Report: It wasn't just Joe Manchin who killed the billionaire's tax

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

It’s not just Elon Musk and Joe Manchin who have a problem with the progressive wealth tax proposal called the “Billionaire’s Tax.” According to Greg Sargent at the Washington Post, Speaker Pelosi is the person whose fingerprints are on the knife that killed this.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sharply faulted the proposal at a caucus meeting earlier this week, according to a Democratic aide who overheard the remarks. This aide told me Pelosi pronounced it a PR stunt that wouldn’t accomplish anything.

“Pelosi absolutely destroyed it,” the aide said.

Another aide said her opposition was based on the fact that there was no text for this proposal which meant it couldn’t be scored. Whatever the case, Sargent sees reason to believe there were other Democrats in both the House and Senate who were opposed but didn’t want to be seen defending Jeff Bezos.

Now the proposal is struggling to survive. But Manchin isn’t the only one to blame. Rep. Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.), chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, has questioned whether it will hold up in court. That would dovetail with Pelosi’s private opposition, and both of them working together suggest there may be plenty of other House Democrats privately opposed.

And other Senate Democrats appear to oppose the proposal but don’t want to say so openly. After all, it’s not easy to come down on the side of protecting the wealth of billionaires.

That last link goes to this tweet. Wyden is vowing to fight on for the “Billionaire’s tax” but Jake Sherman says “plenty of dem senators” are opposed.

All of this goes back to something I wrote about in June. It’s true that Joe Manchin gets all the headlines for opposing this stuff but that’s largely because he a) likes the attention and b) pays no price for it. But if Manchin weren’t doing it, there are other moderate Democrats in the Senate who would be forced to step up. Here’s how Glenn Greenwald put it at the time.

So the collapse of the “Billionaire’s Tax” will be blamed on Manchin, just like everything else Democrats wanted but didn’t get, but the truth is he’s not alone. As I said at the time, “Progressives want to act as if they can run the country alone but they just don’t have the numbers. If you strike Manchin down two more moderates will take his place.” Nancy Pelosi is at least smart enough to realize when progressives are daydreaming about a fight they can’t possibly win. She’s also smart enough to let Manchin take the heat even if she knows as well as he does this is a non-starter.