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Sen. Manchin Can Stop $3.5T in Wasteful Spending

“I can’t explain why my Democratic colleagues are rushing to spend $3.5 trillion.”

That was Senator Joe Manchin earlier this month in the Wall Street Journal.

As the senator himself argues in the commentary, if he can’t explain why, then he should vote no.

No explanation has been offered by his colleagues in the ensuing days. And there is no prospect of one appearing in the coming weeks, for the simple reason that there is no justification for wasting $3.5 trillion on a partisan grab bag designed to reward political cronies, raise your taxes, and expand the reach of government ever more into the lives of West Virginians.

Manchin has promised he won’t support the $3.5 trillion spending level in Senator Bernie Sanders budget proposal, though he has hedged otherwise, laying out a series of conditions he says must be met before he could support any spending bill south of that figure.

While talks continue, it’s not clear how effective that strategy will be in persuading his colleagues to reduce the size of the package.

Senate leaders have already rejected his call for a “strategic pause” in consideration of the measure, which under special procedural rules is immune to filibuster and would require only 50 votes for passage (with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking any tie).

Manchin, who is that 50th vote, should forget about trying to save this legislative monstrosity from itself, state flatly that he will oppose the measure, and insist, as he has written, that leaders start over “by significantly reducing the size of any possible reconciliation bill to only what America can afford and needs to spend.”

In other words, he should keep his promise to the people of West Virginia to stand up against extreme partisan policies, at $3.5 trillion or any other figure, like the ones that permeate Sanders’ proposal:

Nearly $1 trillion for “clean” energy projects, much of which resembles the Green New Deal.

This wasteful spending is designed to use government mandates to replace consumer preferences with politically preferred technologies and fuels, driving up costs, damaging the U.S. economy, killing West Virginia jobs, and hurting the most vulnerable citizens.

Massive new taxes on energy, including a carbon border tax that would hurt American farmers, manufacturers, and small businesses without helping the environment.

A California-style electricity standard that would dramatically increase energy costs for all Americans and violate the president’s own pledge not to increase taxes on people making less than $400,000.

Subsidies for electric vehicles that benefit the affluent buyers of those cars, paid for with taxes on middle-class West Virginians.

Taxpayer giveaways to big insurance companies so they can subsidize health insurance for families earning as much as half a million dollars a year.

And that’s just a small sampling of the mounds of waste contained in the Sanders budget proposal, being passed off as “human infrastructure.”

Again, our senator in his own words: “Over the past 18 months, we’ve spent more than $5 trillion responding to the coronavirus pandemic. Now Democratic congressional leaders propose to pass the largest single spending bill in history with no regard to rising inflation, crippling debt or the inevitability of future crises. Ignoring the fiscal consequences of our policy choices will create a disastrous future for the next generation of Americans.”

Sanders’ spending plan aims to radically reshape the relationship between the government and the American people. Manchin is the senator who can stop this disaster.

He should.

Jason Huffman is state director of Americans for Prosperity-West Virginia.

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