It took ‘em a while, but the Democrat left finally woke up.
When a deal between Democrat Senate Majority Leader “Chucky” Schumer and West Virginia Democrat senator Joe Manchin was announced last week, for all intents and purposes it appeared senile president Joe Biden would finally get a victory -- though one dramatically scaled down -- on his inane and unwise Build Back (More) Better agenda. In case you need a review, Manchin had long been the sticking point in the intra-party struggle to bring all fifty Democrat (or Democrat so-called Independents) senators into the fold.
Vice President Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote for whatever her former Democrat senate colleagues came up with was never in doubt. The lightweight affirmative action Californian probably never had an original thought, so Joe’s handlers say -- and she inevitably does. Just don’t ask the politically challenged woman to deliver a speech explaining her actions – she’s practically useless.
At any rate, Manchin had repeatedly rebuffed his party leadership. Time and again expectant establishment media talkers invited the man onto their shows hoping against hope that he would exhibit signs of breaking only to be turned away for what masqueraded as principles, or something like that. The West Virginian, who’s been described as the last Democrat from a deep red state, had consistently lectured that borrowing and/or taxing more money in times of high inflation wasn’t prudent.
Some folks were dumb enough to believe Manchin was serious, but low and behold, a couple weeks ago he cried “Psych!” and reversed his position, explaining how he was able to bring “Chucky” around to his long-held position. I haven’t read the whole bill, but just the “green” provisions alone would spell real negative consequences for his energy-dependent state.
But no matter, Manchin is a Democrat! Let those ignorant rube Trump-supporting coal miners eat cake! What do they know about “greening” the planet, anyway? Don’t they run their air conditioners like everyone else regardless of the purported damage done to the atmosphere? Here’s thinking that Manchin’s Maserati adds a ton of carbon to the air. What a hypocrite!
Manchin and fellow Democrat senator Kyrsten Sinema (of Arizona) had further thwarted their spending hungry Democrat colleagues by refusing to budge on abolishing the filibuster tradition. If the filibuster for legislation were done away with like it had been for all federal judicial nominees, then Democrats could pass whatever they wanted as long as they collected fifty head nods to do so. The sky would be the limit!
The pressure on Manchin to bend was enormous on both counts. With polls showing Democrats trailing badly on this year’s midterm generic ballot, “Chucky” likely got down on his knees and begged “Please! Please! Please!” during negotiations and offered Manchin anything he wanted if the soon-to-be 75-year-old (on August 24) would bend. So, like the coward that he is, Joe did. The weather is more unpredictable than a Democrat senator.
Not all Democrats were happy about “Chucky” bowing at Manchin’s feet to forge an agreement. The contingent of hardcore leftists – which, in reality, is most of them – recognized that they had leverage, too. If just one of them held out and refused to back the new Chucky/Manchin pact, then the whole deal would fall apart.
What took them so long? Bernie Sanders wanted more… much more. Aris Folley reported at The Hill before the fateful senate vote:
“While Sanders voiced satisfaction with certain parts the narrower plan in floor remarks earlier this week, he also made pointed remarks at the bill, which he said ‘does virtually nothing to address the enormous crises that working families all across this country are facing today.’
“The Vermont senator specifically announced he would be introducing an amendment ‘to make sure that Medicare pays no more for prescription drugs than the [Veterans Affairs]. He also pushed for measures to provide ‘comprehensive dental vision and hearing benefits,’ in addition to lowering ‘the Medicare eligibility age to at least 60’ and to extend the solvency of Medicare.
“’Given that this is the last reconciliation bill that we will be considering this year, it is the only opportunity that we have to do something significant to the American people that requires only 50 votes, and that cannot be filibustered,’ he stressed from the floor of the upper chamber.”
You go, Bernie! Stand on principle! Vote no! Vote no! Vote no! Don’t worry… he caved and voted for Chucky’s and Manchin’s bill.
For what it’s worth, all of the other far-left Democrat senators interviewed for Folley’s story took more of a pragmatic line than the senile old coot from Vermont, expressing that they agreed with a lot of what “The Bern” was complaining about -- namely the bill’s puny (to Democrats) size -- but they also needed to remain unified so as to pass what they could. This was still a lot of dough, mind you, even if it wasn’t the original $6 trillion that Sanders and Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Warren had demanded way back when.
