Joe Manchin is back.
The West Virginia Senator is making grave threats. He went to three of the major Sunday shows to explain why he wanted a “break” from the $ 3.5 trillion reconciliation package, which contains the Democrats’ core agenda on childcare, geriatric care and climate protection, though he won’t fully come back to that say what is reprehensible about it. He told CNN’s Dana Bash on Sunday that he could be fine with something around $ 1.5 trillion but offered no ideas about what he would do to get there.
In July he said he was “very, very disturbed“About his climate change proposals, which he claims would (they wouldn’t) eliminate fossil fuels. On Sunday he explicitly criticized a plan to offer subsidies to utilities switching to clean energy sources as unnecessary because “the transition is happening” (it is not happening, or at least not fast enough).
Most political analysts describe Manchin as a folk chap who lives on a houseboat called “Almost Heaven” (as in John Denver’s ode to his home state “Country Roads”) entertaining guests and just trying to represent the conservative working class voter all in one red condition. In an otherwise excellent profile, The New Yorker‘s Evan Osnos claimed that “Manchin’s power is forcing Democrats to broaden their focus on systemic injustices to include places like West Virginia, where inferior schools, high levels of poverty and suspicion of government fueled radical conservatism.”
Unless there’s a lot in the Atonement Act that would help West Virginia in particular, which ranks first in opioid addiction, second in poverty, 45th in funding for education, and 50th in infrastructure. And while most Democrats refrain from directly criticizing Manchin for its central role in an evenly divided Senate, that is beginning to change. Lately, some have been openly claiming the coal tycoon’s allegiance is with his corporate donors, not the residents of West Virginia. And Manchin doesn’t like that.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez attacked him last week. “Manchin has weekly meetings with Exxon and is one of many senators who give lobbyists their pen to write so-called ‘non-partisan’ fossil fuel bills,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “It kills people. Our people. At least 12 last night. Sick of this ‘bipartisan’ corruption masquerading as clear-eyed moderation. “