Tag: joe manchin
Joe Manchin

The Mighty Achievements Of Senator Joe Manchin

When Joe Manchin announced his plan to retire from the United States Senate, he offered the following explanation: "I believe in my heart of hearts that I have accomplished what I set out to do for West Virginia." Manchin went on to add that while serving out the remainder of his term, he will also be "traveling the country and speaking out to see if there is an interest in building a movement to mobilize the middle, finding common ground and bringing Americans together."

Which was another way of saying that, although nominally a Democrat, he will consider running as a third-party candidate for president on the "No Labels" ticket, possibly drawing enough votes away from President Joe Biden to return former President Donald Trump to the White House.

The stated purposes of the No Labels enterprise, which supposedly aims to bolster democracy while conducting its business behind closed doors, without accountability or transparency, are not plausible at all. Its principal leaders are Mark Penn, the pollster best known for being thrown out of Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign, and his spouse Nancy Jacobson, both amply discredited already. The company they keep (or purchase), including such figures as former Sen. Joe Lieberman and former Nation of Islam official Ben Chavis, will not improve their operation's image.

Nobody should be surprised to learn that the financiers of this dubious outfit are the usual Republican billionaires whose real aim is to bring back Trump. They're the same fat cats who have become the biggest donors to Manchin in recent years. These rich right-wingers find the West Virginia senator charming, despite that "D" next to his name, because he is actually a wealthy coal baron. He opposed the child tax credit because, he told colleagues, parents in his state would use the money to buy illegal narcotics — a very Republican remark, just brimming with compassion.

What remains puzzling is why the No Labels grifters would expect Manchin to have any great appeal as a national candidate. In the Senate he helped to kill voting rights, opposed abortion rights and did what he could to frustrate Biden's clean energy agenda. So he won't draw young, minority or female voters away from the Democrat.

For that matter, why would anyone support Joe Manchin? In departing the Senate, he boasted about a long list of political triumphs. But on closer inspection, that vaunted record consists chiefly of the federal spending projects he brought to his home state — an argument that cuts sharply against his claim to have protected the nation from Biden's "excessive spending." (That spending looks quite wise at this point, since it boosted employment and protected us from the horrendous recession predicted by so many alleged experts.)

"I have accomplished what I set out to do for West Virginia," said Manchin as he patted his own back. What did he accomplish, though? The Mountain State is still impoverished, underinvested, poorly educated and lacking in most of the things that people need to thrive — and that government is supposed to help provide.

The latest state rankings by U.S. News & World Report, a nonpartisan news outlet, tell the dismal story of what Manchin has in fact accomplished. In short, not much. West Virginia ranks at or near the very bottom in public health and health care quality, infrastructure, transportation, employment, economic opportunity, education and income inequality. Although the state is a top producer of coal and natural gas, it even ranks near the bottom in power grid reliability. And Manchin's beloved state is at 46 in overall livability.

Of course, life is a lot better if you're a West Virginian like Joe Manchin, who is worth a fortune, drives a Maserati and lives aboard a $700,000 yacht on the Potomac River. Yes indeed, he did a wonderful job as senator, at least for himself. It will be amusing to hear him explain why the average West Virginian's life improved so little despite his herculean efforts — and why he felt that job was done — if and when he runs for president.

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

GOP Senators Appear At USO Photo Op, Then Vote Down Vets Health Care

GOP Senators Appear At USO Photo Op, Then Vote Down Vets Health Care

Oh, this is perfect. Immediately before they voted against health care for veterans affected by toxic exposure during their service, several Senate Republicans tweeted about how excited they were to join the USO to assemble care packages for members of the military.

Sens. Rick Scott, Mitt Romney, and Cindy Hyde-Smith all made care packages for the military for at least long enough for a photo op, then tweeted about how grateful they were for the opportunity, and how much they support the troops. Then they went and voted against the PACT Act, a bill that had passed the Senate 84-14 just weeks ago before coming back this week for a minor tweak. The Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (or PACT) Act extends health coverage for 23 respiratory illnesses and cancers potentially caused by burn pits where millions of veterans were exposed to those toxins.

Republicans shifted against the PACT Act because Democrats announced a plan for a completely unrelated bill: the reconciliation deal with Sen. Joe Manchin to invest in clean energy and health care while raising some corporate taxes. That’s what it took for them to go from being so grateful to the USO for the opportunity to assemble care packages for service members to voting to deny health care to veterans for conditions related to their time in the military.

Comedian Jon Stewart, who has become a dedicated advocate for veterans, skewered Scott at a Thursday press conference.

“It’s beautiful,” Stewart said, dripping with sarcasm. “Did you get the package? I think it has M&M’s in it, and some cookies and some moist towelettes.”

“None of them care—except to tweet,” he added. “Boy, they’ll tweet it. Can’t wait to see what they come up with on Veterans Day, on Memorial Day. Well, this is the reality of it.”

“We’ve seen partisanship and games within Congress for years,” Jeremy Butler, CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, was quoted by NBC News. “But what is shocking is that so many senators would literally be willing to play with veterans’ lives so openly like this.

“They’re manufacturing reasons to vote against legislation that they literally voted for just last month,” Butler continued. “And so it’s really a new level of low.”