Democrats are always very good at seeing the big picture, namely that hundreds of billions in wasted spending is much superior to zero dollars of prudent non-spending. In this vision, they’re kind of like a homeless man holding out his hand begging for a twenty-dollar bill and then receiving only a half-eaten fast-food sandwich instead. As my mom used to say, “If he’s hungry enough, he’ll eat.” It was a long time ago, but I recall I was never quite hungry enough to stoop to eating tuna casserole. Yuck!
But Democrats are a different animal entirely. Remember in 2017 when Republican John McCain pulled his support at (literally) the 11th hour for a last-ditch conservative effort to partially repeal and replace the disastrous Obamacare? Saving taxpayer money never seems to be a big enough justification for establishment Republicans to unite. Their appetite for paring down the budget never quite matches the Democrats’ ravenous desire to spend. And tax. That’s why they lose every time.
McCain’s action let the air out of the Trump backers’ balloon. Thus the soon-to-be deceased senator had his ultimate revenge against Donald Trump, depriving the new president of a fulfilled campaign promise to finally get rid of Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement. McCain did so by claiming he sought a return to “regular order” with committee mark-ups and the like, when in reality he just didn’t want to make his Democrat friends mad.
This time, Democrats weren’t about to let Manchin simply get away with a McCain-like treachery. The West Virginian announced that he’d had an epiphany and the rest of the Democrats sighed in relief – including Kyrsten Sinema – and all was hunky dory in Democrat-land until Bernie spoke up. The Vermont socialist must’ve realized that the window for passing his all-encompassing government dreams was closing rapidly.
You can just picture the scene now. Do your best Bernie Sanders accent and say, “Hey, why didn’t I get what I wanted? How come nobody came to me and begged for my vote? It was my support of that idiot Biden that consolidated the real socialist voters of this party into a coalition that could beat Trump. If I’d walked back then, Biden wouldn’t have won and he wouldn’t be president today. Where’s the love?”
Rather than getting many, many bones tossed in his direction, Sanders had to settle for a vote-a-rama over the weekend before the ultimate tally on the total bill. Republicans were permitted to introduce some amendments of their own to get Democrats on the record, but Sanders eventually succumbed to his desire to spend – anything – and went along with all of his party colleagues.
You see? Now Republicans can legitimately claim that Joe Manchin – and all Democrats – are really no different than “The Bern”, “Pocahontas”, Cory Booker, Mazie Hirono and “Chucky” Schumer. If that doesn’t provide enough incentive for this fall’s voters to select Republican candidates, I don’t know what would further convince them. Maybe an FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago?
As I’ve argued for a long time now, there is no such thing as a “centrist” or “moderate” Democrat anymore. Any legislator who would vote for a gigantic job-killing and bloated tax and spend package like what the Democrats passed on a party-line vote can’t possibly claim to be “in the middle”. Such largesse even makes Republicans like Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney look conservative by comparison.
Who knows whether “The Bern” could’ve made a bigger impression if he had inserted himself in on “Chucky’s” and Manchin’s behind-closed-doors chat sessions earlier in the process? Sanders is frequently asked by the media to contribute his thoughts and opinions on Democrat spending legislation and he offers the typical “it’s not enough” answer every time.
One gets the impression that sooner or later the rabid left-wingers like Sanders and “The Squad” (in the House) will be the ones running the show, and they’ll be much less willing to “compromise” on big programs that they insist are “necessary” to save the country.
Now that the senate concocted travesty passed in the upper chamber, it shouldn’t have much trouble getting through the House despite the Democrats’ razor-thin partisan advantage there. Speaker Nancy Pelosi isn’t about to let her caucus deprive her of what could be her final major legislative victory, cementing her legacy as one of the nation’s biggest spenders ever.
“Chucky”, Nancy and senile Joe will hold one of their showy signing ceremonies and Joe Manchin will be right there smiling along with the rest of ‘em. Will “The Bern” make an appearance as well after being locked out of the real input? Better frame the photos, folks, because there should be a new regime heading to Washington next year. Or we can only hope.
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