The president of the United States, Joe Biden, does nothing but get upset. To the worst approval rating of his term (36%, approximately that of Jimmy Carter’s presidency), the setbacks of the Supreme Court and inflation at its highest since 1981, one of his co-religionists, the illustrious Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, who is commonly described as a centrist but is considered by some to be a Republican sitting on the Democratic caucus. Manchin, closely linked to the gas industry, has shown this Thursday his opposition to the environmental agenda of the White House to combat climate change and the rise in taxes on large corporations and the richest Americans to finance it.
Manchin, a representative from the conservative state of West Virginia, informed the historic Chuck Schumer, leader of the Democratic majority in the Senate, of his decision, which is not a novelty but does occur on the eve of the decisive mid-term elections in November, which may give Republicans control of Congress, which would greatly complicate the rest of Biden’s presidency. Any vote counts given the current composition of the Senate: 50 Democratic seats and as many Republicans, with the tiebreaker vote or quality of the president of the upper house, at the time the vice president Kamala Harris. The voting system in this House also implies the toll of filibusterism: 60 votes necessary out of a hundred to pass a law.
Munchin had previously blocked, along with his co-religionist Kirsten Sinema, attempts to pass the ambitious social spending program build back better (Build Back Better), with an endowment of almost 1.9 trillion dollars, for fear that public spending would feed the deficit and inflation, which is already runaway without the need for infrastructure programs such as the one mentioned.
The Democrats hoped to approve this summer, to gain traction among their electorate before November, a bill that contemplates the tax increase to the highest incomes, to finance investment against climate change. But Manchin, according to various US media, was adamant in his opposition. The untimeliness of the rejection, a little more than three months before the electoral call, it stings even more if possible in the party.
After privately communicating his decision to his parliamentary leader, Manchin publicly defended his position this Friday while asking for time, hinting that he could still support such an action later and, above all, once the inflation data for July, mid-August. “Let’s wait until that [los datos del IPC] come to light, so that we know that we are on a path that will not be incendiary, to add more [leña] to inflation”, Manchin summarized his conversation with Schumer the day before, in a telephone interview granted this Friday to a West Virginia station. “Can’t we wait to make sure we don’t do anything that adds [presión] to that? [Ahora mismo] I cannot make any decision on taxes of any kind, and neither on energy and climate, “added Manchin, in statements collected by the newspaper New York Times.
His spokesman seconded his version: “Senator Manchin believes that it is time for leaders to park their political agendas, and reevaluate and adjust [estas] to the economic realities facing the country to avoid measures that add fuel to the fire of inflation.” According to the newspaper Washington PostMunchin did say he was willing to support a drop in drug prices and an expansion of subsidies to Medicare, the health coverage program for the elderly.
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Thus, none of the positions is strictly new: neither the White House’s intention to address climate change as a pressing threat, nor Manchin’s rejection of entry, whose interests, as well as those of his family and those of the State he represents depend on fossil fuel generation. But with Biden under public scrutiny – also because of his official visit to Saudi Arabia, the country he promised to make a pariah of the international community, in search of more oil – Manchin’s refusal resonates with greater echo.