Jonathan Chait became an unlikely member of the burn-it-all-down pundit caucus when the tiny minority of obstructionist Democrats, most prominently Senators Manchin and Sinema, seemed determined to follow through on their bad-faith “my way or the highway” strategy to defeat the Democratic Party’s agenda.
Now Chait sees “glimmers of hope” in Manchin’s latest utterances, and maybe he’s right. An excerpt from a column published earlier today:
The biggest problem Democrats face is financing the [BBB] program, given that every dollar Democrats can raise, either through higher taxes on the wealthy or reduced spending on prescription drugs, has a team of lobbyists pleading its case. Manchin laid out a practical way through: repeal of the high-end portion of the Trump tax cuts to pay for it. “I want to do a tax overhaul,” he said. “One thing you understand that all Democrats agreed on, there’s not a lot of things we all agree on, is that the 2017 tax cuts are unfair and weighted toward the high end. Let’s fix that.”
I’d quibble with Manchin’s self-serving “there’s not a lot of things” Democrats agree on framing since upwards of 95% of Democrats in Congress, overwhelming majorities of voters and the POTUS agree with the policy agenda that Biden and the Democrats ran on and got elected to implement. The obstructionists are the flies in the ointment.
But I take Chait’s point, which is that Manchin and the other flies in the ointment are on record opposing Trump’s plutocrat-friendly tax cuts, so maybe they could be persuaded to view funds generated from a repeal as revenue that could then be spent to improve regular people’s lives. Chait also notes that Manchin made mildly favorable mouth-noises about the child tax credit, so that could be a spending peg Himself would countenance. Dog knows people could use the help.
Of course, no one knows how this scheme would fare when subjected to Sinema’s inscrutable “Is it mavericky? YES/NO” decision tree. And unless there’s serious spending to address the climate crisis in the reconciliation package, lots of Democrats will decline to support the infrastructure deal in exchange for obstructionist support on reconciliation. And they’ll be right to do so, in my opinion.
Still, it’s the start of a potential framework to reach a deal that was allegedly mostly hashed out months ago. Open thread.