Politico: Dems' "despair mounts" over inability to move Biden agenda

Politico: Dems' "despair mounts" over inability to move Biden agenda
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

I guess Democrats finally learned to do math. They spent the last fifteen months pretending that they could govern from the far Left and steamroll Republicans and moderates in their own caucuses. Now they can’t even get Joe Manchin to pick up the phone.


Politico reports on Democrats’ “mounting despair” over Joe Biden’s failing agenda, stemming from a dawning realization about having only 50 votes in the Senate:

With the clock ticking on their hopes of clinching a major climate and deficit reduction deal before Memorial Day, Democratic leaders are again struggling to make progress — stymied by a lack of clear direction or an understanding of what both Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), their two biggest obstacles, are prepared to support.

“The White House is hamstrung by the Venn diagram of Manchin and Sinema asks,” said a person familiar with Manchin and White House dynamics.

Currently, informal reconciliation talks center on three major areas: climate change, prescription drug reform and deficit reduction. While the White House has yet to acknowledge other social spending elements have been moved off the table, multiple people familiar with the talks said President Joe Biden’s ambitions on child and elder care are all but dead.

But even getting a slimmed-down reconciliation package through the evenly divided Senate will depend solely on Biden’s ability to get Manchin and Sinema to yes. And seven months after the White House first tried to crack the Manchinema puzzle last September, it’s clear little has changed.

That’s not entirely true. Something very significant has changed — the economy. When inflation began sharply rising a year ago, Manchin made it clear that he wanted Biden and his party to reset its focus on that problem rather than “climate change” and other progressive hobby horses that populated the Build Back Better bill. When inflation really began racing upward in the late summer and early fall, Manchin made it clear that he wouldn’t spend that kind of money.


In fact, Politico’s mention of “deficit reduction” here is a kind of joke. The BBB originally would have cost $5 trillion on top of the $2 trillion in the American Rescue Plan (the third tranche of COVID-19 stimulus that catalyzed inflation) and the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill. When Manchin refused to agree to that kind of spending again and demanded deficit reduction instead, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer instead inserted a bunch of threadbare sunset provisions to mask about two-thirds of the bill’s true cost. When Manchin wouldn’t play along with that, progressives began calling him and Sinema racists, a charge they would amplify when both Senate Democrats refused to go along on eliminating the legislative filibuster later.

This part is also a joke, right?

White House officials have yet to decipher Manchin’s demands. Some staff believe that he will never get to yes. Others confess to being out of ideas, even asking policy activists outside the White House for help in getting the West Virginia Democrat on board.

Nonsense. Manchin’s been clear about what he will support — some limited spending on climate-change issues, but only married with restored production of American energy, tax restructuring, and solid deficit reduction. There’s nothing to decode; Biden and his team simply don’t want to listen. In fact, they don’t want to listen so much that they never did the basic groundwork in the first place of bothering to ask Manchin first what he’d support. They made the same mistake with Sinema.


This is how clueless the White House and Democratic Party leadership has become:

On Tuesday, Manchin said he’s still open to a party-line bill aimed at tamping down inflation and reducing the deficit, though he refused to set any timeline for the talks.

Yet privately, top Democrats view the next several days as critical to determining whether there’s any chance of passing the kind of centerpiece legislation capable of giving a jolt to the party’s midterm prospects. There is growing paranoia that Manchin, in recently engaging in bipartisan talks, is either willfully or unknowingly allowing Republicans to run out the clock on any reconciliation package that Democrats could agree to among themselves.

In other words, “top Democrats” are refusing to listen even after several months of Manchin saying exactly the same thing. And rather than admit that they’re refusing to listen and that they blew it, “top Democrats” would rather entertain the conspiracy theory that it’s Manchin stretching out this massive faceplant as a secret crypto-Republican plot rather than just admit they’re idiots.

Hanlon’s Razor would be useful here. To the cognitively non-impaired, that is.

We’ll talk about this today, I’m sure, when I co-host with our pal Hugh Hewitt on his syndicated radio show, airing from 6-9 am ET, live from the home studio deep in the heart of Texas! We will have a great lineup of guests and regular contributors:

  • Bret Baier
  • Jim Talent
  • Jeff Bartos
  • Dr. Michael Oren
  • Matt Dolan
  • Shannon Royce

We’ll also take your calls to the show at 800-520-1234, and you can watch the show live at The Hughniverse. There’s a great chat room that goes with it, and lots of original content in the troll-free websurfing experience for subscribers. The audio also streams at HughHewitt.com.

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