Monday, December 20, 2021

50 To 2

On Sunday, West Virginia's Democratic senator, Joe Manchin.came out against Build Back Better, stating in part "This is a 'no' on this piece of legislation. I have tried everything I know to do." Manchin's definitive stance begged for a rebuttal from the White House and it was delivered, eloquently and emphatically, by Press Secretary Jen Psaki. 

As President Biden was about to sign into law the Infrastructure and Investment Act in November, Democratic Representative Abigail Spanberger lauded the legislation as "the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (which) will pave the way for real improvements to Virginia's physical infrastructure." Similarly, Spanberger responded to Manchin's remarks about the social infrastructure bill by asserting

During this process, we should not ignore that Members of the Republican Party have wholly refused to work with Democrats on these priorities. But after months of negotiations, one Democratic U.S. Senator has now summarily walked away from productive negotiations.

The congresswoman neglected to mention that it is not "members" of the GOP who are blocking Democrats on Build Back Better, but all members of the Senate GOP caucus. Hailing from a swing district whose House seat was held by a Republican from 1971 until she was elected in 2018, she refers to the approved legislation as "bipartisan" and emphasizes Democrat Joe Manchin as the roadblock to Build Back Better.

This is apiece with a passage from Sunday's Politico article written by an MSNBC show host in which Jonathan Lemire wrote

The stunning decision by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Sunday to announce his opposition to Biden’s Build Back Better legislation handed the president a stinging defeat. And unless the White House can turn the senator around, the result will not just be a profound failure to combat climate change and expand the social safety net, but also undermining the president’s central premise of competence and the vow that he could forge consensus in times of partisanship and tribalism.

And  unless the White House can turn the senator around, the result will be a profound failure....

Joe Manchin is only one Democratic senator, though at 6'3", a rather large one. There are 50 Republican senators. None has spoken in favor of Build Back Better and every one will vote against it.  There are at least 48 Democratic senators, or 96% of the caucus, who will be voting for the proposal. Forty-eight beats zero by a factor of- well, infinity.

Senator Manchin is working against the interests of his state and of the country. However, he can at least claim- perhaps disingenuously- that he "has tried everything I can do" and has "tried everything humanely possible. I can't get there." Negotiations, however fruitless, have taken place, which explains why his claim of victimhood (below) is bogus.

There are 50 Republican senators who will not admit even to have seriously considered the legislation and Senate Minority Leader has not proposed discussions with Majority Leader Schumer. There is no chance they will "get there" because their strategy is "just say no." They were always assumed to be opposed to this Democratic president's initiative, and that has been treated as expected, even normal.

Lemire argues the President must "turn the Senator around" so Biden can uphold his "vow that he could forge consensus in times of partisanship and tribalism." The impediment to achieving bipartisan peace and love thus becomes the Democratic Party, with its two holdouts (Manchin and Senator Krysten Sinema), and not the Stepford Republicans.

Representative Spanberger and other Democrats must not continue to assist the media in framing failure of this initiative. Voters are hearing about Joe Manchin and, to a lesser extent, Krysten Sinema, and the inability of Democratic leadership to knock sense into them.  Hearing far less about Republicans, they are prone to believe it is Democrats who are the stumbling block to the valuable benefits in the bill. Worse, if the bill goes down, they will conclude the Democratic Party is responsible for nothing being accomplished in Washington.

Ironically, as- and because-  the GOP is steadfastly negative and partisan, it is the Democratic Party which is fingered as being the primary agents of partisanship and failure. The media shouldn't aid them, and neither should Democrats.

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