To Understand the Fate of Reconciliation, Understand Manchin Is In It For Manchin
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So what’s going to happen to reconciliation, the debt ceiling, and the continuing resolution? Let me break this down for you from easiest to hardest. The easy answer is the continuing resolution passes. It's clean, both sides do it. It doesn't increase government spending, it just perpetuates it. There will be no government shutdown. The debt ceiling will get increased. It has to get increased. Congressional Republicans and Democrats agree. The question is how. It's going to get increased. Now, will it drag out past October 18th? There's a chance that it will unless the Democrats put it in reconciliation. This gets to the hard part. How do I think this plays out overall?
Here's my personal thinking. This is me. I could be wrong. I am no prophet. I think that the Democrats have to scale back reconciliation for it to pass. I think they have to scale it way back. Now, how do they do that? Well, what I think happens is nothing happens this week, and they come to terms with a scaled-back plan that includes the debt limit increase which alienates progressives and probably sparks a Democrat civil war in the process. This will be followed by a brutal primary season for Democrats nationwide. But it will eventually get done. It will be a smaller reconciliation package without the grab bag of stuff Democrats want.
Now, I suspect one of the things that get gutted is the Green New Deal. Why do I suspect the Green New Deal is going to be on the chopping block? Well, there's a little angle here that nobody likes to talk about. Why do the progressives want to put the Green New Deal inside reconciliation? You're thinking, “well it's because they wanted it to pass and the Republicans will filibuster everything else.” Well, that's true in part but that's not the main reason.
In the United States Senate, who oversees reconciliation? Remember, the Senate is all about power. Every senator has the power to control the Senate. People don't realize this. It's not in the rules of the Senate that everything has to go through the majority leader or the minority leader. No, no, no. That's just tradition. Any senator can rule the roost. The only thing in the rule is that if two senators stand at the exact same time and one of them is the majority leader and one of those is the minority leader, the majority leader goes first and the minority leader goes second.
So if Senator A and the minority leader stand up at the same time and ask for the attention of the President of the Senate, the minority leader has to be recognized. If the majority leader and Senator A stand up together at the same time, the majority leader has to be recognized. If the minority and the majority leader stand up at the same time, the majority leader's recognized and then the minority leader. That's the only rule. Partisanship really doesn't matter, except in proportion to committees. The Senate is more egalitarian than the House. There are just so many people in the House that leadership rules the roost.
If the Green New Deal is in reconciliation, it goes through Bernie Sanders' committee. So progressives want reconciliation to pass because their Green New Deal gets passed the way they want it, thanks to Bernie Sanders. Why do I think it's going to get thrown out to get reconciliation passed? Well, one, it's the thing that screws over the farmers, the ag industry, the fossil fuel industry, the coal miners, and the others the most. If the Green New Deal is stripped from reconciliation in order to get it to pass, who oversees the Green New Deal then? Not Bernie Sanders. Environmental issues in the United States Senate go to one man, Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
That's why I think Manchin is holding this up. See, I don't really believe Manchin cares about the costs as much. He certainly cares about the cost. He is worried about inflation, but Manchin cares about Manchin. Manchin does what's good for Joe Manchin. You ask anybody in the Senate, Republican or Democrat, and their answer is that Joe Manchin is in this for Joe Manchin. If it makes Joe Manchin look good, he gets reelected. And what makes Joe Manchin look good? Screwing the progressives because he's the Senator from West Virginia. But in a coal mining, natural gas state where his son runs one of the largest natural gas companies in America that Joe Manchin started, being able to write the regulations that oversee coal and natural gas as part of the Green New Deal matters more to Joe Manchin than anything.
It's not a conflict of interest. Joe Manchin doesn't run the company anymore. His son does. Certainly, he gets money from it, but it's not really a conflict of interest. Joe Manchin wants to help Joe Manchin. He wants to help himself not by enriching himself, that's what Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez thinks. AOC is accusing Joe Manchin of being in the pocket of the energy industry. Yeah, he certainly gets money from it, but he's not there to write regulations to enrich Joe Manchin. That's a progressive pipe dream. Joe Manchin benefits by protecting the coal miners and natural gas producers of West Virginia, which gets him reelected. This gives Bernie Sanders the middle finger. As long as climate change and the Green New Deal is part of reconciliation, it's part of the budget, it goes to Bernie Sanders. The moment it's stripped out of reconciliation, not only does it lower the whole package cost and price tag, but then it has to go to Joe Manchin and that helps Joe Manchin.
That's why I think reconciliation ultimately passes in a scaled-back form. One of the core components that's taken out will be all the green stuff because that's where most of the costs are anyway. Then Joe Manchin is empowered.
Now, one of the other hangups is Kyrsten Sinema. Kyrsten Sinema doesn't like the corporate tax increases. She thinks that hurts the economy. If you eliminate the Green New Deal components, you also eliminate a lot of the taxes that would be applied to corporations to cover the costs of that sort of stuff. Then, you could get reconciliation to pass.
So I think a scaled-back version of reconciliation with the debt ceiling increase passes. I think the bipartisan infrastructure deal passes. I just think it takes them longer. They're not going to get Republican help on the debt ceiling, so they have to put it in reconciliation. If they have to put it in reconciliation to pass it, that means reconciliation must pass by October 18th. Therefore, reconciliation is going to pass so that they can raise the debt ceiling. If reconciliation passes, they will pass the bipartisan infrastructure plan. That's how I see this all shaping out. It makes sense to me that that's the way it works, because you're all about empowering Joe Manchin if you're Joe Manchin. And for Joe Manchin to be empowered, he's got to show the Democrats he's on the team. But to help Joe Manchin, he's got to be on the team without costing himself anything. That means he gets to preside over the climate change stuff.
The progressives are being played and you know what? I kind of think they know they're getting played. That's why Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been coming out attacking Joe Manchin regularly. She hasn't really said anything about Kyrsten Sinema. Other Democrats in the house are attacking Kyrsten Sinema, but she's attacking Joe Manchin. Bernie Sanders is now attacking Joe Manchin and it all has to do with the Green New Deal. They know what's going on here. Joe Manchin wants to help Joe Manchin. In helping Joe Manchin, he's actually helping the country if we're honest about it, because he's going to strip a lot of the stuff out, and that's actually going to be a good thing.