Joe Manchin Versus West Virginia

Oct 18, 2021 · 618 comments
larry (Miami)
Essentially Paul is suggesting Joe is stupid, living in the past, unaware of the demographics in his state. That's ridiculous.The best explanation is that Joe is a coal baron, and behaves accordingly. The model for this character is well-known, and Joe follows it religiously. Joe is a bad actor, a plutocrat. Let's face it, Senate Dems these last few decades have provided much shelter for plutocrats, essentially on a a par with Republicans, and Joe has been comfortable there. But, when the camouflage is stripped by the exigencies of cllmate and national emergencies, he's left standing alone, the last plutocrat to get schooled in the Dem Senate caucus, maybe along with Sinema whatever her thing is. Manchin desperately needs to be schooled; let's call it Tough Love. Biden's got to get real with this dude, and fast.
Joe Giardullo (Marbletown)
Joe Manchin: bought & paid for.
Annabelle (NZ)
Is it the fault of children that West Virginia has too few jobs?
Ron (washington)
Bottom line he is a opportunist with not one wit of a care for the people in WV. All he cares about is his inflated ego. He shows cronyism at its worst.
Barbara (Queens)
And don't forget in a related note his darlin' daughter dear's role with Big Pharma, that is Pfizer. If you can rake in millions and live like royalty by bankrupting working and middle class people in need of your medical products, why do the right thing? Not Manchin's bad? Sure it is.
Ian MacFarlane (Philadelphia)
You are far too kind Mr Krugman.
Bruce Olson (Houston)
Krugman writes: "But it’s actually worse than that: Manchin appears ready to veto policies that would be in the interests of his own constituents." Krugman also says he believes Manchin is not following the money. I respectfully (or even disrespectfully) disagree. I think he is following the money, whether fossilized or from anywhere else, even if he also might silently support some of the stuff he says is too costly and all that other obfuscating stuff he stalls with. It may not be for the money itself but it is all about getting the money to fend off the Trumpster monstrosity that is about to brainwash his poorly educated, poorly paid, significantly racist state full of CHristian In Name Only voters who still believe the fictions of MAGA, socialist bogeymen and other travelling medicine show salesmen.
Sheila (3103)
Manchin's and Sinema's goal is clear - maintain donor dollars flowing in to their campaign accounts, period.
Peter Schaeffer (Morgantown, WV)
Most WV politicians still think and act as if coal is still king! Because the keep looking backward, my home state is not moving forward.
lester ostroy (Redondo Beach, CA)
It's amazing that there isn't even one or two R's that could advance some climate initiatives. Many have very safe seats. Don't they care about the country or the civilization at all? or do they all believe it's a hoax?
kaygeejay8 (Amissville, VA)
Expecting people to work for money? Progressives will have none of that. prosperity can be printed in their world.
Tanis Marsh (Everett, Wa)
Every day I receive about ten solicitations to contribute to the Democratic National Committee. This comment must be very naive, however, couldn't some of the monies received be spent for the education of the West Virginia Citizenry. Not one opinion piece by an important elected official, but a real bombardment telling people what the legislation under consideration would do for them. In my state I haven't seen any ads. (Of course WA is quite liberal) It seems one must be a reader or news watcher to get this legislation tucked under the belt. The person who said something like "don't try to sell the recipe; sell the cookies" had it right! Manchin's arrogance presents such an ugly disturbance.
Nathan Hansard (Roanoke Virginia)
Not surprising at all. Coal barons have always exploited miners. It’s good they aren’t literally hiring Pinkertons to shoot them any more, but that was a thing.
one of those people (MA)
So much attention is being heaped on these two hold out Senators, and no one talks about the fact that the "centrists" on the other side of the aisle, like Susan Collins, are lockstep behind voting against Biden's agenda. Can the media please stop calling GOP senators like Collins moderates?
