Donald Trump won West Virginia by more than 40 points over Hillary Clinton in 2016, and the state's Democratic governor switched partisan affiliations last year, due to the electorate's sharp realignment away from the party of Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. It's not surprising, then, that Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin would get a bit jittery ahead of the president coming to town. Having been raked over the coals for opposing key elements of the Trump agenda by Vice President Pence (in response to which he declared that Washington "sucks" and circulated a hypocritical petition that would have prevented his Republicans Senate colleagues from campaigning against him), Manchin launched a preemptive strike against Trump's visit, attempting to defend his vote against tax reform while demanding that the president answer some questions:
- What happens to the West Virginians who lose their health care (due to the tax law eliminating the individual mandate)?
- Will Republicans cut Social Security and Medicare to pay for the tax cut?
- Why aren’t the middle-class tax cuts under the law permanent?
(1) One does not "lose" healthcare if one chooses to cease paying for an unaffordable healthcare plan, the purchase of which is no longer made compulsory by federal edicts. Is Joe Manchin now a big fan of Obamacare's coercive individual mandate tax? Perhaps that shouldn't be a surprise, given his track record of voting down all attempts to repeal and replace a failing law (which was failing long before tax reform became a reality, no thanks to him).
(2) Allowing citizens and businesses to keep more of the money they earn is not government spending that needs to be "paid for." Also, even after the tax cuts, the federal government's revenue levels as a percentage of GDP are still above the average of recent decades. Spending -- especially unsustainable, "mandatory" spending -- is the problem. That is simple math. It was the simple math before competition-enhancing and economy-boosting tax reform became a reality (again, no thanks to Manchin). Does the senior Senator from West Virginia have a plan to save Social Security and Medicare for future generations? Or is he going to align himself with his party's big lie in order to grandstand and demagogue? If he's like the rest of his party, he won't offer serious solutions.
(3) The middle class tax cuts aren't permanent because of a budget mechanism the GOP exploited to allow tax reform to pass with 51 votes. Joe Manchin knows all about reconciliation; his party used it to pass Obamacare, which he has repeatedly defended. He also knows full well that recent history strongly suggests that the likelihood of these tax cuts expiring, thus levying a tax hike on the American people, is nearly zero. Also, doesn't this question's wording confirm that Manchin...voted against middle class tax cuts? It does, because he did. If he's suddenly so concerned about making the tax cuts that he opposed permanent, file a bill. Help whip 60 votes. In any case, Trump rolled into West Virginia and slammed Manchin:
"I thought [Manchin] would be helpful on tax reform because he talks...but he votes against everything. He voted against our tax cuts, and that was bad...and he does other things that I don't like, I'll be honest with you...you're going to have a chance to get a Senator that's going to vote [for] our program...You're not getting that help right now."
Earlier in the week, we brought you video of Southwest Airlines workers thanking Speaker Ryan for the tangible help they've received from tax reform bonuses. Here's a West Virginia woman tearfully expressing her gratitude to Trump for the tax cut, which has benefitted her family:
By the way, with more signs pointing toward a blue wave building nationwide, Republicans may need to count on a number of red state Democratic Senate incumbents losing in order to retain control of the upper chamber (the importance of which Mitch McConnell reminds us here). If Tennessee -- gulp -- keeps trending toward a bona fide pick-up opportunity for Democrats, the GOP had better hope that Trump state voters will do what it takes to take down the Manchins, McCaskills, Heitkamps and Donnellys of the world in November.