Manchin’s Choice on Build Back Better: Mine Workers or Mine Owners – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — For years, burly men in camouflage hunting jackets have been a constant presence in the Capitol Hill office of Senator Joe Manchin III, their United Mine Workers logos giving away their mission: to lobby not only for the interests of coal, but also on more personal matters such as pensions, health care and funding to address black lung disease.

So when the miners’ union and the West Virginia A.F.L.-C.I.O. came out last month with statements pleading for passage of President Biden’s Build Back Better Act — just hours after Mr. Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia, said he was a “no” — the Capitol took notice.”

David Axelrod | It’s Not Over for Joe Biden – The New York Times

You can’t always get what you want, so get what you can:

In 2010, some voices on the left vigorously argued that an A.C.A. without a government-run option to compete with private insurers was not worth passing. Yet some Senate Democrats resisted the public option, so Mr. Obama passed the law he could, convinced it would still do enormous good.

For months, Mr. Biden has been trying to balance the expansive social and climate agendas of progressives with the reticence of Mr. Manchin, Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and other moderate Democrats.

Mr. Biden and congressional leaders tried to thread the needle by halving the size of his Build Back Better proposal while including pieces of as many of his original plans as possible, funded in shorter increments. The theory was that the popularity of these programs would compel future Congresses to continue them.” . . .

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
I agree with David Axelrod. I am sorry that the climate mitigation part is not mentioned as savable, and I’m curious. Is it still on the table? Manchin has said he would support it in a smaller bill, while his critics say he is lying, because of his steadfast support of coal, oil and gas interests, millionaires and billionaires. Can someone enlighten me on this question?

Opinion | Joe Manchin Just Did Democrats a Favor on Build Back Better – The New York Times

Mr. Ritz is the director of the Progressive Policy Institute’s Center for Funding America’s Future, which released a framework for paring down the Build Back Better plan in October.

“Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia seemingly dealt a terrible setback to President Biden’s agenda on Sunday, when he told Bret Baier of Fox News that he could not support the version of the Build Back Better Act passed by the House last month. Although Democrats were rightfully frustrated by the way in which Mr. Manchin expressed his concerns, he was raising a valid critique: This bill was deeply flawed, and the “compromises” his colleagues made did nothing to address the concerns he has been consistently raising since this summer.

Other Democrats may not realize it, but Mr. Manchin may well have given them a gift. They should’ve gone back to the drawing board months ago, when it first became clear that their budgetary gimmickry was turning the bill into a confusing mess. Now, they will have to — and if they revise the bill to cut the number of programs they propose while making the ones they do propose permanent and easier for Americans to navigate, it could deliver Democrats both lasting policy change and the political victory they so desperately need.

Democrats had been trimming the bill for months in an effort to meet Mr. Manchin’s demand that it cost less than $2 trillion over the next decade. But rather than focusing on a few top priorities, they wedged almost every major social program Mr. Biden had proposed into the bill and relied on arbitrary expiration dates to make it seem less expensive. As a result, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, these programs would cost more than $4.7 trillion if made permanent, as every supporter of the bill clearly intends them to be.

This structure sets Democrats up for failure. Extending these programs without adding to the national debt would likely require raising taxes by an additional $3 trillion over the next decade, which would be extremely difficult to do, particularly after Democrats incorporate all of the tax increases they could get consensus for into the Build Back Better Act. If Democrats cannot agree on how to continue paying for their major social programs, the only alternative — besides breaking their promise not to add to the deficit — would be to allow those programs to expire after a few short years.”

“. . . In October, my organization, the Progressive Policy Institute, published a blueprint for such a focused package that prioritized expanding the Child Tax Credit, making preschool universally available, strengthening the Affordable Care Act and combating climate change. That approach now has renewed interest from key Democrats on Capitol Hill.”

David Lindsay: Excellent column, thank you

Paul Krugman | What We Lose if We Don’t Build Back Better – The New York Times

“I’ll leave the savvy political analysis to others. I don’t know why Senator Joe Manchin apparently decided to go back on an explicit promise he made to President Biden. Naïvely, I thought that even in this era of norm-breaking, honoring a deal you’ve just made would be one of the last norms to go, since a reputation for keeping your word once given is useful even to highly cynical politicians. I also don’t know what, if anything, can be saved from the Build Back Better framework.

What I do know is that there will be huge human and, yes, economic costs if Biden’s moderate but crucial spending plans fall by the wayside.

Failure to enact a decent social agenda would condemn millions of American children to poor health and low earnings in adulthood — because that’s what growing up in poverty does. It would condemn millions more to inadequate medical care and financial ruin if they got ill, because that’s what happens when people lack adequate health insurance. It would condemn hundreds of thousands, maybe more, to unnecessary illness and premature death from air pollution, even aside from the intensified risk of climate catastrophe.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
The Democrats should drop Build Back Better, and do the parts separately, starting with the climate change mitigation pieces. They should be able to get some Republican votes on climate change, and perhaps some of the others as well.
David blogs at