Christopher (Brooklyn, NY)
Joe Manchin has entirely too much power. He is drunk with power and utterly corrupt. By his very efforts to deny science and impede progress, he further fractures Democrats and all but ensures yet another Republican ascension. We are at a crucial tipping point in American history and Manchin is pressing his thumb down on the wrong side.
Rosemary Galette (Atlanta, GA)
Georgia worked hard to elect 2 decent Senators in the last election. Ossoff and Warnock spend their days actually focused on the regular people of Georgia and regular people of the nation. They connect to common people and keep their legislatives objectives on actions that make a difference for real people. It's appalling to me that their decency is overshadowed by a disgusting person like Manchin who does nothing for his own citizens and nothing for the people of this country. The people in his state need a different choice than this twisted soul. He needs to go. He is not the future.
Ellen (Oregon)
Nah, Manchin is in it for himself. He feels uber- important, a little man throwing his weight around. He isn’t a democrat, he’s an autocrat, wielding enormous power for himself and himself alone. He obviously cares not one whit about his grandchildren’s future. He is selfishness writ small.
AWENSHOK (Houston)
Hurting his constituents....? Methinks NOT. Joe's doing the best for HIMSELF....and like most politicains when pressed, that's the constituency that matters above ALL else.
AWENSHOK (Houston)
REUTERS, 10/7/2021: “Critics say Manchin is protecting the coal and natural gas industry that are economic drivers in his home state, and benefit his family. Manchin founded the private coal brokerage Enersystems in 1988 and still owns a big stake in the company, which his son currently runs. In 2020 alone, Manchin earned nearly $500,000 of income from Enersystems, and he owns as much as $5 million worth of stock in the company, according to his most recent financial disclosure.” And this is not just unethical, how is it not ILLEGAL....?
Mike Carpenter (Tucson, AZ)
First, the two of them will block anything of value being passed, and voters will blame both sides. Second, R's will win a majority in the Senate, blocking anything including Supreme Court appointments. Third, R's will win enough in 2024 to end democracy in any form. (We don't have it now with so few people controlling what passes.) What we as individuals and families must do is figure out how to navigate the future with ever more going to the rich, the poor R's too stupid to understand, limited prospects for health care outside government employment, and low pay. I'm not sure how to get across to my grandkids.
BS (Sunnyvale, CA)
I personally don't think it needs a conspiracy theory to explain. If you compare votes for Manchin in 2018 to his competition, he would have lost, except that the anti-Manchin vote was split between a Republican and a Libertarian. If the R's and the L's can unite against him, he's toast, and more spending wouldn't help him with that crowd.
Liber (NY)
@Paul Krugman: A good column. For President Biden and his slim majority in Congress. Senator Manchin presents a real conundrum.I presently see no solution.
WTK (Louisville, OH)
Follow the money. Coal and natural gas companies have more of it to give Manchin than the people of West Virginia, whose needs are irrelevant by comparison.
Older And Content (Hudson Valley)
How is Joe Manchin, able to vote on issues, like climate matters, when he has a clear conflict of interest with his business dealings?
Dr Michael (Bethesda, MD)
I agree with the author in general. Two points I disagree with. Work requirements actually are not necessarily means forcing the beneficiary to work. In the nineties welfare to work program work requirement included many other activities like training, enrolling in educational programs like community college, job search… In fact traditional work was always a small part of counting towards work requirement eligibility. Second, I don’t think that low income workers should subsidize upper middle class and rich families children. Therefore, child credit should be mean tested.
XZK (San Jose, CA)
Machin obviously has the interests of his constituents at heart. He is trying his best to serve the fossil fuel industry donors and his blind-trust coal investment portfolio manager to get good results. I think we really needed to stop complaining Manchin is compromised, it is clear his loyalties are narrowly focused, and his aim is true.
Wilbray Thiffault (Ottawa. Canada)
Did the Museum on the Coal industry is now using solar panel instead of coal to heat the place?
