Inside the rotunda of the West Virginia statehouse in downtown Charleston stands about a nine-foot statue of the late U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd, who represented the Mountain State in the Senate for 51 years until his death in 2010 – the longest-serving U.S. senator in history. Sen. Byrd was declared West Virginia’s “Man of the Century” when the statue was dedicated in his 80th year in 1997; that is, he was still alive.
Maybe there should be a statue made of his Senate successor, Joe Manchin.
Okay, maybe that’s premature. Nonetheless, Sen. Manchin this week again just punctured the Democratic Party’s proverbial balloon of a climate change agenda.
Specifically, the Biden administration and Democrats in Congress have long sought to enact prohibitions on off-shore drilling, create a “Civilian Climate Corps,” force replacement of coal- and gas-fired power plants with wind and solar power (regardless how impractical and fruitless), and create more tax breaks for electric vehicle purchases and alternative energy use. Even a more limited package of proposals is now off the table, thanks to Sen. Manchin.
Democrats in the 100-member Senate have the smallest majority possible at 50 members plus Vice President Kamala Harris with a tie-breaking vote. They were hoping to pass a federal budget that added $1 trillion in new spending for these climate initiatives and other goodies, combined with higher taxes, before the November elections. The timing suggests their spending plans were less about the purported “climate crisis” and more about appeasing and soliciting their donors tied to wind, solar and electric vehicle companies.
This spending and climate agenda is a climbdown of sorts from President Biden’s Build Back Better plan that Sen. Manchin deep-sixed last December, which was double in size. Among Sen. Manchin’s reasons for opposing that larger bill is the growing consumer price inflation partly due to massive overspending by the federal government.
Inflation since then has only gotten worse and is now increasing at an annual rate of 9.1 percent according to figures just released by the U.S. Department of Labor. A spokesman for Sen. Manchin summed it up by saying congressional leaders need to “reevaluate and adjust to the economic realities the country faces to avoid taking steps that add fuel to the inflation fire.”
In addition, it is worth reminding those legislators and mavens from the Climate Industrial Complex who are caterwauling about Sen. Manchin puncturing this reckless agenda: he represents an fossil fuel-producing state, with coal mining, hydro-fracturing and other energy jobs totaling nearly 40,000 people, plus thousands more in ancillary positions to these industries. Is their elected representative in the U.S. Senate supposed to usher them to the unemployment line?
Senator Manchin appears to be the only Democratic member of Congress who genuinely notices inflation, the likes of which have not been experienced by Americans in 41 years. While the average increase in overall prices has jumped 9 percent in the last year, key items have risen much higher during this period, including gasoline (60%), fuel oil (98.5%), food (12%) and new vehicles (11%).
With added inflation has come reduced real wages and earnings of American workers and a months-long stock market crash of more than 20 percent, which has lowered the wealth of American households, including middle and working class families saving for retirement.
Solving inflation necessitates controlling federal spending – meaning, Congress must stop “borrowing” newly minted money by the Federal Reserve, which cheapens the currency. It also requires increasing domestic energy production and raising interest rates to slow the economy until excess demand reaches an aggregate economic equilibrium with consumer supply.
The Fed has belatedly begun raising interest rates. But, there is not even a scintilla of thought by President Biden to increase domestic energy, even as he perversely pleads with Saudi Arabia as I write—and other nations hostile to the U.S.—to produce more oil to lower the global price.
Furthermore, the U.S. Congress has zero interest in controlling spending, no matter how many fake dollars are printed to finance their climate fiction and other political goals. This, after an unprecedented $6 trillion in new spending has been added to the federal budget in the last two years.
While climate change policies and excessive federal spending have demonstrably fueled inflation and damaged the livelihoods of every American, Sen. Joe Manchin stands alone within the ruling Party in Washington to prevent exacerbating this economic crisis. His solitary stance for climate and budgetary sanity at this moment makes a mockery of claims by other Democrats who pretend to be “moderates” who look out for the little guy.
If Sen. Manchin can hold firm against further damage to the country, he just might deserve his own statue someday.
- Peter Murphy is Senior Fellow at CFACT.
- He has researched and advocated for a variety of policy issues, including education reform and fiscal policy, both in the non-profit sector and in government in the administration of former New York Governor George Pataki.
- He previously wrote and edited The Chalkboard weblog for the NY Charter Schools Association, and has been published in numerous media outlets, including The Hill, New York Post, Washington Times and the Wall Street Journal. Twitter: @PeterMurphy26 Website: https://www.petermurphylgs.com/
July 16, 2022