One of the remaining stumbling blocks left in the path of Joe Biden’s massive “reconciliation” spending spree may be lifting after a private brunch meeting at the President’s home in Delaware on Sunday. The AP is reporting that Joe Manchin sat down for a meal with Biden and Chuck Schumer, coming away from the talks with a more positive attitude toward a possible “wealth tax” to help pay for the huge bill. A corporate tax hike would be included as well. This would be a complete reversal for Manchin, who has repeatedly said that he was opposed to new taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals to cover the costs. Of course, these reports are coming from anonymous sources and it’s unclear whether they were actually at the meeting or hearing about this second-hand. But even if Manchin flips and decides to allow new taxes, that doesn’t mean that we’re actually any closer to a done deal yet.
Pivotal Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin appears to be on board with White House proposals for new taxes on billionaires and certain corporations to help pay for President Joe Biden’s scaled-back social services and climate change package.
Biden huddled with the conservative West Virginia Democrat and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer at the president’s Delaware home Sunday as they work on resolving the disputes between centrists and progressives that have stalled the Democrats’ wide-ranging bill. A person who requested anonymity to discuss Manchin’s position told The Associated Press the senator is agreeable to the White House’s new approach on the tax proposals.
What had been a sweeping $3.5 trillion plan is now being eyed as $1.75 trillion package. That’s within a range that could still climb considerably higher, according to a second person who requested anonymity to discuss the private talks.
Getting both the President and Chuck Schumer to invite Manchin to Delaware for brunch seems like the clearest signal yet that the party is ready to simply fold to Manchin and give him nearly anything he wants. That’s because the pages on the 2021 calendar are growing thin and there is a sense of desperation coming from the Democratic leadership. At this point, they just want to pass something… anything, really, to show that they didn’t completely collapse and come out of Biden’s first year with zero to show for all of their time spent haggling with each other.
With the price tag cut down to $1.75 trillion they are now in Manchin’s original range and any talk of Pramila Jayapal and the Progressive Caucus going to the mat for the whole $3.5 trillion is out the window. Assuming this report is accurate, Manchin must have gotten something else from his list of demands in exchange for agreeing to the wealth tax. It’s certainly possible that bringing the bill down below two trillion was what did it.
The unanswered question is what’s going to become of Kyrsten Sinema. Unless she was hiding in the pantry, it sounds as if she wasn’t invited to this very special brunch. But without her, the bill still isn’t going anywhere. And as recently as yesterday, Sinema was saying that she’s still a “no” vote if there is a corporate tax increase involved. The tax plan allegedly discussed at yesterday’s brunch wouldn’t be nearly as much of a jump as the Democrats initially wanted, but it would include both a corporate tax hike and a tax on billionaires. (I somehow doubt they will try to make it an actual “wealth tax” as was envisioned by Elizabeth Warren because that would be tied up in the courts for years.)
Keep your ears open for a press release or social media post from Sinema this morning. If they’ve found some sort of gift for her that will win over her heart, she’ll probably find some way to offer tentative support for whatever Biden, Schumer, and Manchin cooked up yesterday without admitting that she caved. But if not and she’s sticking to her hard-line, all of the crow that Biden and Schumer had to eat at brunch yesterday will have been for nothing.