More Manchin: I never signed off on Biden's framework -- and won't back Medicare expansion

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File

Is this “more Manchin,” or “the same Manchin all along”? As much as the components and alliances keep shifting around on the massive social-engineering package Democrats want to pass through reconciliation, Joe Manchin hasn’t moved much, if at all. And he wants everyone to know that he didn’t sign off on Biden’s “framework,” too:


Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said he didn’t sign off on a framework for a $1.75 trillion social spending bill before it was released from the White House and that he didn’t think there was a “rush” to get a deal.

“No,” Manchin said, asked if he had signed off on the framework, adding that if he had, his current pushback wouldn’t be “genuine.”

“The White House knew exactly where I stood. There was a couple of concerns that we had that we needed to work through,” Manchin said.

“I’ve been here long enough to know that when you say you signed off on things, you got to keep your word and I’m not going to be a liar or make anyone else a liar, so that’s why I hadn’t,” he added.

Despite all of the personal attacks and pleading, Manchin also announced today that he will remain adamantly opposed to expanding Medicare as long as its trust fund remains “insolvent.” Which is to say, in perpetuity:

So much for the negotiations with Bernie Sanders, eh? That appears out the window, as do any plans to move this package soon. Manchin told Raju that the complexities in the tax proposals alone need lots of time to comprehend. That’s more important than Biden getting a “rush” optics win:


Put aside all of the pluses and minuses of this stand. What matters is that Manchin has been firm all along on this issue. He does not want new expansion of Medicare until Congress acts to properly support its already-extant commitments. The problem for Democrats is that runs into the tens of trillions of dollars all by itself, and perhaps into the hundreds of trillions of dollars, depending on which method one uses to calculate unfunded liabilities in Medicare.

Whether or not Manchin is correct — he is — isn’t even the point now. It’s whether anyone bothered to check with him before floating a massive expansion that would make those problems exponentially worse. Apparently the White House and the Bernie Sanders faction in Congress just assumed they could either buffalo Manchin or buy him off. Wouldn’t Democrats have been better off negotiating with Manchin up front and developing a plan he could support as a first ask?


That also applies to Joe Biden’s stunt last week. Biden’s strategy in publicly announcing the Build Back Better “framework” on Thursday was clearly meant to push Manchin into a corner. Biden and the White House figured that progressives would quickly endorse it as an “agreement” and that Manchin would fold under the pressure to get his infrastructure deal passed.

Not only did that not work, it backfired spectacularly on Biden. Progressives accused Manchin of reneging, which is why he’s insisting that no one bothered to check with him in the first place.

That left progressives with no other attack line than this …

Good luck with that strategy, too. That isn’t “fire,” with all due respect to Manu Raju — it’s backfire.

Pelosi now insists that a vote’s coming on Biden’s BBB reconciliation framework. She doesn’t know when, but it’s coming:


We’ve been hearing about votes from Pelosi on reconciliation and infrastructure for three months now. She has yet to deliver on any of those pledges thus far, and as I wrote this morning, it’s not looking promising at the moment either, especially if progressives insist on keeping immigration in the BBB.

Politico’s Playbook is skeptical about any votes this week or in the near future:

Don’t expect a vote on the social spending package today — and maybe not this week. While that goal was always aspirational for the Democratic leaders who worked to finalize details through the weekend, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) on Monday all but assured it’s out the window.

The moderate senator, who has become a linchpin in congressional efforts to lock down both the social spending and the infrastructure packages, in a Monday news conference refused to endorse the White House-blessed $1.75 trillion social spending bill, Burgess Everett and Sarah Ferris report.

Manchin told reporters that he would not be pressured into supporting his party’s more progressive social spending package and decried the “shell games, budget gimmicks” used in writing it.

Basically, he wants the House to immediately pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill. And his move could embolden other moderate Democrats who are increasingly frustrated that the measure keeps stalling before House votes, Burgess and Sarah write.


Someone has to capitulate for this bill to move. Maybe it will be Manchin, but at least up to this point he’s remained remarkably consistent. After today’s election in Virginia, we’ll see whether he’s vindicated.

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David Strom 8:16 PM | July 17, 2024