After Years of Tanking Climate Action and Anti-Poverty Measures, Manchin Announces Exit From Senate

Yves here. While this post reflects the “Ding, dong, the witch is dead” school of thought regarding Manchin choosing to pack it in for good as a Senator (although lousy poll numbers no doubt helped), his departure does pose problems for corporate Democrats. However, Manchin was an anomaly. Republicans have rock solid control of state government. From Balletopedia:

West Virginia has a Republican trifecta and a Republican triplex. The Republican Party controls the offices of governor, secretary of state, attorney general, and both chambers of the state legislature.

And in Congress, Manchin is the lone Democrat from West Virginia. West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito is a Republican, as are the state’s three Representatives. So it is hardly a surprise that Manchin often acted like a Republican. It would be a condition of political survival. That isn’t to say he didn’t actually lean that way.

Having said that, Team Dem did much better than expected yesterday. I attribute that significantly to the Republicans refusing them to distance themselves from an hard-core anti abortion stance. That is not going to change between now and November 2024.

A few observations from the Twitterverse:

By Julia Conley, staff writer at Common Dreams. Originally published at Common Dreams

Progressives on Thursday were unsurprised to hear that right-wing Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin has decided not to seek reelection next year, following recent polling that showed him 13 points behind Republican Gov. Jim Justice—but expressed frustration over the conservative senator’s legacy of tanking the Democratic Party’s agenda as leaders insisted he was the only Democrat who could possibly win the approval of voters in his home state of West Virginia.

After Manchin released a video announcing he will retire from the Senate seat he’s held since 2010, former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner (D) noted that economic justice and rights advocates have long been told they “had to sacrifice every progressive reform so we could hold on to a blue seat in West Virginia.”

“Now, he’s vacating the seat,” said Turner.

The senator has outraged progressives in recent years by refusing to join his party in backing broadly popular reforms. He made numerous demands to reduce the anti-poverty and climate provisions in President Joe Biden’s signature Build Back Better Act in 2021 before finally killing the bill over its inclusion of the expanded child tax credit—a program that more than 300,000 children in his own state benefited from before it expired but that Manchin falsely claimedwould be used by parents to buy drugs.

He also joined Republicans in 2022 to block legislation codifying abortion rights months before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and helped the GOP push to include language in a debt limit deal this year that would expedite the construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) in his state. Local advocates have denounced the project, which could lead to fossil fuel emissions equivalent to dozens of coal-fired power plants.

The state, said Denali Nalamalapu, communications director of the Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights Coalition, is now witnessing “firsthand the repercussions of Sen. Joe Manchin’s insatiable greed.”

“During his time in office, Manchin served the fossil fuel industry and lined his pockets with the payoff,” said Nalamalapu. “While he parades around his ‘victory’ in fast-tracking MVP construction, his real climate legacy is the mortal threat to Appalachians and the planet posed by the unnecessary, reckless, fracked gas project.”

Nalamalapu expressed hope that West Virginians may ultimately be represented by “a climate champion who will serve their interests in the broader global shift towards a renewable future, not a robber baron who scurries away once he has maxed out his political fossil fuel profits.”

Manchin suggested his political career may not be over as he said he will be “traveling the country and speaking out to see if there is an interest in creating a movement to mobilize the middle and bring Americans together”—which former U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro translated as: “Stay tuned. I want to run for president.”

Progressive strategist Sawyer Hackett noted that Manchin’s objection to the expanded child tax credit was a significant factor when the child poverty rate shot up last year, following an historic reduction that was attributed to the initiative.

“Not a great legacy to kickstart a long-shot bid for president,” said Hackett.

Daniel Nichanian, editor-in-chief of Bolts, said that without Manchin, Democrats must now ensure they hold onto Senate seats in a number of states in order to maintain their slim majority.

But with Manchin likely to lose to Justice if he had sought reelection, Nichanian added, “it’s a stretch to describe Manchin’s retirement as a huge change to the Senate math for 2024.”

Author and co-founder Bill McKibben said Manchin’s exit marks the start of another race: “to see who will replace him as the biggest collector of campaign cash from the oil and gas industry.”

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  1. Taufiq Al-Thawry

    “were there not a Manchin, we’d have to invent a Manchin”
    – Joe Biden (not quite a real quote)

    While I hate me some Joe Manchin, I think if it wasn’t him to tank the policy proposals of the democratic president he didn’t want to padd, someone else would have stepped up to be the fall guy, as did Sinema. It allows for a “hate the individual, not the party” approach to doing nothing for the dems

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Tim Kaine is my bet. He’s repulsive and dimwitted enough to be Hillary Clinton’s running mate. Now he has covid brain worms.

