Do Not Weep for Joe Manchin

Oh, poor Joe.  After caving to Democrat demands, West Virginia's senator for life, Joe Manchin, has discovered he is not on top of the world, but in a valley staring up.

The main issue is the so-called Inflation Reduction Act, which was never really about inflation.  It was just a cover for Green New Deal regulations and massive subsidies for electric vehicles and renewable energy projects involving windmills and solar panels. Manchin's compromise with Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer was a deal to pass a streamlined permitting process for infrastructure projects, like the Mountain Valley gas pipeline.

Problem one for Joe is that Democrats may not keep their word on the compromise.   As I wrote in an earlier post:

Although Democrats said they would help Manchin get the Mountain Valley Pipeline completed and in operation, chances are they won't live up to it.  Completion of the pipeline has been delayed since 2018 thanks to legal challenges from various environmental groups, civil rights activists, climate crazies, and lawmakers, almost all of whom are Democrats.  

Unsurprisingly, around two weeks ago, over 70 House Democrats sent Speaker Nancy Pelosi a letter on this subject.  In the letter, they asked her to back out of the compromise, claiming that the permitting legislation would weaken the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970.  Democrats also claim that if they don't get their way, they won't vote for the spending legislation it is attached to, effectively forcing a government shutdown.  In addition, over 650 environmental and related groups sent a letter to Schumer and Pelosi opposing Manchin's "dirty" infrastructure bill.

If Democrats are threatening to shut down the government, you know it is serious.

Problem two: Joe destroyed all of his credibility with Republicans.  Not that he really cares — Manchin has first, last, and always been a Democrat.  If Republicans thought they were working with a friend, the joke is on them.  On the other hand, if Republicans retake control of the Senate, Joe might find himself in line for some sort of legislative payback.

Problem three: The home folks, a majority of whom are now Republicans, are not happy.  According to a recent poll, Joe's popularity has slipped from 57% before voting for the Inflation Reduction Act to an abysmal 26% afterward.  Considering that roughly 40% of the West Virginia workforce is employed by businesses that directly or indirectly deal with fossil fuels, it is not hard to see why.

The main point of the Inflation Reduction Act is to push renewable energy at the expense of fossil fuels.  If Joe can sell this to the voters of West Virginia, it will be one of the greatest con jobs since the Dutch bought Manhattan Island for $24's worth of trinkets.

What can he say?  Folks, we got ourselves a great deal here.  We'll get that Mountain Valley pipeline humming so we can suck all that gas out of the state as fast as we can before it gets taxed or explodes or something.  I brought you some goodies, too.  I got Obamacare funded for a couple years.  Free health care, right?  And coal miners get more black lung benefits, at least until my Democrat friends shut down the mines.  When that happens, we'll cover the ridges and mountaintops in windmills and the hillsides in solar panels.  Then y'all can get jobs wiping bird crap off the panels and picking up bird carcasses from around the windmills.  Won't that be great?

After all of that, I doubt that Manchin would bother to mention the 87,000 new IRS employees or income taxes going up.

Does he honestly believe that putting West Virginia jobs at risk will win him another six-year term in the Senate?  The big, fat, ugly question here is, why did he agree to the compromise?  What does Joe get from this besides a pipeline and some federal giveaways?

It would be reasonable to expect Joe to receive some maxed-out campaign contributions from pipeline companies, oil and gas PACs, and maybe even electric vehicle–makers — all of which he can take with him when he leaves the Senate.  But he would have likely gotten most of those anyway.

Perhaps Manchin's meetings with multi-billionaire Bill Gates have something to do with this.  The Inflation Reduction Act appropriates $350 billion for loans to energy infrastructure and clean energy technology projects.  Gates is heavily into clean energy technology, which might guarantee him several more boatloads of cash comparable to the one he already has.  So it would be in his interest to get Manchin on board.

I would never accuse Senator Manchin of taking a bribe or Gates of offering one.  However, being a friend of Gates could open some Hunter Biden–like doors.

Although Joe cannot serve on a board of directors while holding office, his wife Gayle can.  Median compensation for board members in 2020 was over $40,000 per year in cash or stock options but can easily reach six figures.  If Gayle were elected or appointed to three or four boards influenced or controlled by Gates, the compensation could be considerable.

Another option is for Gates to help the Manchins start a clean energy consulting company or a company that makes widgets or something else the Gates outfit needs.  Then, a few years later, Gates buys out the Manchin family for a truckload of cash. 

The possibilities in this space are nearly endless.

Manchin is now saying we need a wall at the border to prevent illegal immigration.  Since Manchin typically jumps to the right on political topics before hopping back to the left, this may signal that he is ready to make a deal on amnesty for illegals.  This makes perfect sense.  Why bother trying to get re-elected in a state where 70% of the electorate voted for Trump when you can simply import a whole bunch of new Democrats to help you out?

Image: Third Way Think Tank via Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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