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Many People In DC Wonder Why Manchin Hasn't Jumped To The GOP Yet



Everyone in DC knows that Manchin-- not the sharpest knife in the drawer to begin with-- gets many of his talking points from the RNC via McConnell's office. McConnell and Manchin (as well as Sinema) are determined to delay, if not destroy, the Build Back Better plan. The Republicans are pretending it will heighten the inflation caused by 4 years of Trumpism. Right out of the GOP playbook, Manchin said, somewhat incoherently, today that "Inflation is real, it's not transitory. It's alarming. It's going up, not down. And I think that should be something we're concerned about. And geopolitical fallout. These are all concerns ... The unknown right now is very, very great." He added that he and Biden would be discussing "exactly what happened on Friday with the CBO score and inflation reports and things of that sort."


I bet he doesn't subscribe to Noah Smith's newsletter. If he did-- or if someone who does got him to read today's-- he could have a better understanding of what inflation is and how it's playing out today. Smith explained how Build Back Better isn't going tome inflation worse, which the Republicans and Manchin, pretend they're worried about. "Republicans," wrote Smith, are using inflation as a reason to call for the cancellation of President Biden’s signature spending initiative, the Build Back Better bill. Right-leaning economic policy advisors concur. It’s possible that centrist Democratic senators like Joe Manchin-- who has warned about the dangers of spending money in an inflationary environment-- will go along with this, and quash the bill. That would be a big mistake. The BBB bill wouldn’t add materially to inflation."



Besides, when it comes to what Manchin wants to accomplish in the Senate, his family's coal brokerage is far more important to him than anything else. As Michael Kranish and Anna Phillips reported in the Washington Post this morning, "When pressed about whether he has a conflict of interest, Manchin bristles. 'I have been in a blind trust for 20 years. I have no idea what they’re doing,' the senator told reporters in September, referring to his family’s coal firm. 'You got a problem?' But contrary to his public statements, documents filed by the senator show the blind trust is much too small to account for all his reported earnings from the coal company, as of his latest financial disclosure report, which covers 2020 and was filed in May. Manchin’s latest financial disclosure report says that the West Virginia family coal business that he helped found and run, Enersystems, paid him $492,000 in interest, dividends and other income in 2020, and that his share of the firm is worth between $1 million and $5 million. He signed a sworn statement saying he is aware of these earnings, underscoring that he is not blind to them... If Manchin’s coal interests are not in a blind trust, ethics experts said, it calls into question the impartiality of a senator who in October forced Biden to drop the plan in his Build Back Better bill to phase out the same kinds of coal plants that are key to his family company’s profitability."


The senator’s effort to dismiss questions about his coal interests by declaring he has a blind trust is “misleading and at worst it’s just not true,” said Don Fox, a former general counsel and acting director of the Office of Government Ethics in the Obama administration, who examined Manchin’s financial records at the Washington Post’s request. He cited the vast difference between Manchin’s reported income from the trust and his family’s coal business.
...It is legal for Manchin to make millions of dollars from his coal interests even as he chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and legislates on matters affecting the industry. That is because members of Congress are not required to divest their assets to avoid a potential industry conflict.
... Congressional rules are more lenient than, for example, those governing many top executive branch officials, whose assets would be reviewed by the Office of Government Ethics for potential conflicts of interest, making them subject to a requirement to divest, recuse or seek a waiver.
Craig Holman, an ethics expert at Public Citizen, said that regardless of the congressional rules, Manchin’s declaration in the trust that he wants to “avoid any conflict of interest, or any appearance of such a conflict” is undercut by his simultaneous earnings from a coal business and his work against climate policies.
“It is a very blatant conflict of interest,” Holman said, citing the senator’s financial disclosures. “Manchin is not only very wealthy, but most of his assets and wealth are invested in a single industry, coal.”
Holman said Manchin’s financial position is one of the most conflicted of any member of Congress he has studied because so much of the senator’s financial stake is in the coal industry while he is playing a key role on climate policies. Nonetheless, he said, “what Manchin is doing is not illegal. The conflict of interest code for Congress is just way too weak.”
Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN), who sought for months to convince Manchin to support the plan to transition power companies to cleaner forms of energy, said the West Virginia senator ultimately balked. Manchin’s opposition effectively killed one of the most far-reaching climate policies in the bill, outraging environmentalists and leading to an increased focus on his family’s coal business and his own earnings.
...Manchin could further scale back Biden’s climate change efforts. The senator has also objected to a measure in the Build Back Better bill designed to reduce emissions of methane, the main component of natural gas, and a tax credit for electric cars. He has not yet announced his support for the Democrats’ spending bill.

Meanwhile, Manchin and his related PAC, continue raking in the big bucks, primarily in the form of bribes from corporations eager for him to continue blocking Build Back Better and from Republican Party donors. As you can see, the Manchin PAC just had it's best off-year November in history-- by far.



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