    2. Lefty Godot

      In the unlikely circumstance that the Democrats ever have a majority in the Senate after 2024, there will always be 2-3 more senators taking on the Manchin-Sinema role and preventing “progressive” legislation. The whole party is geared toward that outcome and generally reveres and rewards those who perform the necessary blocking actions (think of the Nelson twins and Joe Lieberman in previous Congresses). As Thomas Frank said about Clinton and Obama, they didn’t use the bully pulpit to push for progressive changes because they never wanted those changes in the first place.

      Somebody needs to get on Kickstarter and get funding for a Real Democratic party to compete with the fake one we have now. A party that is pro-labor, anti-monopoly, high progressive tax rates on the wealthy, help for the working class, and opposition to foreign wars (and, really, to foreign “aid” in general, since it’s almost always used to prop up dictatorial regimes under the pretence of liberalizing them). Drop the woke baloney and other elite fashion preoccupations. The Real Democrats could even let the fake ones take them to court for that name, because it would bring a boatload of free publicity.

      1. Rolf

        Somebody needs to get on Kickstarter and get funding for a Real Democratic party to compete with the fake one we have now. A party that is pro-labor, anti-monopoly, high progressive tax rates on the wealthy, help for the working class, and opposition to foreign wars (and, really, to foreign “aid” in general, since it’s almost always used to prop up dictatorial regimes under the pretence of liberalizing them). Drop the woke baloney and other elite fashion preoccupations. The Real Democrats could even let the fake ones take them to court for that name, because it would bring a boatload of free publicity.

        Now that’s some funding I’d contribute to. And while the Fake and Feckless Democrats are busy with their lawsuit over the party name, the Real Democratic Party’s should countersue the FFDP for impersonating public servants: as they clearly don’t act in anything resembling the interests of most Americans.

      2. steppenwolf fetchit

        It could call itself the Real Democrat Party. It would need a powerful Intelligence-CounterIntelligence Bureau or Division to guard against Clintonite-Obamazoid-DLC-Hamilton Project-etc. moles from sneaking into it and worming their way in and up as Sleeper Moles until given the order from their Clintobama controllers and spyrunners and etc. to begin the destruction-from-within process.

        It might have to deny membership altogether to anyone with any detectable trace of Clinton etc. links and ties.

        It might have to be a fee-based membership party which would be unfortunate for people with zero money to pay for a membership. But how else does one keep it from becoming a DNC-type private high-handed self-dealing club?

        1. Lefty Godot

          I think you would just have to make the core platform of the Real Democratic party so toxic to Clinton-Obama-Biden types that they could never sign off on it.

          Some obvious things: make America great again by raising the top tax rate to 89%, like it was in the happy days of the Eisenhower administration. Disallow all deductions (and credits that were not explicitly offsetting a specific related line item) on income over $25 million. Raise the cap on Social Security tax to $5 million. Create an Excess Profit and Executive Compensation tax (or very hefty civil penalty) graded on how essential the industry in question was (like very high on medical care and pharmaceuticals, not very high on consumer frills and silly fashion goods). Reinstate the Glass-Steagall restrictions on banking. Maybe amendments to reverse Citizens United (explicitly stating that money donations are not a type of free expression under the 1st Amendment) and to declare that corporate “personhood” will always be subordinate to rights of natural persons in any conflict between the two. A substantial offshoring tax. Close 1/3 of our (750) overseas military bases and cut the military budget by 1/3 also, probably with changes to military procurement and audit rules. Maybe even a National Prosperity Dividend to every citizen (because we can’t call it a Guaranteed Income).

          A lot of similar things could be added, but you get the idea.

          1. steppenwolf fetchit

            I think you would have to watch for deep-cover and false-flag Clintobama-Biden types pretending to sign off on the Real Democrat agenda so they could mole their way into any such Real Democrat Party which emerges and work their way up to a position of influence and power and then begin to pervert, subvert and Clintaminate it from their on-the-inside positions of influence and control.

            Mere “toxicity of platform” will not prevent Clintobama-Biden types from infiltrating a Real Democrat Party in order to poison it and destroy it.

            A Real Democrat Party will need a bureau of intelligence and counter-intelligence to vet every single person seeking to join and rigidly exclude any would-be entrant with any tainted-association or any links-and-ties to any Clintobama-Bidenites. A Real Democrat Party should take very seriously the threat that Clintobama-Bidenites would pose and should understand their true nature as the human equivalent of HIV and Coronavid viruses and cancer cells. A Real Democrat Party which fails to understand that basic fact and keep itself unClintaminated by their presence will be destroyed from within by their stealthy mole tapeworm spirochete presence.

            The Core Platform is a good Core Platform. I would add the rejection of all Free Trade Agreements and the resignation from all Free Trade Organizations, so we could protect ourselves against organized worldwide efforts to prevent application of the rest of the Good Platform.

