Joe Manchin's Heel Turn
How unexpected, and how costly!
Joe Manchin is not a particularly trustworthy fellow when it comes to holding the line on certain things, so it is rather unsurprising that with the upcoming midterms, he would try to maximize his opportunity to dictate an entire piece of legislation. His performance in this moment has led to Kyrsten Sinema being thrust into the limelight, as negotiations that took place largely left her out of the loop.
Democrats are desperate for a win here to try and right the ship before November, but they are racing against the reality that when people know what’s in this bill, they’re less likely to approve of it. It raises taxes on taxpayers making less than $200k, hits American manufacturing hard with its new tax scheme, and contains no net deficit reduction for five years. Other than that, it’s fine.
Michael Shellenberger has more:
As such, if Democrats pass the legislation, and President Joe Biden signs it into law, it would violate the promise President Joe Biden made not to increase taxes on Americans earning less than $400,000 per year. Biden reaffirmed this promise during his State of the Union Address in March of this Year. “And under my plan, nobody earning less than $400,000 a year will pay an additional penny in new taxes. Nobody.
Democrats say that Schumer-Manchin isn’t really a tax increase because the higher taxes would be indirectly passed on to employees by corporations required to pay the new 15% minimum tax by reducing their after-tax wages. It’s a “bogus argument,” said Steve Rosenthal, senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center, of the tax increase. Rosenthal said that anybody pointing it out was engaging in “a gotcha kind of thing.”
But neither Rosenthal nor anybody else is questioning the assumptions made by the Joint Committee on Taxation, which calculated the tax increases. It is standard economic practice to assume that companies would pass along at least some of their tax increase to employees.
And the Joint Committee is a widely respected and nonpartisan committee that is staffed by Ph.D economists, accountants, and attorneys and has been in existence for nearly 100 years and is trusted by members of Congress from both parties. Moreover, its analyses is supported by a calculation by the National Association of Manufacturers, which calculates that the higher taxes would reduce reduce workers’ income income by $17 billion and GDP by $69 billion.
Economists have long observed that taxes on corporations are passed on to workers, customers, and shareholders. If the goal is to reduce income disparities then one must raise taxes more on people earning higher incomes than on people earning lower ones, and the Schumer-Manchin legislation does not do this.
One interesting piece will be if the amendment process is allowed to play out, and certain things get cut or stay in. We’ve seen Manchin play with this scenario before:
In Midterms, Abortion Doesn’t Play For Democrats
Abortion’s importance as a voting issue has increased from three years ago, when a Post-ABC poll found 14 percent saying it was one of the top factors in their presidential vote.
When it comes to the Supreme Court’s June ruling, 65 percent view the decision as a major loss of women’s rights, while 35 percent say it is not. Among those certain they will vote, 58 percent say it represents a loss of women’s rights, while 42 percent say it does not. And a slight majority of certain voters support a federal law allowing abortion before a fetus can survive outside the womb.
But the poll also provides evidence of an enthusiasm problem for Democrats: Those who reject the idea that the court’s ruling is a loss for women are 18 percentage points more likely to express certainty they will vote in the midterms — 70 percent compared with 52 percent of those who do see such a loss, according to the Post-Schar School poll conducted July 22 to 24.
Democrats and women, especially younger women, are particularly uncertain they will vote. About 1 in 3 women under 40 are sure they will cast a ballot even as they have strong concerns about rollbacks in abortion access.
“Is the discontent with Democratic Party leadership and policies generally so deep that those most affected by the court decision … still plan to sit out this election?” said Mark Rozell, dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, who worked on the poll. “I struggle to wrap my head around this disconnect.”
UNC’s Bad Settlement With NHJ
There is no evidence that Hannah-Jones was wronged by this process in any way—quite the contrary, she was benefiting from all sorts of privilege that most academics do not have early in their careers, privilege they need to earn instead. No regular faculty member walks into a full tenured professorship as their very first academic job. Indeed, in the glutted marketplace of academic job-seekers, Hannah-Jones happened into an offer that almost any qualified applicant with actual research outputs and teaching experience would have considered akin to winning the lottery—even before tenure was appended to the offer.
