Where will Joe Manchin land on Democrats’ $3.5T Green New Deal remix?
In a split U.S. Senate, no man has received more attention than West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin. A Democrat in a state that went Republican by nearly 40 points, Manchin gets an earful from all sides. Earlier this year, The New Yorker called him “The Man Who Controls The Senate,” while the Washington Examiner dubbed him the “Captain of the Senate.”
Turn on any West Virginia television or radio station and odds are high that an advertisement will hit the airwaves targeting Manchin. He has been a financial boon for media companies in the Mountain State. If only all his constituents were similarly enriched from his presence.
With Congress back from recess with a daunting legislative agenda, Manchin can wield his status as a lynchpin vote to enormous effect. High atop that list is the $3.5 trillion dollar spending bill up for debate on Capitol Hill.
To date, Manchin has been a firm “no” on the legislation, which has morphed into the “crown jewel” of the left’s climate agenda. And for good reason. The enormous price-tag aside, too many aspects of this plan are remixes of the Green New Deal under a new name. It calls for the United States to generate 80 percent of its power from clean energy sources and cut carbon emissions in half by 2030. As chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and an elected representative from West Virginia — the nation’s fifth-largest energy producer responsible for providing about 5 percent of the nation’s total energy — opposing this bill should be a no-brainer for Manchin.
With these types of policies at the national level, it is no wonder that Democrats in West Virginia have gone from the overwhelming majority to practically extinct.
Manchin is correct when he questions the Clean Electricity Performance Program, which is nothing but a new green tax on families. Independent studies have shown that forcing every electric provider in the country to switch to unreliable wind and solar causes electric bills to quickly rise. Look no further than the skyrocketing energy prices in Europe for the consequences of over-reliance on wind power.
There is a reason Manchin has overcome the odds to keep the office he remains in today. Who can forget the television advertisement in 2010 when he shot President Obama’s cap and trade bill? It was one of the lasting moments of that campaign season, propelling Manchin to a comfortable win amid a national Democratic wipeout.
His folksy “aw shucks” persona makes for good copy for national profiles, but his voting record leaves a lot to be desired. Despite the shellacking that President Biden suffered in his state, Manchin has voted for 100 percent of his agenda, including every Cabinet nominee. He has supported the controversial Bureau of Land Management nominee Tracy Stone Manning.
Manchin wants people to believe he is above blind partisanship. That should concern the 30,000 West Virginians who work in the logging industry.
Most importantly, Manchin must remember he represents a state full of hard-working people who follow the rules. They don’t have lobbyists, let alone houseboats dubbed “Washington’s hottest club” to host swanky parties with powerful friends, as Manchin does.
The environmental special interests have sent millions to Biden and they want a return on their investment — it seems even if families lose their job and have to pay more for the essentials. In the past decade, West Virginia’s population declined more than 3 percent. Former President Obama promised to bankrupt the coal industry. Biden callously told coal miners to learn to code.
But West Virginians keep Manchin employed. He is supposed to stand for their interests, not the special interests in the swamp of D.C. So far, Manchin has succeeded in making the case that he stands for their values. The negotiations over the $3.5 trillion bill are going to put that theory to a major stress test. Let’s hope Manchin stands his ground — for his sake and West Virginia’s.
Daniel Turner is the founder and executive director of Power The Future, a national nonprofit organization that advocates for American energy jobs. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @DanielTurnerPTF