The Sausage Making: White House Tries To Knock Down Inflation Fearmongering

BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 10: U.S. President Joe Biden (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
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November 12, 2021 5:52 p.m.

After the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that prices rose in October and are currently hovering at notable heights, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and a jolly band of Republicans glommed on to the news, proclaiming with certainty that the inflationary spike is here to stay.

In reality, there are multiple theories about what’s causing the spike and how long it’ll last. But the bigger immediate concern for Democrats is that Manchin will use inflation as an excuse to derail the reconciliation package — even though, as economists told TPM, that is simply not something the reconciliation package would do.

The White House has been trying to preempt his possible objections by insisting that the spike is temporary, caused by a combination of changed consumer spending during the pandemic and a snarled and overburdened supply chain. 

There is some uncertainty here: the nature of the spike, and whether we can get the COVID-19 virus tamped down enough to fix the problems. But there is virtually no uncertainty around whether the reconciliation package will cause inflation — it won’t. Despite what Manchin, or credulous reporting, suggests. 

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On The Calendar 

  • President Joe Biden is set to sign the bipartisan infrastructure bill on Monday at a big ceremony. It’s not clear how many Republicans will attend — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) RSVP’d no.
  • Remember when we were trying to game out what leverage points Democrats not named Manchin or Sinema had left? Biden’s signature was one of them, but he is clearly not going to use it as a reconciliation cudgel. 
  • The House is slated to vote on its version of the reconciliation bill next week.

Manchinema Corner

  • Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) sidles up to a rebrand in a rare interview with her hometown paper. “That wouldn’t have been possible if I didn’t have those deep, trusting relationships with members of my own party,” she said of tax compromises she reached with the likes of Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT). 
  • Sinema is one of very, very few lawmakers who won’t answer hallway questions at the Capitol, severely limiting reporter access. In this piece, she seems to be trying to reframe herself as a middle-of-the-road, compromise type. Her bosom buddy Democratic lawmakers, though, are unlikely to forget the obstacles she’s thrown up to the reconciliation bill — especially the ones that protect extremely wealthy Americans from tax hikes.
  • Manchin, meanwhile, did an interview with Talkline, a radio show on West Virginia’s MetroNews. 
  • During the interview, he said he’ll decide on running again in 2024 after the 2022 midterms.
  • He also blamed the bipartisan infrastructure plan not being fully paid for on the White House not letting him put a fee on mileage for electric cars and Republicans refusing to raise the corporate tax rate. 
  • He added that he can’t support expanded Medicare benefits out of a fear that it’ll drive the program to insolvency.
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