I can’t tell whether I’m more miffed at Manchin and Sinema for cutting the reconciliation outline in half or forcing this months long delay and death by a thousand cuts which in addition to being incredibly annoying has greatly damaged Democrats’ and the White House’s political standing. And in case you’re putting the politics up against the policy and finding the former wanting – get real, the politics is what makes it possible to sustain the policy over time. In any case, it’s still not clear to me in what sense this is even a deal or a framework since neither side (“Manchin/Sinema” and “EveryoneElse”) appears to have agreed to it. This is more like what the President probably should have done a while ago which is to say: this is the deal, this is my plan, this is what I want. Now everyone get on board and support it.
Two thoughts on this.
First, if this is more or less the final deal it’s just incredibly stupid to compare it to the outline from three or four months ago. That is both understandable in human terms and mind-bogglingly self-defeating, self-sabotaging. On its own terms it’s a huge step forward on numerous key fronts. This is what was possible with 50 Senate votes. It’s a big f’ing deal as Biden once said. And if you’re going to try to sell it as such to the public the first step is to believe it. And that shouldn’t be that difficult because it’s true.
Second, it seems like congressional Democrats are going to have to take some level of leap of faith on this. At least this morning Biden told Reps he didn’t have guarantees from the ‘moderates’ they’d vote for this. He seems to be saying, you’re going to need to trust me because we have to move this forward. The gallows humor version of this is that it’s not clear what there is not to trust since this is pretty much what Manchin was demanding from the start. Why wouldn’t they support? It’s what they demanded.
It’s a bitter pill to have to take anything on faith or assurances at this point. Not as a matter of principle but just because these two have played so fast and loose for so many months. Manchin was basically always going to be this guy. He’s following the politics of his state and also his identity as a rich guy Meet the Press moderate. Sinema played a bait and switch game with her constituents and national Democrats that is really all about her ambition and desire for self-advancement. But for all my Sinema bile it really does seem to have been Manchin as the hold up on most fronts at the end rather than her.
But the reality is that the Democrats need those two votes and they have them. And I think – just speaking for myself as what I would do if I had a say – that that leap is going to have to be made.
Late Update: I still broadly agree with my point here. It’s time for a leap. Mainly because there’s just no more time. But Manchin and Sinema in their statements this morning are not lifting a finger to help this along. They could send a good faith signal without making any clear promises. But they’re not.