Other Democratic Senators Not Buying Manchin’s Inflation Swoon

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 02: Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) rides with staff in an elevator (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)
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Democrats have two inflation problems on their hands: a real one, and an imaginary one. 

The real one concerns the current inflationary spike that experts are still trying to game out in terms of cause and longevity. And then there’s the imaginary one, where Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) uses inflation as pretext to slow down or kill the reconciliation bill despite broad expert consensus that the package will not increase the inflation rate.

The West Virginia senator sent antennas up when he tweeted last week that inflation is “getting worse,” giving political observers flashbacks to his September op-ed where he named inflation as a key reason that he opposed a reconciliation bill of $3.5 trillion. 

The White House and Democratic congressional leadership have launched a preemptive messaging campaign, arguing that not only will the reconciliation bill not worsen inflation, but that it’ll actually help long term by expanding the economy’s capacity. 

Democratic senators who spoke with TPM are similarly dismissive of the Manchin handwringing, which Republicans are opportunistically latching onto. 

“Considering that Build Back Better is paid for — that’s our intention — I don’t know how that’s supposed to impact inflation,” Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) told TPM. “I wish people would figure out what the actual causal things are.” 

A barrage of experts have explained in recent days that because the reconciliation package is paid for and pays out slowly, over 10 years, it won’t pose an inflationary threat the way a sudden burst of stimulus money might. That has assuaged the worry of many Democrats not named Manchin. 

“There are colleagues that share these concerns, but I think they have largely been allayed,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) told TPM.

“I think that is the effort Republicans are making — but it’s a false linkage,” Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) told TPM of attempts to paint reconciliation as an inflationary threat. “If anything, passing the bill is going to help us fight inflation by getting people back into the workplace.” 

While the Biden administration tries to beat back the current inflation spike, Manchin’s colleagues and observers alike wait to see if he’ll conflate the real problem with one of his own invention. 

“We would be wise not to be dismissive of a problem that people are experiencing,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) told TPM. “But we would be idiots to not pass legislation that would actually ease the supply chain, build a stronger labor market and alleviate the problem itself.” 

“Pretending that every bill we pass is causing inflation is just a talking point and has no relationship to reality,” he added.

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Notable Replies

  1. Avatar for kerf kerf says:

    This was always going to be the excuse.

  2. Waiting for Manchin to run out of reasons to oppose BBB. He’s well on his way to “I can’t vote for BBB, I have to wash my hair tonight.” Really hard not to conclude that he’s just not gonna vote for it. I hope I’m wrong about that.

  3. Democrats should raise some campaign money by selling “Fuck All the Way Off, Manchin” hats.

  4. Avatar for mymy mymy says:

    Apparently there is a Phillips curve: the more people employed the higher prices rise. So if you want to bring inflation down fire a lot of people…

    Both the NYT and WaPo are reporting that consumers are actually blasé about rising prices, as they now have much more money to spend on things: sales are up 1.7% in October.

    This is phony hysterical hype.

  5. The bad blood between progressive and moderate Democrats if moderates block the second infrastructure bill will be very serious…progressives will no longer trust the moderates, and will say that very clearly. The two sides have to figure out how to get along though, because the Democratic party is composed of many factions and all have to be included in policy decisions; moderates will be violating this if they take their bill and don’t pass the more progressive one. Both sides also need to work this out to avoid all out war in the 2022 primary that gives Republicans even more chance at taking over Congress and state governments, that would be even worse for the nation.

    The current impasse is on the moderates, who have been jerking everyone’s chain instead of being forthright and getting the job done. They really need to stop playing games, it’s endangering the party and the nation.

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