After they blocked the bill, some Senate Republicans celebrated with fist bumps and handshakes:

The PACT Act, if Republicans ever allow it to pass, will extend coverage to 3.5 million veterans.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Budget Bill Revives Biden Vow To Tax Wealthy And Corporations

Budget Bill Revives Biden Vow To Tax Wealthy And Corporations

By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- President Joe Biden's campaign promise to increase taxes on corporations and the wealthy as part of a battle against glaring income inequality in the United States got an unexpected boost on Wednesday.

Early proposals to increase tax rates from Biden and his fellow Democrats hit a brick wall in Congress after Republicans -- and some Democrats -- opposed them. But a sudden reversal by West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, a swing vote in the divided Senate, has given Biden's tax agenda a new lease on life.

The amount U.S. companies contribute to tax revenue that funds roads and schools has plummeted since the 1940s.

Biden has often said in office that companies should instead pay a "fair share," a contrast to deference to private markets begun by Republicans with former President Ronald Reagan's election in 1980, and buoyed by rounds of tax cuts and deregulation, by both parties.

The new compromise bill includes $430 billion in new spending on energy, electric vehicle tax credits and health insurance investments. It more than pays for itself by raising minimum taxes for big companies and enforcing existing tax laws, Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement.

Biden said during a speech on Thursday that the deal would "for the first time in a long time begin to restore fairness to the tax code - begin to restore fairness by making the largest corporations in America pay their fair share without any new taxes on people making under $400,000 a year."

The bill would impose a 15 percent minimum tax on corporations with profits over $1 billion, raising $313 billion over a decade, they wrote. Companies could claim net operating losses and tax credits against the 15 percent.

The U.S. corporate tax rate dropped to 21 percent from 35 percent after a 2017 tax cut pushed by then-President Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans, but many companies pay much less than that, and some of the largest pay no federal taxes, research groups including the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy have found.

Biden proposed raising that rate to 28 percent last year as part of an infrastructure spending bill, but the tax component was struck from the bill.

The new Manchin-Schumer bill also aims to close the so-called carried interest loophole, long a goal of Democrats.

Carried interest refers to a longstanding Wall Street tax break that let many private equity and hedge fund financiers pay the lower capital gains tax rate on much of their income, instead of the higher income tax rate paid by wage earners.

Eliminating the loophole would raise $14 billion, the senators say.

Schumer said he expected the Senate to vote on the legislation next week, to "lower prescription drug prices, tackle the climate crisis with urgency and vigor, ensure the wealthiest corporations and individuals pay their fair share in taxes, and reduce the deficit."

The Manchin-Schumer measure is substantially smaller than the multi-trillion-dollar spending bill Democrats had envisioned last year.

But it still represents a major advance for Biden's policy agenda ahead of midterm elections on Nov. 8 that could determine whether Democrats retain control of Congress.

It came just as Biden celebrated Senate passage of a bill aimed at boosting the U.S. semiconductor industry, another key priority of his administration, and as he struggles with low job approval ratings and ebbing support from his own party after a series of conservative Supreme Court rulings.

"This bill will reduce the deficit beyond the record-setting $1.7 trillion in deficit reduction we have already achieved this year, which will help fight inflation as well," Biden said in a statement.

"And we will pay for all of this by requiring big corporations to pay their fair share of taxes, with no tax increases at all for families making under $400,000 a year," he said.

(Reporting By Steve Holland; editing by Heather Timmons and Mark Porter)

Exclusive: Biden To Announce Executive Orders On Climate Crisis​​

Exclusive: Biden To Announce Executive Orders On Climate Crisis​​

By Jarrett Renshaw and Valerie Volcovici

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- President Joe Biden plans to announce new executive orders aimed at tackling the climate crisis on Wednesday during a trip to Somerset, Massachusetts, sources familiar with his plans told Reuters.

The announcement is unlikely to include the declaration of a climate emergency, which would enable the use of the Defense Production Act to ramp up production of a wide range of renewable energy products and systems.

Senate Democrats and environmental groups have been calling for such a declaration in light of news that Democratic Senator Joe Manchin was not ready to support key climate provisions in Congress.

A White House official said on Tuesday that Biden has made it clear that if the Senate did not act, he will. "We are considering all options and no decision has been made," the official said on condition of anonymity.

Biden campaigned on tough action on climate change in his presidential campaign and pledged in international climate negotiations to cut climate pollution by 50 percent by 2030 and reach 100 percent clean electricity by 2035.

But his climate agenda has been derailed by several major setbacks, including clinching enough congressional support to pass crucial climate and clean energy measures in a federal budget bill, record-setting gasoline prices and global energy market disruption caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The Supreme Court, in a decision issued earlier this month, also signaled that federal agencies cannot undertake major policy action on climate and other areas without express consent from Congress.

Democrats are discussing the path forward for major climate action on Capitol Hill today, said Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Carper didn't answer a question about Biden declaring a climate emergency but said he thinks there are other issues the Senate could move forward on, including methane emission reduction and tax provisions for nuclear power and carbon capture and sequestration.

(Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw and Valerie Volcovici; additional reporting by David Morgan, Doina Chiacu and Nandita Bose; editing by Chris Gallagher, Doina Chiacu and Jonathan Oatis)