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President Manchin Is Forcing Biden To Waste More Time Negotiating With The Obstructionists

"Bipartisanship" by Nancy Ohanian

So... mañana, Biden plans to waste more time and energy meeting with McConnell obstructionist assistant Shelley Moore Capito, the other anti-worker West Virginia corporate shill. Punchbowl's pre-dawn report today hyped it up as "certain to be a big moment in the infrastructure negotiations between Biden and Senate Republicans. The two sides remain hundreds of billions apart on spending, and they can’t even agree on what 'infrastructure' is." But neither of those things are at the heart of the problem, both of which are immensely negotiable. What the problem really is is "who pays?" Despite trying to rebrand themselves the party of the working class-- or at least the brainwashed. brain-dead portion often working class-- McConnell, Capito and the rest of them insist on regressive sales taxes, VATs and user fees plus borrowing, while Biden and the Democrats say they will not back down on more equitable tax rates for the rich and on corporate profits, the popular position according to all polling on the matter since the beginning of Biden's term.

Over the weekend, Mayor Pete-- who no one takes seriously-- warned that "there has to be a 'clear direction' on infrastructure talks by June 7, which is when Congress returns from the Memorial Day recess. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has a markup of its own infrastructure bill set for June 9... So the clock is ticking." And while it's ticking, Democrats-- especially Manchin and Sinema-- need to keep in mind what McConnell has said, quite publicly: "One hundred percent of my focus is on stopping this new administration."

Punchbowl revealed that Senate Republicans are already privately warning them that "there is 'not going to be any deal' this week barring some dramatic last-minute turnaround," meaning a surrender by Biden, Schumer and Pelosi. Biden is so desperate to be seen as bipartisan that I wouldn't put it past him. It also means he, Schumer and Pelosi have to decide if they have reached the moment that was inevitable all along-- namely that the only way to move beyond the time-wasting, stalling charade is to pass the infrastructure and jobs bill (and Family Plan for that matter) via reconciliation.

Punchbowl also reported that "Capito has said this on multiple occasions following meetings with the president-- Biden sounds ready to make deals when he’s in with Republicans, and then White House officials and Democratic leaders later walk it back. The White House vehmently denies this and it really irks them, and Senate Republicans say it on repeat. We’ll have to see if Biden takes a harder line this time with Capito, as a number of Democrats on the Hill have already had enough of these infrastructure talks with Republicans and want to move on."

McConnell sees his job as obstructionism and Manchin is too thick to understand the difference between giving the minority party "a voice" and giving a ruthless obstructionist like McConnell "a veto." If the Democrats couldn't find the 10 necessary Republicans to shut down a GOP filibuster of the sedition commission, there is no issue they will ever be able to overcome a McConnell filibuster on. Biden just has to get that through his head and understand it is no longer the 1980s. It is worth remember that in 2013 Manchin was one of 3 Democrats (plus every Republican) unwilling to vote to end the filibuster for appointees.

An old friend of mine, Murshed Zaheed, used to work for Harry Reid when he was Senate Majority Leader. He said he thinks "the biggest lesson is never trust Republicans and always expect the worst from Mitch McConnell. I don’t think Democrats should be giving Republicans any chance at this point." The Senate Republicans do not operate in good faith.

Last week Chris Hayes tweeted that McConnell has been successfully re-running what they did with the ACA with infrastructure. I predict there will be zero (0) GOP votes for the bill no matter what. This morning Morgan Chalfant, reporting for The Hill, wrote that "For Biden, who campaigned as a unity candidate who could work across the aisle, inking a bipartisan deal in the first year of his presidency would be a major accomplishment that he could wield ahead of the 2022 midterm elections. No Republican voted in favor of Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief legislation earlier this year, and the partisan divisions in Washington have left many skeptical of the possibility of bipartisan infrastructure legislation."

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