Manchin Gets Smoked By ‘Washington Post’ For Blocking Progress

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In a new article for The Washington Post, columnist James Downie lays out some of the damaging political calculus behind the recent behavior of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who seems just about perpetually determined to throw a stick in the wheel of Democratic progress. Recently, Manchin has expressed opposition to a $3.5 trillion spending bill pushed by Democratic leaders, which would include significant quantities of federal financial support for initiatives falling under a heading that’s been called “human infrastructure.” The money would boost child care, elder care, and the like. As Downie put it, Manchin’s opposition to the proposal comes across as rooted in flat-out “selfishness.”

As Downie phrased it, referring to the $3.5 trillion spending bill and the comparatively smaller $1 trillion infrastructure bill (which Manchin supported):

‘So what, then, really distinguishes the two bills for Manchin? The answer seems to lie in an answer he gave on ABC, when asked whether neither bill may end up passing. “If you don’t need bridges fixed or roads fixed in your state, I do in West Virginia,” he replied. “I need Internet in West Virginia. I got water and sewage problems. I have got all the problems that we have addressed in the bipartisan infrastructure bill.” I, I, I. This isn’t unusual phrasing for Manchin… The decisive factor for Manchin isn’t the debt, the pandemic or the inflation rate. It’s that one bill has what he wants, and the other doesn’t.’

Downie also noted how Manchin’s longtime earnings from a coal brokerage company he founded called Enersystems have been poised to cloud his judgment. Troublingly, the operations of that business “have relied on mines and refuse piles cited for dozens of Mine Safety and Health Agency violations, multiple deaths, and wastewater discharging that has poisoned tributaries feeding into the Monongahela River, as hundreds of thousands of tons of carcinogenic coal ash are dumped across Marion County,” The Intercept recently explained. Downie noted that Manchin would “no doubt… bristle at the suggestion that his opposition to the reconciliation bill and its climate provisions would have anything to do with their impact on his personal wealth,” but “the theme remains the same: Manchin gets his, while everyone else can fend for themselves.”

So what’s to be done about it? During an appearance over the weekend on MSNBC’s The Sunday Show, Stephen Smith — a co-chair of the activism organization WV Can’t Wait — discussed a plan of action. As he explained it, discussing Manchin and West Virginia’s other representatives in Congress:

‘The only language they understand is power, and so the only hope we have on the ground of persuading these establishment politicians is to threaten to replace them. And so, that’s what we’re doing… With every candidate we recruit, every local leader and organizer we train, that threat grows. And we can’t do it alone.’

Watch below: