Given that these days there is no such thing as a conservative Democrat we don’t usually concern ourselves with intramural squabbles in the Democratic Party, but a recent article in
our friend Stephen Moore’s must-read newsletter alerted us to what could become a real battle in the Senate’s Democrat caucus.
It turns out that the Democrats’ $3 trillion “infrastructure” bill does not spend enough to satisfy Vermont’s Socialist Democrat Senator Bernie Sanders, and he is threatening to withhold his vote, which would defeat the bill in the evenly divided Senate.
Joseph Zeballos-Roig, of Yahoo News, reported Bernie indicated that he would oppose a Democrat-only spending bill if its price tag didn't top $3 trillion, brushing anything lower as too meager. It may set the stage for a confrontation between Sanders and moderate Democrats looking to restrain the size of a follow-up package, wrote Mr. Zeballos-Roig.
In an interview with New York Times opinion columnist Maureen Dowd published Saturday, the Vermont senator ruled out backing a party-line infrastructure plan that amounted to either $2 trillion or $3 trillion.
"That's much too low," he told Dowd. He also pulled out a list of his priorities for a reconciliation package.
As chair of the Senate Budget Committee, Sanders wields enormous influence over reconciliation since the panel helps set overall spending levels. Senate Democrats are weighing up to $6 trillion in spending aimed at overhauling the economy with new initiatives in childcare, higher education, monthly cash payments to families, and clean energy programs.
Bernie’s demands appeared to include many of those priorities, such as broadband, climate, childcare, universal pre-K, paid family and medical leave, Medicare expansion and housing among others.
"Does anyone deny that our childcare system, for example, is a disaster?" Sanders told Dowd. "Does anyone deny that pre-K, similarly, is totally inadequate? Does anyone deny that there's something absurd that our young people can't afford to go to college or are leaving school deeply in debt? Does anybody deny that our physical infrastructure is collapsing?"
The assumption seems to be that Sanders's remarks could potentially set up a showdown with Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia as Democrats move ahead with a reconciliation spending package. (Reconciliation is a legislative tactic Democrats are poised to use and circumvent Republicans because only a simple majority is needed for certain bills.)
Manchin, for his part, has made clear he favors a party-line package that's fully paid for with tax increases and doesn't grow the national debt. He previously suggested a $2 trillion price tag.
"I've agreed that can be done. I just haven't agreed on the amount," he told MSNBC late last month. "I haven't seen everything that everybody is wanting to put into the bill."
To us that does not sound like opposition or that Manchin is ready to pick a fight with Bernie – he’s just saying he hasn’t seen the final proposal, and is working his own political triangulation by suggesting a no growth in the national debt formula he knows will go absolutely nowhere with his fellow Democrats.
Mr. Zeballos-Roig reported (not-my-President) Biden has already struck a $1 trillion infrastructure agreement with a centrist group of lawmakers concentrated on roads, bridges, and highways. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has dug in on not passing the plan until the Senate also approves a separate reconciliation package containing measures unlikely to draw Republican support.
However, whether there are 60 “centrists” in the Senate remains an open question. Just because squishes and RINOs like Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski are willing to go along with it doesn’t mean such a bill can cross the 60-vote threshold to break a filibuster.
Plus, Biden already blew that up and made Romney look like an idiot by admitting the plan was to do the real infrastructure in the “centrist” bill and throw everything else into the reconciliation package.
We would love to see this spending extravaganza blow-up the Senate Democrats, but we doubt that is going to happen. What is much more likely is that every Democrat is going to dump their spending wish list into the reconciliation bill, and it will pass on a party line vote – no matter how big it is – because the only principle Democrats have in common is their commitment to stay in power.
Joe Manchin’s job in the Democrat caucus is to be the Judas Goat that leads dumb Republicans like RINOs Romney and Murkowski to “compromises” that lead America further away from conservative principles. The toll-free Capitol Switchboard is (1-866-220-0044) call today and tell your Senator to oppose any so-called bipartisan spending “compromise” offered to Republicans by Judas Goat Joe Manchin.
Sanders priorities reconciliation
Sen. Joe Manchin
separate reconciliation package