    3. Kurtismayfield

      Someone had to be the pall so that the ratchet could not move one inch to the left. If it isn’t Tester, it is Manchin. If it isn’t Manchin, its Simena. There will always be a pall.

  2. nippersdad

    I wonder if there is any backbiting within the caucus now that the Democratic party has completely lost West Virginia. Bernie Sanders won every precinct there in ’16, and they had a House candidate (cannot remember her name) that was just famously RFed by the party and subsequently ran as a Green in ’20.

    No bench at all, and they only have themselves to blame for it. I have never thought West Virginia would be that hard to make inroads into but they are not the present target demographics the Democratic party is seeking, and getting looked down upon is always fatal.

  3. Laura in So Cal

    He’ll be 77 next year so no matter what his politics are, it shouldn’t be noteworthy that he has chosen to not run for re-election. The fact that it IS noteworthy is a travesty. What happened with Feinstein and is happening to
    Biden & McConnell is awful. Our politicians aren’t supposed to be like royalty who “hold office” until they die.

    The normal people around me want to retire as soon as possible because their work is hard, tiring, and consumes their life. I think our politicians aren’t working very hard.

  4. steppenwolf fetchit

    I have to start work in a few minutes so I can’t watch the Exxon Lobbyist Video until later sometime. But just looking at the photo, it looks like the lobbyist could be Black if he wants to be. If so, I suppose this is the Rainbow Oligarchy Diversity and Representation of which Obama would be so proud and which Wall Street Progressives and Goldman Sachs Feminists would tell us is Representation. Adolph Reed would not be impressed. It would be a victory for the sort of progressivism which tells us that it is only fair that there should be just as many Drug Queenpins as Drug Kingpins.

  5. Randy

    Manchin is a Republican in the Democrat party. He will retire and cost the Democrat party their Senate majority. He will be replaced by a real Republican who will vote just like Manchin did and now the Republicans will have the Senate majority.

    The more things change the more they stay the same. SMFH.

    I have the Apolitical Blues.

  6. eg

    Good riddance. So who among the long roster of corporate Dems will take over his role as designated spoiler of legislation which might in any way provide concrete material benefits to working people?

  7. Fastball

    People like Manchin and the people who hide behind him to stuff their pockets with lucre are why, when the Communist Revolution this country is begging for finally occurs, the death sentence for bribery over a certain amount needs to be passed into law — along with making shenanigans like his classified as such. That goes for anyone like him. (Clarence Thomas, I’m looking at you).

    That’s what will REALLY get money out of politics, not the liberal hand wringing and lamentation.

    1. JBird4049

      While the death penalty for real bribery, not the cartoonishly restricted version approved by the Supreme Court, is very tempting, and would be a salutary punishment, I think that the successful multi generational efforts of the kind that started just before the Progressive Movement would be better.

      It is a sour feeling thinking that it would two generations later that would completely benefit, but realistically, it took something like forty years work for the successful movement. IIRC, it was built upon the failures of previous generations. Really, a work of maybe sixty years from misfire to a successful conclusion.

      We could have a President-for-Life take charge and make the reforms much more quickly, but a functional society with a working democracy that is not controlled by a bloodstained monster has to work slowly, with persistent and patience. It has been a process of sixty years getting to this mess.

    2. Paul Art

      No no. Not yet by a very long margin. We do yet have the ‘savage capitalism’ Stalin remarked upon when asked why the Communist Revolution succeeded only in Russia and failed elsewhere. The Corporations and the 0.1% are being very careful in heeding to the lessons of past Gilded ages.

    1. steppenwolf fetchit

      Well, I heard on NPR about how Manchin is going to travel the country on a “listening tour” to see how much, if any, support there is for a “third party” to “mobilize the middle” or the “center” or whatever. His wounded pride and deep vanity will lead him to try running on the No Labels ticket if he and/or his backers can possibly engineer it.

  8. Pavel

    Slightly OT but I did enjoy how Vivek ended the Repub debate by challenging Biden to step aside now from the 2024 contest as “everyone knows” he will not be the final candidate. I have been saying this to friends for months now and the way the MSM pretends he is a viable nominee is becoming more ludicrous by the day.

    Biden is so ornery and stubborn (and perhaps Jill too power-crazed) to volunteer to do so IMO, so they’ll have to push him — figuratively only, of course, and not literally down the Air Force One baby staircase!

  9. jackiebass63

    In my opinion he was what I call a moderate republican. These people were abandoned by republicans so they ran on the democrat ticket so they could be elected.It didn’t take long for me to realize he wasn’t a true democrat. There are actually quite a few like him in congress. Probably the biggest reason the Democratic Party has changed to be more like the Republican Party. The country actually needs a third party to represent the huge number of people not represented by either party.

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