Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia has just put out a statement that serves as a sequel to his recent Wall Street Journal piece. “While I am hopeful that common ground can be found that would result in another historic investment in our nation,” Manchin notes, “I cannot — and will not — support trillions in spending or an all or nothing approach that ignores the brutal fiscal reality our nation faces.”
As it should be, that “brutal fiscal reality” is clearly weighing on Manchin:
Every Member of Congress has a solemn duty to vote for what they believe is best for the country and the American people, not their party. Respectfully, as I have said for months, I can’t support $3.5 trillion more in spending when we have already spent $5.4 trillion since last March. At some point, all of us, regardless of party, must ask the simple question — how much is enough?”
In particular, Manchin points to our unsustainable entitlements, and to the risk of inflation:
What I have made clear to the President and Democratic leaders is that spending trillions more on new and expanded government programs, when we can’t even pay for the essential programs, like Social Security and Medicare, is the definition of fiscal insanity. Suggesting that spending trillions more will not have an impact on inflation ignores the everyday reality that America’s families continue to pay an unavoidable inflation tax. Proposing a historical expansion of social programs while ignoring the fact that we are not in a recession and that millions of jobs remain open will only feed a dysfunction that could weaken our economic recovery.
What does Manchin want to do? He wants to ensure that:
any expansion of social programs must be targeted to those in need, not expanded beyond what is fiscally possible.
And he believes that:
our tax code should be reformed to fix the flaws of the 2017 tax bill
Unlike many of his colleagues, however, he thinks that:
the amount we spend now must be balanced with what we need and can afford — not designed to reengineer the social and economic fabric of this nation or vengefully tax for the sake of wishful spending.
Manchin finishes with a warning:
If there is one final lesson that will continue to guide me in this difficult debate ahead it is this: America is a great nation but great nations throughout history have been weakened by careless spending and bad policies. Now, more than ever, we must work together to avoid these fatal mistakes so that we may fulfill our greatest responsibility as elected leaders and on a better America to the next generation.
Manchin is correct. Let’s hope that, when it comes to it, he sees fit to follow his own advice — which, given present circumstances, would require killing the bill completely.