In the State of the Union clip above, Bernie bends over backwards and does somersaults to be respectful to Joe Manchin and his warped and dishonest perspective and he reminded Dana Bash that the real culprit in the failure of the Senate to enact structure reform to benefit working families is the unhinged Republican Party. Manchin, though, had just said on Meet the Press that "We don't have the need to rush into this and get it done within one week because there's some deadline we're meeting or someone's going to fall through the cracks... I want to make sure that children are getting taken care of, that people are basically having an opportunity to go back to work. We have 11 million jobs that we haven't filled, 8 million people still unemployed. Something's not matching up there." But those are just talking points, not what Manchin is actually doing as a U.S. Senator who never strays from what his billionaire backers expect from him. He's still carrying on about his "pause" idea. I've never heard a more blatantly (and unskillfully) full-of-shit politician than Joe Manchin in my life. Even the goofballs in the Trump family are smoother.
The progressive candidate running for the Democratic Party Senate nomination in Pennsylvania, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, seemed pissed off after Manchin's appearance this morning on the two shows. He sent a letter to his supporters saying that "Manchin "went on CNN just now to say that Senate Democrats 'will not have my vote' on President Biden’s $3.5 trillion Build Back Better plan. Seriously. It’s a huge blow to the president’s agenda, and an even bigger blow to the working families of Pennsylvania and the USA who need our help. I believe Democrats should vote like Democrats. If we don’t, we’ll be voting under the terms and policies set by Republicans... Democrats have the House. Democrats have the Senate. Democrats have the White House. If we don’t pass the stuff we got elected to pass right now, when are we going to pass it? I promise you this. If you elect me, I will not patiently wait for 10 Republicans to hop on board before voting my conscience. I will vote to get stuff done." In Fetterman's case, that includes voting to shit-can the Jim Crow filibuster.
Missouri economic populist Lucas Kunce told me after the CNN show that "Elites in Washington spent $6 trillion for twenty years of war, but they want a strategic pause on investing a fraction of that here at home. Nation building at home isn’t their priority, and that’s the problem with Washington right now. It’s shameful. Americans deserve better than these hacks."
Another progressive Senate candidate-- Erica Smith in North Carolina-- feels just as strongly as Kunce and Fetterman. "The battle between Bernie Sanders and Joe Manchin over the size of the reconciliation package is functionally a battle between working people and corporations," she told me a few hours ago. "Senator Sanders is fighting to deliver policy changes that will transform the lives of those who are struggling just to get by while Senator Manchin is fighting for the corporations that have bought him. Joe Manchin wants to 'press pause' on a reconciliation package that would expand and improve Medicare, education, childcare, and broadband but has done nothing to 'press pause' on the monopolies that are hollowing out our communities. What's he doing to 'press pause' on the assault on our voting rights or the police brutality that is taking the lives of Black women who look like me and Black men who look like my sons.
"Today," she continued, "Joe Manchin asked 'what's the urgency' for pushing this package through? I've battled bankruptcy because of medical bills. I've had to work two jobs just to hold onto my home, drive 30 minutes just to get reliable broadband, and seen floods and storms take lives in districts I've represented. The urgency is that people are suffering. People are struggling. People are dying. And it's all preventable if only our Representatives cared. To echo Senator Sanders, 3.5 trillion is the floor, and without a reconciliation package, the infrastructure package shouldn't get through. We should not build new bridges just so people can live under them. We should not pave new roads while keeping real pathways of opportunity closed. We should not and we cannot lose this fight to the corporations and the corrupt politicians who want to see Government work exclusively for them at the expense of the rest of us."
So where's Biden going to come down? Every instinct in his body probably wants him to align with Manchin against the American people; that's who he's always been. But the $3.5 trillion package is the only thing that will save his presidency and keep his pathetic party in control of Congress. So he is telling Democrats-- at least from one side of his mouth-- to look beyond the bottom line. Maybe even he's been paying attention to Stephanie Kelton! Think he read her newest book? Yeah, me neither.
Biden is trying to persuade Democrats to embrace a more emotional argument, namely that the plan is fair, that it increases taxes on those who can afford to pay more and spends money on programs targeting children and the middle class.
The president has proposed more than $3 trillion worth of revenue increases, primarily through higher taxes for corporations and the country’s richest households as well as greater IRS enforcement that would target the wealthy. But key lawmakers voiced doubts this past week about the size and possible impacts on the economy as congressional committees considered the measures and a wide array of business groups sifted through the details to highlight what they oppose.
Interviews with three administration officials suggest the White House is comfortable with settling for a lower price tag as part of the negotiating process [vintage Joe Biden], so long as the end result produces a tax system that voters judge as fair. The officials, who were not authorized to publicly discuss ongoing negotiations and spoke on condition of anonymity, said Democrats are united on this front.
This was some of a letter the president and chairman of Patriotic Millionaires sent Biden today: "[W]e are writing to ask you to stand firmly behind your entire $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Agenda and to use the full force of your Administration to ensure its passage, including taking any and all actions necessary to stop the 11 rogue members of your own party currently attempting to block your agenda."
As you well know, the aptly-named Sabotage Caucus, which includes 9 House members and 2 Senators, seeks to block progress for the entire nation in order to ensure that the wealthiest people in the country continue to receive preferential treatment in the tax code. The Patriotic Millionaires view their actions as profound betrayal of the country in its hour of greatest need. We believe the vast majority of decent Americans agree with our assessment.
Our nation can obviously afford the investments that you have called for. Frankly, what it can’t afford is a continuation of the status quo. Those who refuse to make the necessary investments in order to protect the extraordinary wealth of the few at the top are, at best, misguided and wrong. Their efforts to perpetuate the unfair advantage the uber-wealthy receive in the tax code should be challenged head on.
There is simply no intellectual, moral, or economic justification for the public position these lawmakers have taken: that it is better to block your agenda than it is to raise taxes on billionaires.
Please see HERE a Politico piece from Friday detailing our plans to hold these politicians accountable for their betrayal...
It is incomprehensible to our members-- and to most Americans-- that 11 members of your own party would block critical investments in our future in order to ensure that the wealthiest people in the country continue to enjoy an unfair advantage in the tax code. These misguided lawmakers seem to believe the future will be won by holding firmly to the past. They are wrong.
To be clear, the Patriotic Millionaires organization will actively and aggressively challenge Democrats who refuse to support your agenda, and we will actively recruit other high net worth Americans to do the same.
Our country is already suffering destabilizing levels of inequality. The Republican Tax Code, which passed in 2017 on a party line, ensures that our nation will become even more unequal even more quickly over time.
A year from now, your party and your legacy will be on the ballot. Democrats will either be the party that took bold, effective action to meet an historic crisis, or it will be the party that caved to 11 rogue members in order to protect the status quo and appease the wealthiest people in the country with billions of dollars of unfair tax breaks. Unless they are stopped, the 11 members of the Sabotage Caucus will ensure the following:
That Americans who actually work for a living pay almost double the tax rate as wealthy Americans like us who live off of our investments;
That our heirs will continue to inherit billions of dollars tax free;
That corporations receive tax breaks for moving plants and equipment overseas; and
That the wealthiest people in the country will never suffer any consequence for illegally avoiding taxes.
That hardly seems a winning platform for the Democratic Party. We believe that if Democrats do not make people like us pay our fair share, they will pay at the ballot box.