Manchin and Sinema should kill Biden’s spending blowout — and maybe switch parties
Manchin and Sinema should kill Biden’s spending blowout — and maybe switch parties

By Quin Hillyer, Commentary Writer

Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona should call the bluff of the hard left-wingers in their party. They should say they won’t vote for any version of President Joe Biden’s monstrous social spending plan.

Both centrist senators strongly support the separate $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that the Left is holding hostage for its $3.5 trillion social spending blowout, but the two have balked at the size and specifics of Biden’s bill.

They should just dare the leftists to enter the 2022 elections without achieving even the infrastructure plan — a failure that would surely cost Democrats both chambers of Congress and kill all their (mislabeled) “progressive” dreams without affecting Sinema or Manchin at all (both are up for reelection in 2024).

Manchin has said he believes the blowout is far too expensive, that it should not contain taxpayer funding for abortion, that it should not make war on fossil fuels, and that it should not further expand an “entitlement society .” Sinema doesn’t like the size of the bill and hates many of its tax hikes. Both know that there’s no reason they can’t come back later to try passing any of the few parts of the blowout they actually do support.

Both also know that even before the pandemic hit, federal spending was at its highest level in history and Congress and two presidents had spent an astonishing $5.7 trillion in 14 months on top of that for things labeled “COVID relief.” They know the federal debt’s ratio to the overall economy is the highest it has been in U.S. history, and they know that this massive spending is causing inflation that eats away at the paychecks of their lower-income constituents.

Considering all this, voters in neither of their right-leaning states will punish them for refusing to spend even more while risking even higher inflation. And, election considerations aside, the two senators know the inflation is materially bad for their constituents.

As it is, the $1.2 trillion “infrastructure” bill that both senators helped craft is itself somewhat bloated, but it enjoys enough Republican support to give it a bipartisan patina. Eventually, a broad coalition, including all but the leftmost Democrats in both congressional chambers and a fair number of Republicans, will provide majorities for the infrastructure plan to pass. Biden, desperate for any victory he can find, will have to support the infrastructure legislation even if he cannot pass his bloated bill.

As was made evident by news reports this week, both senators (especially Manchin) enjoy additional leverage in that if they leave the Senate Democratic Caucus, Democrats lose their Senate majority altogether. That means Democrats will lose control of the floor schedule, control of committees, and control of the agenda. It also means that, for the sake of better serving the interests of their constituents, either Manchin or Sinema could virtually write their own tickets in terms of concessions from Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

They also could figure, probably rightly, that Republicans will retake congressional majorities anyway in 2022, after which their party switches would hold little relevance. Contrarily, if they leave the Democrats (including the Democratic Caucus) now, they will go from being the target of unmitigated vitriol from the party with which they now identify to being feted as absolute heroes by their new party affiliates. They could easily turn that adulation into policy benefits for their constituents.

The White House may have sandbagged Manchin by leaking his party switch ruminations to left-wing journalist David Corn . Corn is a good reporter, but his sources are almost all on the Left. Corn reports that Manchin “mentioned the possibility [of switching] to Biden.” It’s not hard to read between the lines that the White House (or another Democratic operative) is trying to pressure Manchin by prematurely blowing his cover.

If I were Manchin, I’d be furious at the White House and thus even more likely to punish Biden by leaving.

Either way, Corn’s report gives Manchin more leverage, not less. Manchin can now walk away from the bloated social spending package entirely, knowing that Democratic leader Chuck Schumer is on notice that his control of the Senate is at serious risk unless he decouples the two bills from one another. Manchin can say, “pass the infrastructure bill now, with no other commitments,” and he can make it stick.

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