Let's Go Manchin
Thus far, Democrats have been unwilling to do anything to punish the West Virginia senator—that has to change
Kid gloves off.
I wrote the following yesterday for the Discontents newsletter and it’s done so well I thought it should also be shared with you all.
If you’re looking for largely the same argument but in audio form, please check out the show from last week focusing on progressives leaving the Democratic Party behind—it’s a good episode with a lot of interesting feedback from people on the left who are done with electoral politics.
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West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin’s declaration Sunday that he is a “no” on President Joe Biden’s signature social spending Build Back Better bill has infuriated progressives and liberals alike.
Manchin’s behavior in the Senate over the last year has made him the de facto president, using stalling tactics around any legislation that might increase spending to benefit the public at large. The relentless push from the West Virginia coal baron (read this great Evan Osnos piece from the summer on Manchin’s background) to curtail the liberal parts of Biden’s already conservative agenda has been effective—he’s the most powerful person in Washington.
Thus far, Democrats have been unwilling to do much of anything to punish Manchin or hold him accountable. That may have made a limited amount of sense when he was a key part of a Senate majority that could deliver on the party’s agenda. But now that Manchin’s made clear working to further the stated goals of the party is off the table, it’s time to get on with the business of investigating his daughter Heather Bresch’s involvement in spiking Epi-Pen costs and using her family connections to lobby Congress (here’s a good rundown from The Intercept).
Without the carrot of passing the Biden agenda, withholding the stick of investigating Bresch no longer makes sense. There’s no time like the present to get to the bottom of how she used her father’s position for her own gain.
Democratic Party sycophants argue—for a number of ever-changing reasons—that investigating Bresch (and by extension, Manchin) would be a mistake. A politically motivated investigation would be highly unethical, they say, ignoring the fact that the main reason she’s largely escaped scrutiny is for political reasons. Democratic partisans claim that a targeted investigation would be inappropriate, as if a more widespread approach would work.
You don’t have to take these people seriously. Manchin and his family have only escaped scrutiny because of his political power within the Democratic Party.
Democrats could deal with this problem by enforcing party discipline, but they appear unwilling to use their power. It’s past time they start fighting back.
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