‘I Just Can’t’: Joe Manchin Kills Build Back Better

“If I can’t go home and explain it to the people of West Virginia, I can’t vote for it. And I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation,” Joe Manchin said Sunday.

“I just can’t,” he added, feigning disappointment. “I’ve tried everything humanly possible. I can’t get there.”

And just like that, Build Back Better was dead. Or at least comatose. Democratic infighting had already pushed passage of the legislation into 2022. Now, it seems as if Manchin will exercise the effective veto he holds over his own party’s agenda to kill Biden’s signature social spending plan.

If the bill does die with Manchin, it’ll be a grievous blow to the administration. Biden has, at various intervals, tied the success of his presidency to the passage of the legislation.

It should be noted that lawmakers were already discussing the possibility of breaking the plan up into separate bills in order to piece it together and salvage key initiatives. Those discussions will take on a new sense of urgency in the event Manchin doesn’t backtrack.

Manchin has, of course, spent months chipping away at the social spending plan. The legislation was whittled down and otherwise gutted, until “transformational” became a misnomer as a description of the plan’s scope.

On Sunday, Manchin cited inflation, the national debt and, oddly, Omicron, in explaining his opposition (see the full clip below). “It’s not transitory, it’s real,” he said, of rising prices.


It was difficult to conceptualize of Manchin’s decision to break the news on Fox as anything other than a slap in the face to the Biden administration, even if it seemed somehow fitting given Manchin’s unofficial “I’ve never been a liberal” motto.

The lack of decorum was astounding. Manchin delivered the death blow to the most progressive piece of legislation seen on Capitol Hill in generations on a network which is currently being sued for defamation in connection with its coverage of an election won by the president whose legacy Manchin is in the process of undermining. And the two men are both moderates from the same party. Biden was on board with a top line figure for Build Back Better that was just one-fourth of the pie-in-the-sky figure floated initially by Bernie Sanders.

Speaking of Sanders, he called Manchin a coward on Sunday. “We’ve been dealing with Mr. Manchin for month after month after month. But if he doesn’t have the courage to do the right thing for the working families of West Virginia and America, let him vote no in front of the whole world,” Sanders told CNN.

“We cut childhood poverty by over 40%. Manchin doesn’t want to do that?”, Sanders wondered. “Tell that to the struggling families of West Virginia.”

According to the Census Bureau, the median household income in West Virginia is $46,711 and the poverty rate is near 16%. Nationally, those figures are $67,521 and 11.4%, respectively.

The MSRP for Manchin’s Maserati Levante is $81,200. For the base model. The Trofeo variant will run you $155,000.

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10 thoughts on “‘I Just Can’t’: Joe Manchin Kills Build Back Better

  1. The path forward for Democrats is clear: break BBB into its constituent parts and start advancing the individual legislative pieces after the new year. Has the added benefit of putting Manchin, Sinema, and all Republicans on the record as against an extension of the child tax credit, climate change action, voting rights protections, higher marginal tax rates for the wealthy, etc.

    1. That seem sensible. West VA is possibly the reddest state in the country with just 29% voting for Biden in last election. Reality has hit–we have gone from the idea that Biden was LBJ or FDR to the reality of what it means to govern with a 50-50 Senate. It seems as if you broke of BBB into its parts you could put meaningful pressure on GOP Senators facing election challenges if for example they were forced to vote against the Child Tax Credit. They might cave on this issue depending on their reading of the political/populist tea leaves.

    2. That really doesn’t work

      Maybe in a more rational time forcing politicians to take stands on individual issues mattered, but the electorate just doesn’t care any more

      Manchin has to pretend to be a Republican or a DINO regardless of his personal philosophy

  2. I had no idea Joe Manchin drove a freakin’ Maserati. How the hell come the rest of the country doesn’t know it? He’s driving a car that costs about twice as much as the median income in the state he allegedly represents. Like Biden can’t start calling him “Maserati Joe” every time he gets in front of a microphone? Trump woulda done it in a heartbeat.

  3. The problem isn’t Joe Manchin per se. It’s the concept of the US Senate. A very small minority can hijack any legislation of a vast majority. Bypass it. Biden just says something like the “US House, a representative body of the people of the United States has passed this legislation and I have signed it. It is now law and I have instructed the US Treasury to disburse the money appropriately. Since the senator from West Virginia despises it so much, none of this money will go to that state.”

    And for those who think this is a Rubicon that “we” can’t cross, I’d simply state the Trump Presidency and the Senate itself (on the death of Scalia and lack of a nomination) already crossed it.

  4. “the median household income in West Virginia is $46,711 and the poverty rate is near 16%. Nationally, those figures are $67,521 and 11.4%, respectively.” Some perspective on these numbers, the median household income is 50th, the poverty rate is in the top five (or four). Yet Mr. does 185 can’t explain the legislation to his people, small wonder.

  5. Maseratis aren’t built in W Va, but Toyota makes gasoline engines and transmissions there, and they announced last month, at an event Manchin attended, that they would sink another $240m into their W Va plant to expand it. The company, however, is opposed to a $4500 tax credit that would go to purchasers of EVs made in the US, a key part of BBB, though only if those vehicles are made by union labor. Toyota hates the proposal because they don’t have any EV offerings and they don’t have any union workers. Tesla hates it too, but they’re not in W Va and they don’t own Joe Manchin. Toyota, it seems, holds the senator’s leash. And to keep his masters happy, Manchin has accepted the chump change they’re offering and in return shot down legislation that would have had massive benefits for this country. Merry Christmas America!

  6. Fiddle, foddle, foil and fiddle, cure this fuddled individual
    Whirl, ye waters and unwind this tangled, medieval mind
    Breath of bee and bluebird’s wing, make his scowling spirits sing
    Balm of briar, sandlewood, season him with brotherhood
    Magic vapors, make this person a better person, not a worse ‘un.’

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