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Tipsheet

Did Manchin and Schumer Successfully Trick McConnell and Senate Republicans?

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

It does look that way.  Go read this basic timeline from Allahpundit, starting with a legislative threat McConnell issued at the end of last month.  That ultimatum appeared to have worked, with Manchin announcing shortly thereafter that he was pulling the plug on negotiations over a zombie, fallback version of 'Build Back Better.'  He indicated was more interested in another bill passing (which Mitch was threatening to hold up), plus with acute inflation and economic uncertainty ahead, he suggested that his appetite for a climate/spending/tax hike package was gone.  Leftists freaked out, again, berating the Senator all over social media, where they do much of their complaining.  But maybe it was a head fake?  Follow the sequence of events of the big reversal:

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USICA was the bill Congress was working on to help make American industry more competitive with China. The ultimatum led to USICA being scrapped — but the guts of it, to jumpstart domestic manufacturing of semiconductors, was rolled into a new bill called CHIPS. Meanwhile, McConnell’s threat seemed to have its desired effect on Manchin. On July 13, he declared the reconciliation bill to be a clear and present threat to the economy due to its inflation risk and walked away from BBB, infuriating liberals. All Manchin would agree to was a narrow deal to reduce prescription drug prices, with none of the climate-change measures that liberals wanted. McConnell had won! That left the Senate GOP free to support the CHIPS Act. Which 14 of its members did this morning, when the bill finally passed the Senate...And lo and behold, a scant four hours later, Joe Manchin has suddenly changed his mind and decided that he’s okay with a bigger reconciliation bill after all. It sure looks like Manchin and Schumer faked out the GOP to get around McConnell’s ultimatum so that they could pass CHIPS with Republican help, overcoming a potential filibuster, and then pass BBB after all.

Some conservatives were unhappy with the CHIPS bill for various reasons, but it's an anti-CCP counter-measure, so a number of Republicans were willing to go along with it -- enough, in fact, to break a potential filibuster and secure final passage. Just a few hourlater, which isn't exactly subtle, Manchin and Schumer declared that they had a deal on the other plan after all.  BBB-lite was dead, killed by Manchin...until he got what he wanted from Republicans on CHIPS, at which point he promptly resurrected BBB-lite, almost as if that was the scheme he'd been plotting for weeks.  Manchin is insisting that this isn't BBB, and he's right.  Whatever he's cooked up with Chuck, it's much less ambitious than the monstrosity House Democrats passed, and Biden wanted to sign.  But it's still a large tax-and-spend bill, dressed up as a "deficit reduction," and "anti-inflation" measure:

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Again, it's much less horrible than what could have been (read this feed for some additional details and color), but it's still nothing to sneeze at.  Yes, Manchin secured a few concessions on fossil fuels, but there's plenty of "climate" "investments" in there, too.  And while some of the tax provisions are perhaps at least partially fanciful (more IRS enforcement is always a bit suspicious), those are some major tax increases, too.  Let me say this: If this thing passes, despite it being a shell of the atrocious BBB behemoth, it is absolutely wild that Democrats are actually going to spend hundreds of billions of new dollars in the middle of rampant inflation -- while also raising taxes (including on businesses) right as the US economy is staring down the barrel of an active or looming recession.  It's nuts.  But they've got the power for now, so they're steaming ahead.  Incidentally, I do not believe for a second that the "deficit reduction" Manchin is talking about will actually materialize from this bill.  Spending and taxes will go up, and so will the debt.  It's how DC works.

All told, this is what America gets when it votes for Democrats to control everything.  Manchin is ultimately a Democrat for a reason, and he doesn't do things like this, or vote for all of Biden's judges, by accident.  He seems to enjoy infuriating his party's base, and now the other side of the aisle is getting to experience the thrill of Manchin betrayal.  I will say that pissing off Republicans, and potentially making an enemy of McConnell, just before the GOP wins back at least one chamber of Congress, is an interesting choice.  But let's be serious: McConnell, even if he's livid right now, won't stay mad for very long.  Manchin's vote will likely be important for the foreseeable future, and Mitch is a strategic thinker who plays a long game.  But maybe, just maybe, he'll exact some revenge at an appropriate time and place.

As AP's piece runs through, there still are a few potential stumbling blocks to all of this, so it could fully or partially blow up.  Again.  But I'd bet that the various Democratic factions make their peace with what is possible here and end up voting for whatever gets put in front of them.  They're already worried about getting clobbered in November, and handing their base another big empty L before their unified power expires seems unfathomable.  Also, when push comes to shove, Democrats rarely miss an opportunity to grow the government, tax, and spend.  Aside from fighting for abortion-on-demand up to the moment of birth, that trifecta essentially represents the top reasons why the party exists.  I doubt they'll pass up this opportunity.  It could implode, but I'd guess they'll salvage something and pass it.  We'll know soon enough.  The clock is ticking.  I'll leave you with McConnell previewing his response to this development (it seems he wasn't totally BBB-lite this was truly buried) earlier in the week:

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