I rarely sit down to write the night before a blog post is due, but Joe Manchin has lit a fuse under my outrage gene, to a point where I had to pour out my thoughts before I went to bed.
I now absolutely understand where progressives are coming from when it comes to a lack of trust in Manchin and Sinema. For me, Sinema is a simple attention seeker who is on the take from big Pharma. Whilst it's abhorrent, it's a human trait that I may be disgusted by, but nonetheless I understand. Manchin on the other hand, is VERY different. He is an accomplished political operator who is using his God complex to accomplish questionable political objectives. The bad news for Democrats is that this is at odds with the core values of the Democratic Party. He really does fit into the Dixiecrat suit. It seems clear to me from his press conference yesterday, he is attempting to force progressives to vote through the infrastructure package, with the intent of then running down the clock on the Build Back Better agenda. I think this is a reasonable assessment of his intent.
At the time of writing, it appears that he will get his way, but that remains to be seen. Either way, Terry McCauliffe in Virginia has seen this public spat put the chances of Dems winning his gubernatorial race on a knife's edge. If the polls are to be believed, a state that was a walk in the park for Biden in 2020 looks like it may send a big warning message to the Dems. I could go on about McCauliffe's campaign and how I thought it was flawed, but that's for another day. In any event, the result will have a big impact on the road to the 2022 mid term elections.
America has long fallen into the trap that any form of social investment is 'socialism'. The irony is, Bernie Sanders, however unintentional, has over the years, served to reinforce that illusion. I can understand why his Social Democrat driven agenda has crossed the line of 'pulling yourself up by your bootstraps' and is perceived as an entitlement agenda which is anti business. Now before any progressive reader stops reading and gets back to something far more important, bear with me for a moment. I come from Europe where Bernie would be regarded as a mainstream Democratic socialist. However, the political culture gap that the Atlantic divides, is deep rooted in our respective societies.
Historically, capitalism and socialism have been worlds apart as personified by Soviet and Chinese communism. This was viewed by the west as a cancer on society that must at the very least, be constrained and ideally destroyed. Globalisation has seen an evolution of communist authoritarianism into a tightly controlled reimagined capitalism. In other words, China in particular, have embraced the economic benefits of western style capitalism, without allowing the democratic freedoms that the west accept as a given. On a base level, this provides a distinct economic edge to China. Over decades they used a low wage workforce to effectively kidnap manufacturing from the west. They used the one thing they knew countries like the US could not say no to, CHEAP LABOR. It became the fiscal narcotic of choice for western businesses and they became hooked. The west simply could not help itself as it shipped more and more jobs to China at the expense of workers at home. It was so significant in America, that it literally created a rust belt. Manufacturing drained away and communities were literally thrown under the bus, at the alter of profit and greed. Think about it. How did that serve the American people? Manufacturing workers were simply acceptable collateral damage in the race for profit.
American politicians and in particular Republicans, often describe China as an economic terrorist state and the root of all evil. China is a monster that their greed created. They thought they were exploiting the Chinese just like they exploited their Native Americans and the slaves that have delivered their historic wealth. The problem is, the Chinese knew how to play the long game. They kept feeding western economies with their profits from huge savings on manufacturing costs. While the the west were getting high on cheap goods and ever increasing bottom lines, the Chinese government slowly but surely amassed wealth. They expanded manufacturing feeding yet more fiscal crack to the greedy rich. For the Chinese, it was literally manna from heaven. Growth in China was on steroids whilst western economies had sprung an a fiscal arterial bleed. It was a historic, largely unrecognised economic shift that saw the birth of China as a global economic powerhouse. The ignorance of the US political classes was never better demonstrated than by Matt Gaetz a few days ago, when he was calling for reparations from China for causing the pandemic. I'm sure the Chinese leadership are quaking in their boots, NOT. China is the biggest holder of US sovereign debt, so Matt and his intellectually deficient fellow domestic terrorists, had better hope China doesn't call in their markers.
