CLAY: News breaking in the last hour: We got some budget reconciliation drama. Oh, boy. Fireworks. This is from Mother Jones website, that Joe Manchin has told Democrats that he is considering leaving the party and has an exit plan in place. Now, Manchin is saying this in the context of negotiation that is ongoing about exactly how much this budget is going to cost. According to this article, he has let the White House know that he will not support any higher than $1.75 trillion in the budget.
That’s still a lot of money, but it’s half of the reported price tag that Democrats wanted. And he has said 1-7-5 is his top number, and that if the Democrats reject it, here’s what he would do. This is according to Mother Jones. Now, Manchin has come out and denied it. Manchin says he would send a letter to Chuck Schumer announcing that he was pulling himself out of Democratic leadership in the Senate.
If that did not get his results, after another week, he would change his voter registration from Democrat to independent. The question then would be whether or not Manchin would caucus with the Democrats or the Republicans. It’s worth mentioning, Sunday New York Times had a big article saying that Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona — who is also among the most moderate of the Democrats — has also contemplated in some way being an independent and that maybe that would be a better fit for her.
So, Buck, when you see this story… And obviously we saw — was it Jim Jeffords, I think — who switched his party affiliation and changed the overall makeup of the Senate back in the day. He flipped from Republicans to Democrats, right, and became an independent but caucused with Democrats and changed the control of that chamber. Do you buy into the idea that Manchin potentially could become an independent and leave the Democratic Party, or is this just a negotiating ploy?
BUCK: It feels so hard to separate the leverage that he gets even from this. Of course, he denies it. “Oh, no, no, no!” He denies it right away, right?
CLAY: This is a pretty detailed article supposedly breaking down decision-making.
BUCK: Look, the Democrat Party is a party of progressive authoritarians. I mean, that’s really the truth.
BUCK: I throw around the term “commie” sometimes. That’s their more revolutionary vanguard. That’s more The Squad and AOC. You know, there’s a communist vibe that comes from some of the more extreme Democrats these days, and I think it’s filtering into their policies. But does Joe Manchin really have a home in today’s Democrat Party?
BUCK: When you look at it, it actually would make sense for him to be an independent given these realities. Also, the fact that West Virginia is a quite red state and that —
CLAY: The reddest state supporting Trump in 2020.
BUCK: Oh, I thought it was Wyoming. It’s West Virginia? Yeah.
CLAY: I think it’s West Virginia. Let’s get a fact check on that during the commercial break.
BUCK: You’ve got this Democrat senator from a very, very red state — and remember, just a few years ago he was very important voice and vote for confirmation when it came to Brett Kavanaugh and that situation, right? And he realized West Virginia did not believe the Kavanaugh smears as a stated, that the people of West Virginia.
So that was a wise move and the right move for him. Here’s the problem I think the Democrats have. They put forward this $3.5 trillion… Remember it’s really more than that. I mean, when people actually look at the numbers, it’s $3.5 trillion plus a trillion in infrastructure. So when you look at the total spending package, it was massive.
BUCK: And to put this in perspective, the Obama administration, the Obama administration spending spree that ignited the Tea Party when you’re looking at the stimulus package, it was about a trillion dollars for the stimulus package. So we’re now looking 3.5 trillion which is completely just blowout spending with rising inflation, and the Democrats keep going, “Oh, wow, inflation’s a little worse than I thought. Why is inflation going up?”
It’s math! It’s because you’re putting so much money into the economy, you’re putting pressure on the currency. But I think that they’re gonna have a tough time convincing Democrats, even if Manchin gets his way here, that what they’ve passed is really enough and shows that the Biden agenda is real. Because I think they overshot what the initial price tag. So there will be a letdown even if the 1.7 trillion Manchin’s holding out for becomes the final number. And as for Manchin switching parties or not, I think a lot of it is gonna be determined by how this actual debate and this political wrangling turns out for him. But it doesn’t strike me as implausible at all.
CLAY: Here’s the way that I would look at it. If Manchin wants to remain in the Senate in the years ahead — he was elected and reelected in ’18; he’s going to be up for reelection in ’24 — I don’t see any way possible that in 2024 he wins, given how much the Senate has become a national referendum, particularly given how important his seat is. So I wonder whether…
You tell me what you think about from a Manchin perspective. If he flips and decides to run as an independent instead of a Democrat right before 2024, politically he’s gonna get attacked as being a turncoat who only cares about his reelection. If he changes parties several years in advance of 2024, he can say, “Hey, I wanted to be representing the people of West Virginia the best way that I could,” and even though I was elected as a Democrat, I decided to become an independent.
“So I’m not now changing my colors just to get reelected.” Does look at this make sense? He can say what is true I think of a lot of Democrats: “The Democratic Party left me, is them I didn’t leave the Democratic Party — and in order to best represent West Virginia, I needed to become an independent.” I think that’s a compelling political argument.
I think it’s easier to make it now then it would be as a prelude to running in 2024 when everybody would just say, “Oh, it’s awfully convenient! You did the Democrat bidding, and then as soon as you might face the consequences, you now try to change your party affiliation.” I think if he’s gonna do it for 2024 he has to do it now — and if he’s not gonna do it, I think he’s basically saying, “I’m out. I’m not gonna try to win reelection in ’24.”
BUCK: And, in the meantime, we have the fate of the Biden agenda hanging in the balance.
CLAY: it hangs until they balance.
BUCK: ‘Cause there is nothing… Those executive orders that Biden signed in the very beginning, things like stopping the Keystone XL pipeline? Oh, that’s great! Just remember that everybody every time you go to put gas in your car, the Biden administration approach in general to energy, ’cause they’ll say, “Oh, but the Keystone was…” Yeah, whatever. The approach in general when it comes to leasing on federal land, when it comes to hydrocarbons —
BUCK: — they’ve taken the position, let’s make it as hard as possible and expensive as possible for you to heat your home and have gas for your car. But you look at the early Biden administration executive orders, that doesn’t cut approximate. What does cut it? We haven’t beaten covid. The economy looks like it’s… We keep talking about how it’s just not a good year for Joe Biden. If they don’t get the massive spending package through anywhere near even what they said they would?
We’re talking about cutting it in half; that’s gonna be a tough sell. It’s funny. It’s a tough sell because of the expectations they set up, Clay, but then, by the same token, as I said, it’s double, almost, what the Obama spending package was, and we thought that was crazy. So all right, everybody, don’t worry about it. Your savings will just keep disappearing. Smoke ’em if you got ’em. Clay and I will be here for you as the Democrat commies ruin the economy that we have. So that’s what we got.