I wrote earlier in the week about the yawning chasm between what Joe Manchin says he is doing, and what Joe Manchin is actually doing. Yesterday on Twitter, Joe Biden’s chief of staff, Ron Klain, highlighted that chasm, by tweeting that:
It's twice as big, in real dollars, as the New Deal was. This can be the Congress that goes from 12 years of universal education to 14 years; the makes the largest investment in fighting climate change ever; that cuts what families pay for child care in half. https://t.co/hpK95CYcxD
— Ronald Klain (@WHCOS) October 28, 2021
There is simply no way of squaring this description of the bill with what Joe Manchin has said he’s prepared to accept. As the Washington Post‘s Paul Kane has noted, one of Manchin’s red lines is “additional handouts or transfer payments” and new programs that “will never go away” — by which, Kane explains, Manchin means “the biggest liberal goals in the legislation, such as universal pre-K.” Manchin has gone on the record that he is opposed to “spending trillions more on new and expanded government programs, when we can’t even pay for the essential social programs, like Social Security and Medicare.” Indeed, he has described doing so as “the definition of fiscal insanity.” If he is serious about this, then he absolutely has to be opposed to a bill that is, per Klain, “twice as big, in real dollars, as the New Deal was,” that “goes from 12 years of universal education to 14 years,” that “cuts what families pay for child care in half,” and that blows past Manchin’s own (absurd) “topline” of $1.5 trillion.
Talking to reporters recently, Manchin said, defiantly, “I’ve never been a liberal in any way, shape or form.” This is a nice soundbite, and it presumably plays well in West Virginia, but if it is to mean anything concrete, then Manchin will have to show it by cutting the “additional handouts,” “transfer payments,” and programs that “never go away” that he insists he opposes. As I write, Ron Klain is running around Washington insisting that the president’s framework represents permanent transformational change that is larger in scale than what FDR achieved during the Great Depression. If, after all he has said, Joe Manchin happily signs onto it, he will have shown himself to be a fraud.