Is Joe Manchin going to be the one that declines to save society as we know it?
By Joseph Amir
Joe Manchin is a name that burns hot on the lips of many progressives, thanks to his refusal to back Democratic spending bills and Joe Biden’s agenda during a legislative opportunity for the party of social welfare. With the New Yorker’s Andy Borowitz satirizing him as “employee of the month” for the Republican Party, Joe Manchin clearly has a long way to go to redeem himself to many progressives. But does he care?
Courtesy of his increased public profile as a stodgy, obstinate man with a penchant for throwing gum in the works of the legislative process, people have begun dredging up his campaign contribution records and have found that he has deep corporate ties that create a potential conflict of interest regarding his sabotage of Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan. Because of the budget reconciliation process and the ways the Democrats are trying to pass their plan, they need every single vote in the Senate for a plan to be passed, which includes Manchin. His being the only one withholding his vote (along with Sinema) means that he can effectively dictate terms, and he is extremely excited to do so.
He is demanding cuts to paid family leave, the clean electricity program, as well as Medicare expansions. But an interesting thing about this is, as reported by the New Yorker, he is the senator that has received the most donations from the coal, gas, and oil industries that currently sit in the Senate.
Additionally, he was an early member of the organization ALEC, which some of you may remember from old Jon Stewart pieces. ALEC is an organization that brings the industry together with lawmakers to craft policy, or as some late-night hosts put it, essentially lets industry draft a bill most amenable to them and then lets lawmakers put their signature on it. This practice became so egregious that some bills submitted didn't even have the ALEC markings taken off of them. Manchin eventually sat on ALEC’s board of directors prior to being elected the governor of West Virginia but remained in the pocket of corporate interests.
This proves his unreliability to progressive causes, and with not much time left on the clock and storms getting more intense every year, our generation really does not have time to wait for Manchin, an old, rich white man, to become “comfortable” with the amount of money that Congress earmarks for saving our society from future collapse.
The answer to my previous rhetorical question is “no.” No, he does not appear to care about this. With a net worth in the tens of millions of dollars, a boat that he resides in, and only a few decades left of life (Manchin is 74), there is not much reason for him to care. As is the case with people that don’t care, he has what he wants in life and there is not much reason for him to be concerned with anything but retirement on his savings.
This man, Joe Manchin, is now in the unique position of being able to dictate terms to Joe Biden on what would have been the cornerstone of his first term as President. Opposing a $15 minimum wage even as he collects millions from donations and favors corporate interests, he is clearly not interested in the welfare of the American People, and it is a shame that the Democrats are now fully at his mercy to create a plan that would help citizens instead of corporations.
Melanie Moyer '22,