The same corporations that lobbied against the major social spending bill also donated into Manchin’s political action committee before he blocked its passage.
By Jake Johnson
New federal disclosures reveal that major corporations poured donations into Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin’s political action committee in the weeks leading up to his pivotal announcement Sunday that he would oppose the Build Back Better Act, a stance that progressives argue is motivated by the senator’s deference to special interests.
CNBC reported late Tuesday that Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings show that donors to Manchin’s Country Roads PAC raked in 17 contributions from corporations in October and 19 in November as he pared back and repeatedly threatened to tank the Democrats’ $1.75 trillion social spending and climate legislation.
Manchin donors during that period, according to CNBC, included corporate behemoths such as Goldman Sachs, American Express, UnitedHealth Group, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Lockheed Martin, many of which took part in the massive big business lobbying blitz against the bill, which included key child poverty-reducing benefits and significant investments in clean energy.
“Country Roads raised over $150,000 in October from corporate donors such as Verizon, Union Pacific, Wells Fargo, and PACs tied to the coal and mining industries,” CNBC noted.
As founder of the West Virginia-based coal company Enersystems, Manchin is well acquainted with the fossil fuel industry, which donated at least $400,000 to the West Virginia Democrat between July and October as he worked to gut the Build Back Better Act’s key climate provisions. The Washington Post reported last week that Manchin’s share in Enersystems—currently run by the senator’s son—is “worth between $1 million and $5 million.”
In a blog post earlier this week, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich noted that last year Manchin “made half a million dollars in Enersystems dividends (roughly three times the $174,000 salary he made last year as a senator).”
Reich cited such income—as well as the fact that Manchin “collects more campaign money from coal, oil, and gas companies than any other senator”—as possible explanations behind the West Virginia Democrat’s decision to block his party’s flagship legislation, which he announced in an appearance on the right-wing network Fox News.
Democratic leaders are still working to salvage the Build Back Better Act, but it’s unclear how much they would have to water down the already badly weakened legislation in order to win Manchin’s support, needed in a Senate that is split 50-50 between the two major parties. The death of the Build Back Better package would likely push millions of children back into poverty, potentially blow a $60 billion hole in the U.S. economy, and thwart what advocates see as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to pass meaningful climate legislation.
“This is the way things work when democracy has been weakened,” the Democracy Initiative—a coalition of dozens of civil rights, environmental, and labor groups—said Wednesday. “The powerful get special access to our government, while we’re told, ‘Sorry, we can’t help you.'”
[On Tuesday, Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, said he welcomed Manchin joining the Republican Party, which would give it the majority. “Obviously we would love to have him on our team,” McConnell said. “I think he’d be more comfortable.”]
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How can anyone pretend that the USA in any way resembles a democracy??? Every vote is bought, every “rep” and Senator is dependent on bribes, and the laws discussed and voted on in Congress have been shown to reflect only the desires of the rich, not those of the vast majority of the population, who are ignored.
When I read about this entire ilk I feel like heading for the shower and cleanse my body. Que asco!!!
When each party’s caucus in a 50:50 body votes robotically in lockstep rather than trying to craft some compromised middle ground, this is what you get when one legislator from either party deviates from the dictate of their political monolith. Of course, that person is then demonized amongst the pols and in the partisan media. If a single Republican got off the schneid, he or she too would be proclaimed public enemy number one.
Funny thing is, political parties are not even mentioned in the constitution and there has never been any rule, and certainly no law, stating that all members of a party must vote according to some set of directions, whoever may hand them down. They are not even bound to vote consistent with their campaign promises or with the public consensus no matter how clearly expressed that may be expressed in professional polling. Would it be wise or foolish to try to change all that?
There certainly are insider elites in Congress, as in most other private and governmental organisations, who assume the mantle of “running the show” and bossing around most of the rest. They make up rules (like the filibuster, the entire machinations of the committee system, etc) and worship them as quasi Articles of the Constitution. The number one objective of most of these rules seems to be maximizing the chances for their own re-election. Their implementation seems mostly to hinge upon the availability of money. The source of this money is usually very wealthy and powerful entities that have vested interests in the legislative output of the Congress. They seem to be the primary reason nothing will ever change in how things are done on Capitol Hill. Working for the will or the good of the people would mean so much less moolah FOR the insider elites and so much less dough FROM the tax payers. This defies the laws of nature as Americans understand things.
The politicized Supreme Court has declared that corporations are people, money is speech, and bribery of “our” representatives is legal. Some call it legalized bribery. Being less polite, and wishing to throw an insult in the direction of the corrupt Court and the corrupt electoral/political system it has created, I call it the “Whores For Hire” system. Although Manchin is a despicable opportunist who has no interest in serving the interests of the people, he is not the problem. The problem is the system, which is completely rotten. Unless it is changed, the people will never have any meaningful way about policy in this Country. That is exactly the kind of “democracy” the 1% ordered and has, after forty years of efforts, have now succeeded in installing in this Country.
“Whores for hire” is a wrong analogy. Most people, worldwide, become whores/prostitutes because of some tragedy or trauma that they could not escape. Further, when they whore themselves, it is they who get bodily and mentally harmed and then they die, literally and figuratively, at a young age. Their life lost forever.
The correct term for these utterly corrupt people like Manchin is “Pimps for hire”. They are the middle men who get paid by clients to screw the people and they laugh all the way to the bank, decked in their garish riches. It is the people who are being raped and prostituted, their life sucked away one ignominy at a time.
Does it surprise anyone?
Not at all. If Biden wanted the enhanced domestic programs in BBB implemented he has plenty to tools at his disposal to clamp down on Manchin and West Virginia. Unfortunately, Biden does not care about the people of this country. Actually, he does care about the so-called elites, the US war machine, and himself.