A few days before President Joe Biden was sworn into office, Senator Joe Manchin III (D-WV) called for spending up to $4 trillion on infrastructure over 10 years but now he claims the Democratic Party’s decade-long $350 billion per year proposal for expanding heath care access, boosting education programs and fighting climate change is too expensive.
Manchin, a conservative corporate Democrat from West Virginia, made the comments on a news program in his home state saying on the eve of Biden’s inauguration that lawmakers should spend trillions in infrastructure.
On January 19, 2021—as the Democrats took control of Congress and the White House—Joseph Zeballos-Roig published an article on Business Insider that said Manchin called for up to $4 trillion in infrastructure spending.
Observers note that Manchin and three Republicans, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, Sen. Rob Portman and Rep. David McKinley, proposed undertaking a multibillion-dollar “totally bipartisan” investment for an energy infrastructure project in the Appalachian region in 2017, which would have compounded the problem of climate change by encouraging horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas production.
“There’s not a better investment that the state of West Virginia, the state of Pennsylvania, the state of Ohio could make,” said Manchin, of his proposal to waste billions of dollars contributing to the demise of Earth’s ability to sustain life.
“The simple fact is, there are a lot of better investment that Americans can make,” said environmental activist Lisa McCormick, who has run for Congress in New Jersey.
“Instead of lowering the cost by paring off lifesaving features in the bill—like expanded access to childcare, countering the climate crisis, and providing vision, dental and hearing services through Medicare —it could be paid for with common sense measures that raise revenue like better IRS enforcement, collecting levies on billionaire-wealth and expanded taxes on corporations,” said McCormick.
McCormick believes Manchin does not want to combat climate change because he is in the pocket of fossil fuel companies.
West Virginia has become the largest producer in the country of shale gas, which releases more greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than other fossil fuels.
After the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a 2010 report concluding that shale gas emits larger amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, than does conventional gas, but still far less than coal; Cornell University professor Robert W. Howarth, a marine ecologist, claimed that once methane leak and venting impacts are included, the greenhouse gas footprint of shale gas is far worse than those of coal and fuel oil.
“Manchin derives much of his campaign funding from the dirty energy industry,” said McCormick. “His complaint about the cost is an act. Joe Manchin is trying to stop clean renewable power from displacing his contributors in the energy markets, and as much as we hear complaints about ‘socialism’ these guys just want to rig the economy because they are losers without tax breaks, subsidies and fixed markets.”
His second-largest donor was FirstEnergy Corp, which gave him $147,950 during his career in Congress, according to OpenSecrets, an independent organization that tracks money spent to influence elections based on Federal Election Commission data. While corporate contributions are illegal in federal campaigns and FirstEnergy Corp itself did not donate, the money in Manchin’s campaign account came from the the company’s PAC plus employees, owners, and their immediate families.
Manchin received a total of $835,498 contributed by mining interests and $670,945 from oil & gas sources. He also got $1,575,807 from lawyers and $1,275,510 from securities investors, which could be linked to fossil fuel industries.
“What Joe Manchin and Josh Gottheimer are putting in danger is confronting climate change, saving our democracy, tackling grotesque income inequality — and that’s just the beginning of the list,” said McCormick. “We must deliver a resounding message to the politicians trying to take our country backwards—like Manchin and Gottheimer—if they want to cling to the past they can have it, but the future belongs to us and they have to stop holding us back.”
After he was considered by then-President-elect Donald Trump for appointment as the Secretary of Energy in 2016, Manchin said he was committed to working with the Republican to rebuild our infrastructure, reform our broken tax code, and build an economy that works for all Americans.
Manchin is no longer committed to those goals now that he holds a key that could destroy the Democratic Party by rendering it unable to fulfill campaign promises necessary to recover from the destruction caused by GOP ineptitude and greed.
Journalist David Sirota said Manchin played a pivotal role funneling a massive multibillion-dollar bailout to his Wall Street donors during the government’s botched response to the 2008 financial crisis.
Sirota teamed up with Alex Gibney, director of the documentary Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, to explore “why the financial crisis happened, how the bailout went so wrong, why politicians covered up Wall Street’s crimes and what the lasting impact of the meltdown was on America’s political, social and economic fabric.”
“Progressives know it is going to take more than $3.5 trillion over a decade for rebuilding our infrastructure, reforming our broken tax laws, and building an economy that works for all Americans, but the Biden plan is the federal government’s most ambitious effort to reverse the harmful consequences of Reaganomics,” said McCormick. “The fact that no Republican is willing to help and the task of derailing the proposed recovery operation shows how deeply troubled our corrupt political system has become, but voters can still exert control. It will take hard work, but I keep calling on Americans to rise up to the responsibility of citizenship.”