So, what does this have to do with Manchin? I'm not sure we'll get there entirely in this conversation, but I guarantee you will see how totally relevant it is, as we bring the wider conversation to a close. Manchin's argument is about the damage social investment would do to the American economy. The US is a country in which a narrative has been created that any money the state gives to someone, makes them lazy and builds an entitlement society. It's a lame argument that simply does not hold up to scrutiny. The fiscal high that big business saw from shipping jobs to
China is the whole reason that the federal minimum wage has remained at $7.25 since 2009. There is not a corporate executive in America that does not expect his or her wages to keep pace with inflation. Yet the federal minimum wage has remained static for over a decade. Had it kept place with inflation, today it would be a little over $24. So when you look at Washington State, where the minimum wage is $13.69, even that represents only just over 50% of that value. Had it kept pace with inflation, it would now be regarded as a reasonable living wage. My argument is simply this. There would be no need to even discus an entitlement society had the federal minimum wage simply kept pace with inflation.
Let's step back for a moment and think why a totally reasonable step like linking the minimum wage to inflation is but a pipe dream? It comes down once again to corporate dependancy on a sea of 'low skilled' economic slaves. I realise that this is inflammatory language, but reality is sometimes very uncomfortable. The people of West Virginia live in a state where the median household income in 2020 was $51.615, down $2000 from 2019. I would respectfully suggest to Mr Manchin, that a large proportion of his constituents are part of that pool of economic slaves, so I suppose that makes him a political plantation owner. Now if history tells us anything, it tells us that slaves are an important commodity, so I can understand that sat on his yacht, the political cotton fields back home, need those cotton pickers to be kept poor and uneducated. So why on earth would he want to vote for social policies that would make those slaves start to question why they are being exploited?
This is where I return to progressive politics and the misnomer that playing fair is 'radical' STOP IT, playing fair should be the societal default. However, the right have been so good at controlling the narrative that they have convinced the American people that fair equals socialism and that any fair play will lead to the destruction of the US economy. It's a bigger lie than the big lie. The lunatic right in their quest to placate the top 2%, are forced to constantly adjust the narrative in order to keep the slaves in line and Manchin has become a foot soldier in that quest. I am sick of listening to those that espouse trickledown economics telling those that are being pissed on, that getting wet is just a fact of life. In January this year, Manchin was advocating for a $4 trillion infrastructure plan and he is on camera enthusiastically promoting the idea. So in January, the cost was acceptable, but now, $1.75 trillion is a problem and he doesn't even know if he could support that without extensive financial modelling and an impact assessment. BULLSHIT Mr Manchin, BULLSHIT.
Let me tell you why Manchin is slow walking. The key is in one word. INFRASTRUCTURE. He was happy for $4 trillion to be spent on it, but now only $1.2 trillion is acceptable to his Republican handlers. If the bill for Build Back Better had been agreed at even say $3 trillion, if you add the $1.2 trillion for infrastructure, his original $4 trillion suggestion was on the money (no pun intended). The only conclusion that can be drawn from his current position, is that the Build Back Better agenda is not hard infrastructure, but social investment and therefore, he can't support it. What an odd position to take for a Democrat representing what at best, is a fiscally struggling state. He is at total odds with Democratic Party values and dare I suggest, acting contrary to the needs of those constituents who elected him.
Let me be so bold as to suggest what it is NOT about, is the national debt as he claims. It can't be. The infrastructure bill on its own will increase the deficit by billions of dollars. It's about big social investment and his idealogical opposition to it. When the infrastructure bill is implemented, it will provide a slush fund for Republican corporate donors to cream off the top as hard infrastructure is delivered. Yes it will create employment and rebuild vital infrastructure, but Corporate America will be a big beneficiary. So Manchin's donors will be a winner. Build Back Better is social investment and that money is much more difficult for big business to skim. Aside from that, the cultural narrative the GOP has created over the years will allow the right to paint the plan as a giveaway to lazy folk.
I could go on, but let's stop there for today. I have so much more to say on the subject and will continue tomorrow. I know today's read was a little longer than normal, but I felt I had to get my thoughts out there on Manchin, as he is driving me insane. Let's catch up tomorrow. Be safe out there.