Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) just offered a bipartisan tutorial in pathetic leadership. They demonstrated precisely how not to behave while holding positions of influence and authority.
Manchin made a complete fool of himself over the issue of permit reform, which would have made it easier to gain government approval for oil and gas pipelines and other energy projects. This would have benefited his home state, America’s Coal Central Station.
Manchin spent most of President Joe Biden’s term fighting his massive Build Back Better spending orgy. Manchin correctly argued that BBB’s $3.5 trillion price tag was too high. Also, its Green New Deal elements were anathema to West Virginia, which was built atop a mass grave of dinosaurs. These fossils had the good taste to turn themselves into fuel.
But last July 27, Manchin suddenly agreed to support the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), in essence Build Back Smaller. Its $739 billion in spending increases and tax hikes was obscene, yes, but it wasn’t BBB’s XXX-rated fiscal porn.
Manchin swallowed and accepted the IRA’s corporate welfare and consumer freebies for electric vehicles, windmills, solar panels, and all other talismans of the Climatarian faith. In exchange, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) promised Manchin a vote on permit reform. Manchin hoped to grease the skids for the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which would carry West Virginia’s natural gas into Virginia and on to methane-hungry downstream markets.
So, Manchin voted “yes” on the IRA, as did all 49 other Senate Democrats. Every Republican voted “no.” Cackling Vice President Kamala Harris split the 50–50 tie. The bill passed and cleared the House on a party-line vote. Biden signed it into law on Aug. 16.
Manchin was eager to get paid for his game-changing IRA vote. It was all set to go down this week as the Senate considered a continuing resolution to fund the federal government past Friday’s end of fiscal year 2022.
And then the whole thing imploded.
Manchin blew it.
“Manchin violated every single rule,” my friend of 40 years, Quin Hillyer, explained in the Washington Examiner on Wednesday. He continued:
He (1) allowed big spending and taxes merely for a promise. The promise was (2) not specific and not in writing but vague. The eventual details, even on the alleged win for his side, as they emerged, were (3) hardly satisfactory to Republicans, because, as the Wall Street Journal explained at length, they would in many ways (4) worsen the situation for the fossil fuel industry everywhere but West Virginia.
And fifth, Manchin trusted Schumer — his dumbest move of all.
Schumer duped Manchin, who was easier to play than a tourist who lost a game of three-card monte in Times Square. Schumer had no interest in permit reform and was in no rush to make Manchin’s pipeline pipe dream come true.
If Manchin had a subway fare’s worth of street smarts, he would have told Schumer this:
Listen, Chuck, and listen good: If you want my vote on the IRA, here’s what’s gonna happen. Let me introduce permit reform first. Next, you whip our fellow Democrats into voting “yes.” If my bill passes, I’ll vote for the whole thing, and you win. But if my bill fails, I’ll vote against the IRA, and your cute little measure takes a dirt nap. Got it?
Had Manchin played tough with Schumer, the IRA plus permit reform would have passed the Senate.
What did McConnell get in return for this gorgeous gift to Schumer? You guessed it: Nothing!
Then, House Democrats would have had to decide: Did they want the IRA, with its juicy goodies and the permit reform that they hate? Or would they kill permit reform and, with it, all those finger-lickin’-good trinkets, slush funds, and red tape?
House Democrats would have chomped into wooden spoons, accepted permit reform as the price for the Green New Inflation Reduction Act, and solemnly said, “Amen!”
Manchin has been a United States senator since November 2010. I am not a senator. And yet, of the two of us, I am the one who figured this out.
West Virginians deserve a senator less gullible and boneheaded than “Gipped Joe” Manchin. In 2024, they should go to the polls and fit him for cement boots.
For his part, McConnell blew away on Tuesday like a gum wrapper in a hurricane.
McConnell had the leverage to deny Schumer the votes needed to pass a continuing resolution to fund Washington past midnight Friday. Schumer craved a spending bill that ran through mid-December, whereupon a lame-duck Senate would step in and impersonate Santa Claus.
If Democrats keep the Senate in November, they could get a head start on massive outlays before next year. If Republicans win the Senate, Democrats would have a final chance to give Americans a booster of Big Government socialism, good and hard, before a GOP takeover in January. (READ MORE: A Contract to Defeat Big Government Socialism)
McConnell let Schumer have his way.
And what did McConnell get in return for this gorgeous gift to Schumer?
You guessed it: Nothing!
As President Donald J. Trump’s longtime policy adviser Stephen Miller repeatedly pleaded: McConnell should have demanded a continuing resolution through Feb. 1 — beyond the wingspans of lame ducks — and insisted on adding this sentence: “No federal funds shall be spent to relocate illegal aliens away from the southern border.”
Alternatively, McConnell could have added, “No federal funds shall be spent to hire 87,000 new IRS agents, as established in the IRA.”
Or: “No federal funds shall be spent by the IRA’s 87,000 new IRS agents to audit any taxpayer who earns less than $400,000 annually.”
Any of those votes would have forced Democrats out of their bunkers and into the open. If they voted “yes,” then hallelujah. If they voted “no,” the GOP would force the Big Media to discuss Democratic recklessness on the “border,” lust for new IRS agents, and desire to unleash these agents against middle-class taxpayers.
Win, win, win for the GOP!
Such an outcome was too positive for McConnell, who fights like a shark for constitutionalist judges and, on everything else, flops around like a squid on a drippy dock. Schumer feasted and then handed Republicans the bill — exactly as happened last fall, when McConnell twice delivered GOP votes to raise the federal debt ceiling and, in return, secured gusts of derisive laughter from the Senate Democratic cloakroom.
Whether or not incoming Republicans control the Senate, they must catapult this invertebrate into the Chesapeake and elect a leader whose first name is “Tough.”
As for McConnell, he will fit in perfectly with the soft-shell crabs.
Deroy Murdock is a Fox News Contributor and a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research.