With Democratic Senator Joe Manchin it is never a question of whether he will support Democratic Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren’s worst ideas, it is merely a matter of when. Make no mistake, it is Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren who drive the Democratic agenda. President Joe Biden is simply the cheerleader rooting for Democrats to unite.
Starting in 1995, when working in the West Virginia State Legislature, I observed Senator Manchin’s career from the state senate to the governor to U.S. Senate firsthand. His loyalty to the Democratic Party is only surpassed by his obsession with being viewed as the key to legislation passing.
The $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill and a $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill will prove to be the latest example. Senator Manchin’s loudest objections have been about the total amount. There does not seem to be much concern for the actual ideas and policies the bills fund. He is not alone. Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema and media defined “moderate” House Democrats have also focused their criticism on the total amount, not what is actually in the bills. President Biden, Senator Schumer, and Speaker Pelosi know this. Thus, we are now getting daily reports that differences among Democrats are narrowing the amount of government spending. Once Democrats agree on a lower amount, Americans will be left with policies that jeopardize our personal and economic security.
To be clear, the amounts being discussed are hard to grasp. The results of that spending are easier to understand. We are borrowing money we don’t have and increasing the size of the debt to China so that Democrats can spend more money on solar power and climate troops. And who benefits the most from the manufacturing of an essential part of solar panels? China.
This is why Congressional Republicans must not get lost in the fog of numbers. Democrats objecting to the amount of the infrastructure and reconciliation bills can get a lower number. In turn, Senators Sanders, Warren, and their progressive House buddies advance their vision for America and live to fight on. Mr. Biden touts “success” and his ability to “make Washington work.” All of this will leave Americans with a federal government further in control of major areas of their lives.
Messaging by Congressional Republicans must educate Americans on the details of what Democrats are seeking to do. The Job Creators Network recently highlighted several head-shaking expenditures. There will be more IRS agents for audits and enforcement. Our country will have a “civilian climate corps.” Those who make the most money will be given money for electric vehicles. We’ll be paying to give others electric bikes.
History can teach us a lot, and Congressional Republicans need to draw on it now. Years ago, in the first term of President Bill Clinton, one Republican Senator put a stake in the ground to rally his colleagues, allies, and Americans to defeat the legislation known as HillaryCare.
The legislation was named after then First Lady Hillary Clinton, who was tasked with passing nationalized health care. Republican Senator Phil Gramm, making sure he made clear the particulars that made the measure so terrible, said: “We are going to have national health care in America over my cold, dead political body.”
The current situation in our nation’s capital demands that sort of commitment. Leading Republican voices must loudly and clearly state they are prepared to use every asset and resource allowed to stop the misguided madness of the Democrats after “human infrastructure” and government spending that will “cost zero dollars.”
Republicans must remember that voters share similar views on taxes and government spending. As prominent pollster David Winston observes from the September survey for Winning the Issues, on a scale of 1-9, with 1 being very liberal and 9 very conservative, voters place themselves center-right at 5.71. They place Democrats in Congress to the left at 3.87 and Republicans in Congress to the right at 6.50. The distance from the average voter to Congressional Democrats (1.84) is more than twice that of the distance to Congressional Republicans (0.79).
In West Virginia, a “spell” means an amount of time. We don’t know how long Senator Manchin and objecting Democrats plan for this spell to last. We can be confident that they are not going to get in the way of Mr. Sanders, Ms. Warren, and their progressive House buddies. All that is standing in their way are Congressional Republicans committed to the lessons learned when HillaryCare was defeated.
There is no better time to start than today.
• David Avella is GOPAC Chairman and veteran Republican strategist.