a major victory over the more modest legislation anyway.

Progressives think they’ve won big, holding the line on Biden’s agenda against moderates determined to cut it. They insist they will return for the rest if the Democrats manage to keep control of Congress.

“From the beginning, progressives have fought tooth and nail to advance the president’s entire economic agenda,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington said at a press conference Friday. “Now we just need a few more Democratic senators to make the rest of this program a reality.”

It’s long. Biden’s approval ratings are plummeting and voters are ranking inflation at the top of their medium-term concerns. Democrats are expected to lose the House, but they can still cling to the senate.

Only time will tell if Democrats will reap the political benefits of the Cut Inflation Act, which has drawn no GOP support. Some of the most popular initiatives — such as a $2,000 ceiling on out-of-pocket drug expenditures for seniors — kick in several years after midterms. Additionally, automakers are warning that few, if any, electric vehicles will be eligible for consumer tax credits once strict sourcing requirements come into effect from next year.

Democrats suffered more than a year of hand-twisting because of Manchin. But without him in a divided Senate, their economic agenda stood no chance. “The only reason there’s anyone named Majority Leader Schumer is because Senator Manchin got elected in West Virginia,” Grumet said.