Thursday, May 19

Manchin’s betrayal puts Joe Biden in check


  • Fire friend Joe Biden’s economic plan sinks in the US Senate
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25% of West Virginia people over 65 need false teeth. But Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, who represents that state in Washington, opposes the public-private health system Medicare including dental care among its benefits.

First, Manchin demanded that this measure be withdrawn from the plan Build Back Better (BBB or, in Spanish, Back to Building Better), the health care, social services, and anti-climate change bill that Joe Biden wanted to be his political legacy. And, on Sunday, Manchin announced that it doesn’t matter what the White House removes or puts on the BBB. “I can’t support it,” Manchin said. to the pro-Trump television network Fox News. The Democratic majority in the Senate is so tight that it was enough for a single Senator from that party to refuse to endorse the BBB for it to no longer have a chance of surviving a vote.

For eleven months, Biden had bypassed that minimum majority to launch his stimulus plan against Covid-19, obtain the approval of his gigantic infrastructure plan, and obtain the ratification of dozens of left-wing judges, thus compensating for Trump’s policy in his four years by placing right-wing judges (in the United States, the separation of powers makes sense very Sui generis).

The Democrats were getting it all. Up to now. His worst enemy has not been a Republican, but one of his own: Joe Manchin. And Manchin’s “accomplice” is also a Democrat: Senator Kyrsten Sinema, from Arizona, who once flagged his progressivism and his sexual freedom – he is bisexual – but that, since he is in the Senate, has not stopped moving to the right.

In the end, no one knows the reason for Manchin’s “no”. Even those close to the senator acknowledge that it is a matter of ego. Of Manchin feeling that the White House did not respect him enough. Perhaps the foci of being the center of power in Washington cause some temporary blindness when representing West Virginia, a state that is the source of cruel jokes throughout the United States due to the poverty and low education of its inhabitants, and that he has never been able to exercise any power in the country’s capital.

So Manchin’s “no” may be “yes” tomorrow. In the event that the party leaders tighten the screws and threaten to render you irrelevant, you could back down. It is a political ballet that, more than ideology, is danced to a music of power for power. Yesterday, in fact, the senator himself began to back down, albeit timidly, and to suggest that perhaps he could endorse the BBB, provided that it once again took into account his demands,

Than Manchin, representing the second poorest state in the United States, can torpedo without any problem among his voters a proposal from his own party aimed at helping, precisely, the population with the lowest incomes reveals that the paths of power are inscrutable. People vote for identity issues. Race, sexual orientation, gender, and even accent – working class, South, West, Appalachian, college, Northeast – it is what decides the voter’s preference. West Virginia is poor, mining. So Manchin voters oppose the Welfare State that most of them live on.

It can be argued that there were more practical reasons in opposing the senator, because West Virginia lives off coal, and part of the BBB was going into energy transition. But that idea has as a counterweight that the senator himself had already been in charge of liquidating the provisions of the bill that would affect that mining company in his state. In any case, coal in the United States is disappearing, but not because of “econazis”, as the critics call ecologists, but because natural gas is cheaper. With coal, Manchin could also have a conflict of interest, since both he and his family are millionaires thanks to their investments in that sector.

Manchin’s decision to break the deck, after six months of direct negotiations with Joe Biden himself, who had even invited him to his home in Delaware in October, has made a brutal rift in the Democratic Party. Biden, who has tried his best to keep that formation together, tried to convince the senator not to give the plan the coup de grace on Sunday. Manchin refused to come to the phone. The White House has reacted with fury, accusing the senator of “breaking his commitments”. The Democratic leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, who has seen his authority receive a perhaps irrevocable blow by the insurrection of the West Virginia senator, has decided that the BBB will vote, also, in January. If your idea is to publicly embarrass Manchin, it doesn’t seem like he cares much about it..

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