Aha. So this is why some progressives like Ro Khanna have been notably softer on him than on Sinema over the last few days. It’s not just the fact that she represents a state Biden won while he represents a state Trump won by 39 points.
It’s the fact that, contrary to what some lefties would have us believe, Manchin did show his cards on reconciliation. As far back as July 28.
Reportedly Manchin has been showing this document off to progressives over the past week as proof that he’s never been coy about what he wants from the reconciliation mega-bill:
A senate aide confirms authenticity of this document from July, reported by Politico – that Manchin proposed to Schumer a topline $1.5T reconciliation bill, with debate to begin no later than 10/1/2021. Says Manchin does not guarantee vote for reconciliation if it exceeds $1.5T pic.twitter.com/JMX7SXxXyS
— Jacqui Heinrich (@JacquiHeinrich) September 30, 2021
He went so far as to put it in writing and to get Schumer’s signature as acknowledgment of receipt. (NBC claims the words written beneath Schumer’s signature are “I will try to dissuade Joe on many of these.”) Which means we have a new mystery.
If progressives — or at least Chuck Schumer — have known for two months that Manchin is unlikely to accept a topline of more than $1.5 trillion, why are they still pushing $3.5 trillion in late September? (And why would Schumer have agreed to sign Manchin’s offer sheet, knowing that it would prove he’s been aware of Manchin’s red line all along?)
Is it really the case that Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are trying to tank reconciliation, as lefties have self-servingly claimed? Or was that a fiction concocted and propagated by progressives to pressure Manchin to come up from his $1.5 trillion limit? Manchin is willing to pass a bill, it turns out. Just not the bill they want.
So, it seems, they set about smearing him by claiming that he might walk away from reconciliation entirely if they passed the bipartisan infrastructure bill in the House first. It now looks as though that was never true.
How many House progs knew of Manchin’s offer to Schumer and pretended they didn’t because they didn’t like his number? And how many are just finding out about his offer today?
It’s a well-timed leak inasmuch as it might conceivably shake loose a few extra lefty votes for the bipartisan bill this afternoon. Some have said that they’d be willing to pass the bipartisan bill if the two wings of the caucus can at least agree on a “framework” for reconciliation. That’s not what Manchin’s July 28 offer sheet is — there’s no agreement, not even with Schumer at the time — but this might give some wavering progressives enough confidence that Manchin is willing to pass something on reconciliation that they’ll vote yes on the House bill. Sinema remains a question mark, of course, but if Manchin is willing to do something on reconciliation, a senator like her from a much bluer state will feel obliged to come along.
In other words, Manchin’s offer sheet is basically written proof that he doesn’t intend, and never has intended, to tank the reconciliation process. He just doesn’t want to go big. And if that’s not good enough for lefties and they decide to tank the bipartisan bill this afternoon anyway, that’s fine with Manchin. The offer sheet proves that this is now a dispute about numbers, not his and the centrists’ alleged stubborn refusal to make any sort of deal with the left.
Having now been vindicated in his claims that he’s been dealing in good faith, Manchin told reporters today that his offer sheet should come as no surprise. I’m not a liberal and never have been, he said. And I’m not prepared to support a mega-bill that would create a permanent “entitlement mentality” in this country.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV): "I've never been a liberal in any way, shape, or form," so if progressives want a bigger reconciliation bill, "elect more liberals." pic.twitter.com/Xkf7NLRMtp
— The Recount (@therecount) September 30, 2021
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) says his maximum number for reconciliation is $1.5 trillion because he wants to avoid “changing our whole society to an entitlement mentality.” pic.twitter.com/ylwVUrCf7H
— The Recount (@therecount) September 30, 2021
He’s reeeeally twisting the knife on lefties there. Although we’re left to wonder: How badly off is America as a country if a guy who’s “not a liberal” is willing to support another $1.5 trillion in spending on top of the $1.2 trillion on infrastructure that might pass the House today on top of the $1.9 trillion in COVID relief that passed a few months ago on top of the several trillion appropriated by Congress for COVID relief last year?
Pelosi, by the way, is still putting on a brave face about getting infrastructure passed this afternoon…
.@SpeakerPelosi to @LisaDNews on infrastructure: "We're on a path to win the vote. I don't want to even consider any options other than that. That's just the way it is. That's our culture…We go in it to win it."
— CSPAN (@cspan) September 30, 2021
…but her number two is far less sanguine:
Q: "If the [infrastructure] vote does happen today, are you confident that it'll pass."
Q: "Has there been any talk about bringing a bill to the floor that could fail?"
Hoyer: "Sure, there's lots of talk about that, by everybody."
— Andrew Solender (@AndrewSolender) September 30, 2021
Will the publication of Manchin’s offer sheet be enough to tip House lefties towards passing the bipartisan bill? I’m thinking … no, almost certainly not. But stay tuned.
Update: Has Sinema also showed her cards, contrary to weeks’ worth of progressive talking points?
Statement on Budget Reconciliation Negotiations pic.twitter.com/QZpaMXxm7q
— Kyrsten Sinema (@SenatorSinema) September 30, 2021
It’s becoming clearer that lefties have been demagoging them not because they refuse to deal on reconciliation but because the left doesn’t like the terms of the deal they’ve been offered.