With Friends Like These, Who Needs Enemies?
On Wednesday, 17 Republicans, looking for home-state handouts, helped Democrats pass a $280 billion subsidy blowout for the semiconductor industry. Kimberley Strassel in the WSJ calls it an “embarrassing stew of accountability – free corporate welfare and government spending.”
This is the priority Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in June vowed to hold hostage so long as Democrats still had the Biden reconciliation agenda—formerly Build Back Better—on the table. Instead, encouraged that West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin continued to block that front, Republicans figured they might as well cash in.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced they reached a reconciliation deal that will revive elements of Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan., a proposal that will raise taxes and exacerbate inflation rates while our senile president assures Americans that we are not in inflation.
Mr. Manchin, reports Ms. Strassel, announced, hours after the vote, that he’d agreed to a $740 billion reconciliation deal after all.
Unfair to Dupes
The kinder commentators are noting that Republicans got “duped” by their West Virginia buddy—but that’s unfair to dupes. Mr. Manchin had never ruled out an agreement; quite the opposite, he said negotiations were continuing. All Republicans had to do was refuse to touch a semiconductor bill until the reconciliation vehicle expired on Sept. 30. Or better yet, walk away from the bloated industrial policy altogether.
Republicans Didn’t Need This Bill
Inflation, gasoline prices, baby-formula shortages and a faltering economy had already provided Republicans all the ammunition they needed for their campaign to retake the Senate. But some Republicans saw an opportunity to funnel money to home-state chip interests, while others saw a chance to do the only thing they know how, spend. Even Mr. McConnell — “master strategist” — voted yes. Don’t confuse getting duped with a failure of basic impulse control.
… the GOP blew its one bit of leverage against the bigger Biden spending bill—which may now prove unstoppable. Democrats had been demoralized and divided, with this week’s headlines all about House infighting over a policing bill. That’s been replaced with an agreement that will revive enthusiasm among the left’s core constituencies, including the green activists and union foot soldiers who are crucial to election mobilization. Republican voters, conversely, can console themselves that their leaders are running out of time to help Democrats add further to the deficit—whether via infrastructure bills or semiconductor bills, Covid bills or veterans bills.
GOP Praying for Hail Marys
(Republicans) will lodge complaints with the Senate parliamentarian, trying to get core provisions of the 700-page bill thrown out under strict reconciliation rules and destabilizing the bill’s coalition. They will tee up amendments for the upcoming “vote-o-rama,” with an aim of pressuring vulnerable Democrats to defect. They are gaming out how they might use to their advantage Mr. Manchin’s demand that he get separate reform of the permit process for energy projects alongside reconciliation. But these all seem long shots amid a Democratic coalition newly galvanized to do whatever it takes.
House Renegades Go Silent
New Jersey Rep. Josh Gottheimer and fellow blue-staters had previously declared they’d never support a reconciliation bill that doesn’t increase the deductibility of state and local taxes, which was limited by the Trump tax law of 2017. This bill doesn’t, but they’ve gone wobbly.
Likewise, House progressives had declared than nothing short of Bernie Sanders’s $6 trillion reconciliation plan would do in this climate “emergency,” yet Congressional Progressive Caucus Chairman Pramila Jayapal this week had nothing but praise for a slimmed-down Manchin bill. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is a master head-knocker, and the stakes are high.
Will Senator Schumer meet his promise of having this bill “done and dusted” by the end of next week? If it happens, argues Ms. Strassel, Republicans will bear plenty of the blame.
How hard is it just to say no? Apparently too hard for this spending-addicted Republican minority.
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