Nonetheless, Hannah-Jones declined the job, instead accepting a separate offer to become the inaugural Knight Chair in Race and Journalism at the Howard University School of Communications, where she also founded the Center for Journalism and Democracy.
You might think that would be the end of it, but you’d be wrong. What followed could only have been the result of an easily panicked University of North Carolina Board of Trustees coming into the gaze of a litigious grifter. Hannah-Jones’s attorneys threatened to bring suit. On what rational grounds? Who knows. But where in this story is rationality to be found?
As a recently announced settlement reveals, she fleeced UNC out of a healthy $75,000 payment. What did that buy the university? She promised not to sue them. As if the short con wasn’t enough, she showed up with two fistfuls of salt for UNC’s wounds.
It turns out the $75,000 wasn’t quite enough. As part of her settlement, she somehow managed to secure a bunch of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) sinecures for 20 university administrators. Per the agreement, these bureaucrats will be attached to hiring committees for new university employees. They will “receive a stipend to serve as consultants or participants” in hiring searches. The terms of Hannah-Jones’s deal also direct UNC to make a new hire for something called a “trauma-informed therapist within the Multicultural Health Program,” as if to signal atonement for Hannah-Jones’s claims of mental anguish over an insufficiently generous hiring offer in the initial round. Another clause dedicates an annual payout of $5,000 to pay for “meetings, events, and symposia” hosted by an activist organization for university faculty and staff.
These are not minor expenditures for the university to absorb, particularly given that Hannah-Jones incurred no recognizable harm from her bid for a tenure commitment. These monetary outlays may be the price of avoiding further litigation, but they must also come from somewhere. In the end, the only people who are harmed by her self-serving behavior, and the university’s cowardice, are students who must pay for this nonsense as part of their tuition, and the taxpayers of North Carolina, who had better get used to this sort of thing moving forward.
Courage, American Style
Taking an evening walk with my son and dogs around a park near our home, I watched as a boy and girl — probably around eight or nine years old — rode their bikes through the grass and down a slope steep enough that in winter makes for a black-diamond sledding hill. Both were barefoot and without helmets. The girl’s long, golden hair carried by the breeze was the last I saw as the pair peddled furiously out of view. I looked around. No parents. No nanny. No park overseer waiting to scold them for enjoying the day’s lingering sunset with such reckless abandon. I smiled at the thought that even in this time of safety-at-all-cost there were these two kids unaware of the cynical fearful world beyond the park. Then it made me sad. I wasn’t mournful in a sense of passing nostalgia, but in realizing these kids were an endangered species. And if the government and emboldened neighborhood scolds had their way, they would be extinct.
It’s stunning how many people slip into the temptations of authoritarianism when the government and corporate interests sell it as “for your own protection.” This is not surprising, though, considering America has now come of age when these entities have taken the place of religion. We live and die by its diktats. But the difference — subtle to the unquestioning believer, but glaring to the skeptic — is that this altar built by men to worship man is one that sacrifices individuality and freedom for control and fear.
When America retreats to the shadows of fear and sacrifices the most vulnerable in society for selfish acts of self-preservation, there can be no room for heroics. The coward despises the hero because it exposes him for the recreant conformist he is: a person lacking the moral fortitude to stand on principles he only feigns to possess until his comfort is threatened. Then he cowers behind the security of the baseless crowd, hoping to disappear, wallowing in his contrived victimhood.
We should refuse to be good little boys and girls, content with pats on the head and the crumbs the government mercifully throws us. Political elites expect us to dutifully snap back in line when they stomp their feet and wave their arms and yell “science!” and promise to keep us safe in exchange for compliance.
Items of Interest
“The State is the great fiction through which everyone endeavours to live at the expense of everyone else.”