Manchin Will Get (most of) What He Wants

Written by SK Ashby

Congressional Democrats are still trying not to invoke the R-word, but horse-trading for support for using budget reconciliation to bypass Republican opposition to pass President Biden's infrastructure proposal has begun.

Using reconciliation may come down to just one or two senators including Joe Manchin (D-WV) who clearly understands and intends to use the leverage the party's narrow majority affords him.

Manchin participated in a local radio interview on Monday in which he said he supports raising taxes to pay for the proposal, but not by as much as Biden has proposed. He also explicitly acknowledged how much leverage he has.

“The bill, basically, is not going to end up that way,” Manchin said in his Monday radio interview. “If I don’t vote to get on it, it’s not going anywhere. So we’re going to have some leverage here. And it’s more than just me, Hoppy, there’s six or seven other Democrats that feel very strongly about this.” [...]

Manchin said he would be comfortable raising the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 25 percent but said the United States has “to be competitive and we’re not going to throw caution to the wind.”

He also signaled he wants a tighter focus on infrastructure and still wants bipartisan buy-in, though he said his Republican colleagues “can’t just be against everything.”

Personally, I can't be mad at Manchin for using his position this way because in a more ideal world the other party would behave more like Manchin.

It's completely normal and ordinary for a lawmaker to say they want something in return for their support. What's not normal and unordinary is the Republican party refusing to negotiate at all even if doing so would afford more things or accomplish some of their own priorities to the extent that they even have any priorities.

Manchin knows he's not going to get every single thing he wants and that corporate taxes may have to go up higher than he likes, but he also knows he can get some things by dangling his support on the end of a hook. Moreover, his public opposition on local radio in West Virginia is also part of a strategy to distance himself from other Democrats even if he will ultimately vote for a spending package.

If this is what he needs to do to remain in office in West Virginia, that's fine. If Manchin weren't in office, he would most likely be replaced by a Republican and Democrats wouldn't have a majority to do anything. Manchin rarely breaks from the party when it truly matters and most of his reputation as a centrist stems from his words but not his actual votes. Just don't tell the conservative voters of West Virginia that open secret.