The inflation crisis in America continues. Fuel is still higher than it has ever been. Shortages of critical necessities and the supply chain crisis persist. In general, the economy remains in shambles – yet still the Democrats strive to enact President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda. With sky-high gas prices, soaring inflation, and dwindling supplies, there has been little public talk of the progressive package. While the nation’s economic woes may have moved Build Back Better to the back burner for a time, however, leading Democrats are still trying to cook up a deal behind closed doors. And make no mistake: The time will come – likely soon – when they return that slowly simmering subject to high heat in the national debate.
Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) was lambasted across the media for threatening the climate, the economy, and – worst of all – the president’s legislative agenda when he killed Build Back Better in December 2021. He made it clear to the other Democrats in the Senate and Biden that spending trillions more on social programs despite funding shortages and rising inflation would be the definition of fiscal insanity. And though he did engage in various discussions after, he stuck to his guns.
A look at the nation today shows the wisdom of the West Virginian’s words – and even the left-wing media are beginning to realize it. “My God, I just wonder what would have happened if progressives would’ve gotten their six-trillion-dollar wish earlier this year,” MSNBC host Joe Scarborough said about a week ago on Morning Joe. Steven Rattner, a former Treasury Department official in the Obama administration, agreed, looking back. “In an ironic way you almost have to thank Joe Manchin for blocking that because $6.5 trillion of spending in this economy would make these numbers look small,” he said to Scarborough. “I wouldn’t even say ironically thank Joe Manchin, you can just thank Joe Manchin if you’re glad that interest rates aren’t even higher,” the host responded.
But after the follow-up bipartisan talks between the West Virginia senator and the GOP fell apart – and most of Washington and the media focusing on gun control – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Manchin have been working on a tax-and-spend package the Democrats can vote on as soon as July or August. It won’t be the progressive wish list we saw before, and it probably won’t quite approach even the $1.75 trillion package Manchin rejected in December. But – if it doesn’t fall apart again – it will be something the Democrats can pass by reconciliation, meaning no Republican support is needed.
Schumer has kept most of the other Democrats – and the media, of course – largely out of the loop in hopes of keeping the discussions away from the public eye, but there does seem to be progress. “I’m spending a significant amount of time every day on it,” Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) told reporters. Manchin and Schumer are reportedly working on specific details, going over items line by line, to build an entirely new agreement.
Topics covered so far seem to be increased taxes for high earners, more spending on energy – presumably of the green sort – and prescription-drug pricing reform, which, based on Biden’s recent statements, appears to include a Medicare change and a cap to the cost of insulin.
With Americans now choking on what Biden’s progressive policies have served up thus far, there’s likely little to no public appetite for more of what Liberty Nation’s Andrew Moran calls Bidenomics – and Manchin seems unlikely to sign on to anything he thinks will exacerbate these problems. Luckily for the president and his party, the media have taken the gun violence issue and run with it, providing at least a little spice to cover up the foul taste left behind by news of higher energy costs and infant formula shortages.
But the midterms approach, and Democrats need something they can spin as a win. So long as talks don’t fall through this time, you should expect to see social spending back on the menu before the August break. Just how much Build Back Better meat is left on the bones, of course, remains to be seen – but the base recipe appears to be the same.