Go back and read yesterday's post on inflation. The bad new numbers are landing at an inopportune time for Democrats, who got shellacked last week in the off-year elections, quasi-panicked and struck a deal to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill just a few days later. Suddenly, it appeared, the prospect of doing nothing seemed materially worse than doing something. But in the process of passing "BIF" (bipartisan infrastructure framework), progressives released the legislative hostage they'd been holding for weeks on end. In return, they got assurances from more moderate members that if the eventual CBO score aligns with White House projections, they'll also pass the lower chamber version of the partisan "BBB" (build back better) reconciliation spending scheme. It's unclear what the CBO will determine, and there's some discussion of waving the need for a full CBO score after all, which is insanity.
But a big reason why leftists wanted BIF and BBB inextricably linked is their fundamental mistrust of the Senate – and two senators in particular. West Virginia's Joe Manchin and Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema helped negotiate the infrastructure package along with their Republican counterparts, and will certainly take a victory lap when it's signed into law next week. They've always been less enthusiastic about BBB, and now that proposal is twisting in the wind on its own. Even if the House gets its act together and passes whatever is finalized by Pelosi and company, this time with zero help from Republicans, the Senate is a different ballgame. Chuck Schumer can't afford to lose a single Democratic vote. And one of his must-have votes is once again expressing loud concerns about inflation and national debt (in fairness, Manchin has been making both points for months now), and is therefore sounding wobbly on BBB. After yesterday's economic statistics were released, Manchin tweeted this, touching off speculation about his intentions:
By all accounts, the threat posed by record inflation to the American people is not “transitory” and is instead getting worse. From the grocery store to the gas pump, Americans know the inflation tax is real and DC can no longer ignore the economic pain Americans feel every day.— Senator Joe Manchin (@Sen_JoeManchin) November 10, 2021
Might he be getting serious about his "strategic pause" idea, which would push a controversial and expensive agenda item, now detached from infrastructure, into an election year that is already looking scary for Democrats. That wouldn't necessarily be a death knell, but it would increase the chances that "Build Back Better" gets watered down even further, or tanks altogether. This Axios piece may be a trial balloon or table-setter on Manchin's intentions:
Red-hot inflation data validates the instinct of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to punt President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda until next year — potentially killing a quick deal on the $1.75 trillion package, people familiar with the matter tell Axios. The data released Wednesday set the president and White House staff scrambling. Slowing down work on the massive tax-and-spending plan is against the fervent desire of the administration and House progressives. With a limited number of legislative days left in the year, Manchin is content to focus on the issues that need to be addressed, Axios is told. They include funding the government, raising the debt ceiling and passing the National Defense Authorization Act. Manchin, like a group of House moderates, also wants to see a Congressional Budget Office analysis of the true cost of each of Biden’s proposed programs, as well as the tax proposals to fund them...Progressives have long worried that after centrists got their $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, they'd find excuses not to move on the budget reconciliation package.
There are qualifiers in that excerpt, of course, including the word "potentially," but it seems entirely plausible that Manchin will push the process down the road, likely sparking an angry backlash from the Left. Also, if Manchin and/or Sinema aren't on board, why would House 'moderates' agree to pass something that won't become law, but full of provisions that could be isolated as 2022 attack fodder? Manchin has been openly talking about delaying or pausing BBB for months, and inflation has only gotten worse. The White House can prattle on about how spending additional trillions will be the real cure for inflation and cost-of-living issues, or whatever, but not many people are going to buy that, I suspect – just as many people will scoff at the suggestion that the supply chain crisis is fueled by, um, unaffordable child care. 'Tis a miracle; all of our problems just happen to be tied to the huge bill they want to pass, even when it's beyond obvious that said bill is either unrelated or actually harmful. I'm waiting on them to argue that the border crisis could also be resolved by their "human infrastructure" spending spree. An ABC News poll recently showed that few Americans believe BBB will benefit them or their families. The terrible USA Today/Suffolk poll showed the same. It's becoming clear that the American people are not clamoring for this monstrosity:
YouGov poll: Biden's 'Build Back Better' plan now opposed by most Americans, 28 percent to 45 percent. Indies have flipped, and Dems are mad that it's getting smaller. https://t.co/bmGpi1Brbp— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) November 11, 2021
I know we highlighted this yesterday, but it bears repeating, to illustrate how nuts the spending proposals are in the midst of soaring deficits, endless debt, and three-decade-high inflation rates:
So that's potentially $3.4 trillion in new spending *before* we get to a $2 trillion "Build Back Better" reconciliation bill.https://t.co/z1sVrrm0sr— John McCormack (@McCormackJohn) November 10, 2021
I'll leave you with this:
Biden said inflation was transitory, but it’s not. He said illegal immigration was seasonal, but it isn’t. He said paying money 2 illegal immigrants was garbage but it’s true. He said US wouldn’t leave Americans behind in Afghanistan but we did. Does he even know what’s going on?— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) November 11, 2021