When President Joe Biden began his presidency, he knew that there was a long list of campaign promises he had to deliver on. Yet he would have to balance the practical with the bold. Although Democrats were in control of both chambers, Biden was handed a 50/50 Senate and a slim majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. That left little room for error for the left’s radical plans in the White House’s $3.5 trillion “Build Back Better” (BBB) plan which was a massive climate, energy, tax and spending bill that was guided by the Senate’s budget reconciliation process.
Enter the Senate’s number one boogeyman, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who said late last year, “My Democratic colleagues in Washington are determined to dramatically reshape our society in a way that leaves our country even more vulnerable to the threats we face. I cannot take that risk with a staggering debt of more than $29 trillion and inflation taxes that are real and harmful to every hard-working American at the gasoline pumps, grocery stores and utility bills with no end in sight.”
When Democrats brought the price tag down to $2 trillion after months of negotiations, Manchin stuck to his principles and continued to sing the same tune that he had been singing for months, that the BBB is, in his view, “dead.”
Since then, Manchin has been berated by the left. The emotions finally went public this summer when Senate Democrats spoke out. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the Democrats’ chief negotiator who liked to invite Manchin over for Italian food when negotiating, blamed him for “walking away” from talks. “He has sabotaged the president’s agenda,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said on ABC’s “This Week.” Finally, President Biden threatened executive action if a deal wasn’t struck. The coordinated attack of Manchin was on.
Manchin spoke about the barrage of threats he faced recently on his favorite West Virginia radio show “Talkline with Hoppy Kercheval,” where he maintained that he still wasn’t backing any version of Build Back Better. ‘I’d been ostracized and victimized, if you will, because I killed the BBB,” Manchin said. “Because the BBB, I think, was just a bad deal for our economy. It’s a bad deal for our country and changes the trajectory of who we are as a people. So I was totally opposed to that.”
Clearly the internal pressure campaign from the White House and Manchin’s colleagues wore him down. As did their promises for West Virginia and catering to his public concerns — even naming the final bill the “Inflation Reduction Act.” Only in Washington could a bill that spends $600 billion be sold as actually reducing inflation.
What Manchin did partially accomplish was slowing down and hollowing out much of Biden’s tax and spend agenda. Biden and Democrats had proposed nearly 30 different tax hikes totaling over $3 trillion that would have fallen on small businesses and individuals alike. Only two made it through in the final bill – one focused on large corporations and once focused on hedge funds. Even still, neither are good for the economy, especially during a time when many businesses are still struggling. In addition, the “Inflation Reduction Act” is full of waste and special interest loopholes not to mention funding dedicated to increasing tax audits on small businesses.
Another multi-billion dollar bill that hands out free cash to so-called green companies on borrowed money will add to the U.S. national debt and fuel inflation which is already at record highs. And while the bill that ended up passing after a high pressure campaign against the Senator was bad enough, it is scary to think that Democrats originals plans were multiple times worse.
Bob Carlstrom is President of AMAC Action