MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan recently unearthed a clip in which Manchin endorsed, all on his lonesome, an appropriately robust infrastructure investment—up to $4 trillion. And strangely enough, at the time, he wasn’t worried about inflation so much as the significant opportunity costs of not passing meaningful infrastructure legislation.
HASAN: “According to Axios, Manchin is privately telling the White House he might only back as little as $1 trillion in spending. Manchin will tell whoever’s listening that he’s worried about debt and deficits. But, hey, Joe Manchin, this you?”
MANCHIN (CLIP): “The most important thing, do … big infrastructure. Spend $2, $3, $4 trillion over a 10-year period on infrastructure. You want to put everybody back to work? There’s a lot of people that lost their jobs, but those jobs aren’t coming back. They need a place to work and make a living. Every state can start an infrastructure program.”
HASAN: “What a difference eight months can make.”
So what’s changed? Since this interview aired on Jan. 19, Congress passed President Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. But that was about keeping our country’s head above water in the midst of a still-raging pandemic. The rest of Biden’s economic plan is decidedly forward-thinking. Maybe Manchin needs to explain to his constituents, whose lives would be significantly improved by this bill, what exactly he doesn’t like about it.
Or maybe he just needs to explain to those constituents—who will be working in industries other than coal sooner or later no matter what President Biden and the Democrats do—why greening the economy is apparently a far less urgent priority than greening his own wallet.
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