The Build Back Better (BBB) bill would have harmed family businesses, cost jobs, and accelerated the economic consolidation already taking place in this country. It would have been a negative for those states and communities that rely on family businesses as the core of their economies and their social institutions. That’s why S-Corp and the Main Street Employers coalition have been fighting it for the past year.
And now it’s dead – or at least on life support. Senator Joe Manchin announced this morning on Fox News that he would vote “no” on the BBB. As he told Bret Baier:
If I can’t go home and explain it to the people of West Virginia, I can’t vote for it. And I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I just can’t. I’ve tried everything humanly possible, I can’t get there… This is a no on this legislation.
The White House was typically ham-handed in their response, arguing that Manchin had lied to them and that his concerns were wrong:
Likewise, Senator Manchin’s statement about the climate provisions in Build Back Better are wrong. Build Back Better will produce a job-creating clean energy future for this country—including West Virginia.
Just as Senator Manchin reversed his position on Build Back Better this morning, we will continue to press him to see if he will reverse his position yet again, to honor his prior commitments and be true to his word.
You can see the full statement here. It reads like a bad breakup note. Not only does the White House repeat all the mistakes that led to the breakup in the first place, they think calling Manchin names and telling him they know more about West Virginia than he does will help get them back together again. Doesn’t work in relationships, and it’s unlikely to work here.
The fact is that Manchin has been consistent with his concerns since last July and his colleagues have simply ignored him and pressed forward regardless. He provided Leader Schumer with a one-page summary of what he could support back in July, he wrote a September op-ed itemizing his concerns, he held a press conference reiterating that position in November, he sat for a December interview with the Wall Street Journal where he outlined his concerns in detail, and he spoke to reporters just last week repeating it all once again. As the WSJ observed:
He has also been consistent in his calls to “pause” to evaluate the growing threat of inflation and has been equally consistent in seeking a bill free of budget gimmicks, fossil-fuel penalties and new entitlements that aren’t means-tested or don’t require work.
His colleagues’ response has been to bull ahead as if Mr. Manchin doesn’t mean it. They assume that the West Virginian, as a deal-making politician, will eventually come around. But they seem not to notice that Mr. Manchin’s concerns are as much economic as political.
This all took place at a time when poll after poll showed the lack of support for the BBB and how inconsistent the congressional agenda was with the worries and fears of American voters.
So Democratic leadership ignored Joe Manchin and the concerns of the people he represents – and now they are paying the price. Can they regroup and salvage something from the wreckage? Liam Donovan has the right take on the that one:
It goes without saying that opposition from Joe Manchin dooms the Build Back Better reconciliation package, at least in its current iteration. Whether Democrats can regroup and offer a slimmed down, reconfigured form of the Biden agenda that can pass muster with the West Virginia Senator remains to be seen. At some level, the flare-up isn’t particularly surprising. The House passed Bill was always nonstarter with Manchin, and key changes were universally understood to be required. But clearly President Biden and progressives had held out hope that they could compel Manchin’s support with only marginal tweaks. Today’s escalation reflects Manchin’s exasperation with the fact that his copartisans have not heeded his consistent warnings and clear concerns regarding the size and scope of the bill. Think of his Fox News appearance, and the lengthy statement his office had at the ready, as a bazooka across the bow. But it also underscores the guiding principle we have long espoused–anything that happens via reconciliation will be on Manchin’s terms. Failure to accept this simple reality is a recipe for futility. As President Biden and his congressional allies gaze into the legislative abyss in the coming weeks, they’ll have to rethink their strategy and come up with a new approach to woo Manchin and salvage their agenda in the new year.
Manchin’s announcement this morning means hundreds of thousands of business owners can finish out the year refocused on their families and their businesses. They can go back to investing and creating the jobs that will help us recover from the pandemic. And they can cancel those meetings with their tax professionals where they were going to explore how to completely reconfigure their operations just to survive under the BBB. Manchin’s announcement is good news for Main Street, and it’s good news for America. Happy Holidays.