Joe Biden is well aware of the damage Joe Manchin is doing to what he says is his domestic agenda. But he still affords him the courtesy of a white gentlemen.
All of this will come into sharp focus as the Build Back Better Act moves from success in the House to an uncertain fate in the Senate. Poised to reject or at least reshape the would-be landmark legislation is Joe Manchin and he isn’t normally very accommodating towards Progressive initiatives.
Joe Manchin is corrupt, plain and simple. His direct ties to the energy industry and his own personal stake in the affairs that come before him as Chairman of the Senate Energy Committee make him outrageously conflicted. Merely having that chairmanship should make Joe Manchin a loyal servant of the Democratic Party.
This gives or should give Joe Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer all the leverage they need to move Manchin on social spending. It is not that Biden and Schumer cannot move Manchin it is that so far they have so far chosen not to.
Again for the record, Joe Manchin is rather unlikely to flee the Democratic Party. Progressive Democratic Strategist Chai Komanduri broke this down quite nicely with Ari Melber in September. The gist of what Komanduri was saying is that Manchin would likely not be able to mount a successful Senate campaign in West Virginia as a Republican or an Independent. In truth according to Komanduri, Manchin really doesn’t have anywhere to go.
I fairness it’s not impossible that Manchin could leave the Democratic party and still remain as the Chairman of the Senate Energy Committee but it isn’t very likely. Biden and Schumer should be able move Manchin with appropriate levels of persuasion and force. It will require some tact, but it’s hardly a bridge too far.
Joe Manchin is doing considerable damage to the Progressive planks in Biden’s platform. Is he Biden’s nemesis or Biden’s foil? Is Joe Manchin giving Joe Biden the excuse he needs to move to the center and abandon the Progressive programs that got him elected? Or is Joe Manchin the anchor chained to Biden’s approval ratings that he ostensibly appears to be?
The degree to which Biden and Schumer are willing to confront and rein in the duplicitous actor from West Virginia will tell the tale. Joe Manchin doesn’t own the Chairmanship of the Senate Energy Committee, it is granted to him by the Democratic Party. The time has come for Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer to remind him of that.
Marc Ash is the founder and former Executive Director of Truthout, and is now founder and Editor of Reader Supported News.
Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.