"We're all going to die": Dems irate at Manchin for tanking climate change part of new BBB bill

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

I think today’s the day the left finally decided, “You know what? West Virginia’s better off with two Republican senators after all. Less aggravation for us in the long run.”

How often do you have senators calling for a colleague from their own party to have his committee gavel taken from him?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of Manchin’s most prominent left-wing critics in the party, was pleased to see Heinrich turn on him. But Heinrich is the tip of the iceberg, per NBC:

“We’re all going to die,” House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., told reporters when asked about the consequences of Congress failing to act…

“Unfortunately, we have one Democrat who thinks he knows better than every other Democrat,” he said…

Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., dubbed Manchin “Mr. Fossil Fuel Industry.”…

“It has already hurt Democrats,” Jayapal said. “The single biggest thing that has hurt our chances for the midterm — and I still believe we can win, I want to make that clear — but the number one thing is the failure of Senator Manchin and the Senate to act on passing some version of Build Back Better.”…

“He has shown that he doesn’t know how to close a deal, or he doesn’t want to close a deal, and that you can’t trust him,” Jayapal said, of Manchin. “You can’t negotiate with someone like that.”

Ed Markey sounded like he was having a nervous breakdown last night when he got the news that Manchin was ditching BBB:

Debbie Stabenow is furious as well:

“It’s infuriating, and nothing short of tragic, that he appears to be walking away again from taking action on climate and energy,” said Tina Smith of Minnesota to WaPo after Manchin abandoned ship at the last moment. As for Biden’s team, they were shocked but not surprised. “This is how the White House has always feared this would end,” one told the Post. “It really is a stunning turnaround from the dreams of a Green New Deal to this.”

That explains why Biden announced this afternoon that he’s done waiting for Manchin to make up his mind on climate change. Pass whatever you’re able to pass right now (i.e. reducing prescription drug costs and extending ObamaCare subsidies), the president advised Senate Dems, and I’ll do what I can with executive action to address climate change.

Remember that Manchin said this morning that he hasn’t entirely ruled out adding climate change provisions to the BBB bill. What he told Schumer last night was that he doesn’t want to do it immediately, before he’s seen what the July inflation numbers look like. If inflation slows this month, there’s a chance that he’ll agree to reinsert some green policies back into the reconciliation process.

The fact that Biden doesn’t want to take him up on that offer and wait until August means either Biden’s not confident that we’ll see progress on inflation this month or he’s so exasperated with Manchin that he’d rather bank whatever he can bank legislatively right now, even if that means a smaller bill. After all, even if inflation drops in July, Manchin might turn around in August and decide that he doesn’t want pass anything on climate change anyway. And Dems don’t have all the time in the world here: As Ed noted this morning, they have a crowded legislative calendar, a long recess in August, and a deadline of September 30 to get reconciliation done. If they wait on Manchin to change his mind, they may well end up getting nothing.

So they’re taking the half a loaf (quarter of a loaf?) he’s offering them and hoping he doesn’t yank that away too before the new stripped-down BBB passes.

What has Democrats especially angry is that Schumer tried to accommodate Manchin by rewriting the bill to address some of his inflation concerns. “In recent days, Schumer had offered Manchin a proposal to approve the climate provisions Manchin backed without the taxes that he was ‘recently skittish’ about, like a corporate minimum tax,” NBC reports, but Manchin ultimately said no. “Once Again, Manchin Gets The Legislative Deal He Wants And Promptly Blows It Up,” reads the headline at TPM, citing the fact that the bill he and Schumer were negotiating would have had only modest green reforms like penalizing methane emissions and creating tax credits for clean energy rather than hardcore progressive “Green New Deal” measures. Manchin still said no.

This morning Jonathan Chait channeled Democrats’ frustration into an epitaph for the Biden agenda. The party’s failure is now complete, he alleged — and it’s not all Joe Manchin’s fault.

The administration’s broad strategy was to use its first major piece of legislation, enacted at the crest of Biden’s political capital shortly after he took office, to stimulate the economy as it recovered from the COVID recession. Only after that would they craft enduring social reforms. The theory, which seemed logical to many of us at the time, was to first ensure a prosperous economy and then leverage the political benefit of that prosperity to pass permanent social-welfare measures. Instead, the American Jobs Plan overshot, injecting more demand into an already heating economy. It did not cause high inflation, but it exacerbated it. And thus, rather than producing a prosperous economy that gave Democrats more confidence to pass Biden’s domestic agenda, it led to a sour inflationary economy that had them running for cover.

Faced with that sour economy, says Chait, some Dems like Kyrsten Sinema opposed tax hikes for even the richest taxpayers, forfeiting the party’s strongest populist pitch to working-class voters. Those voters are now headed rightward towards a party that supports *cutting* taxes on the rich but which at least is in sync with the working class on cultural matters.

Dems should take a lesson from the GOP from all this: If you don’t have much of a policy agenda in the first place, it’s impossible to disappoint your base by not enacting it.

Exit question: Will Joe Manchin still be in the Senate as a Democrat in 2025? I don’t think his party wants him anymore.