Jack Haffey (Anaconda, Montana)
Paul Krugman's opinion should be required reading right now for members of Congress and for West Virginians. The weight of the factual evidence, at this time and it will prove out long run, supports passage of both bills - with the bill having several societally necessary programs at a wisely modified set of program costs. And, the bills should still include all the programs. These bills, while only supported (openly) by Democrats - as courageous trustees for their constituents and the entire nation, are unquestionably in the public interest going forward. Many if not most moderate Republicans (not willing to say so publicly) also surely want the bills to pass. This package , while huge looking dollar wise, is absolutely what the nation needs to move forward as an entire society on the upswing.
Alan White (Toronto)
I am on board with needs testing and work requirements. I think they should be applied to every tax cut. Those who want to get the tax cut should show that they are so poor they need it. And all recipients of a tax cut should be required to work as a volunteers in a food kitchen or cleaning roadways or what have you. Let's say 30 day per year.
Jim (Citizen of The World)
Does Canada have work requirements to receive tax breaks. The short answer is no..One reason is you'd have to levy some requirement on corporations the wealthy and the rich. In fact Canada has more working class tax breaks than we do in the U.S.
SunscreenAl (L.A.)
Surprise, surprise Mr. Krugman. A politician gets his voters to vote against their own self interests. You would, too, if you thought the election was stolen. Or climate change is a hoax.
citizen vox (san francisco)
Manchin is killing Biden, but I see no signs that Biden has a fight back strategy. And that is making me even more hopeless than when Trump was in office. If I were to express exactly what I think of that silence, I know my comment will not be printed.
Owen Good (Elkin, N.C.)
Paul, You write this as if Manchin would care about how these decisions affect his constituents, and you write as if West Virginians actually know their interests, much less vote in them. I'd expect a Nobel-winning economist to not be so naive ...
Herve (Montreal)
Manchin has just too much say. The Dem should just shoot for the minimum acceptable by Manchin and Synema then make it clear to the voters of the swing states that anything else can only happen in 2023 if they elect more democrats senators and reps. Dems should not fail on the short term otherwise the GOP will be back!
Joyce Mary (Urbana, IL)
Dear Joe, Even if, by some miracle, you were ever elected President the Republicans would still work against you. Do something positive for a change. Don't just resist ... advance.
Chevy (South Hadley, MA)
It is only common sense that no Senator should have a disproportionate influence when it comes to counting the votes for the kind of paradigm-shifting legislation proposed by Biden's Build Back Better programs. Sure, seniority should count for committee leaderships, and perhaps other perks such as office space that doesn't affect constituents. That said, where is the balance? 100 Senators, 435 Representatives. Let's say that the social infrastructure legislation costs $3.5 trillion. Divide by two houses of Congress. So the Senate's "share" is $1.75 trillion. Now divided by 100 - comes to - STOP. My analysis is intentionally simplistic and goes . . . nowhere! What if Manchin said $0? What if Sinema votes with the Republicans? It's time for the Democrats to stop fooling around and eliminate the filibuster. This is not what the Founders had in mind. Schumer is not dealing with rational people, but with power-hungry Quislings ready to do the bidding of plutocratic oligarchs. Build Back Better and they will come: voters will flock to the polls to reward the party of action, the party that insists on levelling the playing field. Especially if Republicans keep marching in goosestep with their leader, insisting that the past election was and all future elections will have been stolen if they don't win.
Will Buffalo (Buffalo NY)
Is Joe really a Democrat or just a "Dino"??
Jim (Citizen of The World)
You should be asking that question about Sinema and Manchin, not Biden.
C. Neville (Portland, OR)
There will always be Manchins and Sinemas, regressive for whatever reason. What the Democrats need to understand is the they do not have a majority! You do not fight within the party to try to get everything you want when you are not in the majority! You get your foot in the door for policies people want and these policies will grow in time into everything you want. This is the long game which the Democrats seem to be unable to grasp.
John (San Francisco)
From a West Virginia newspaper: Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., dismissed fellow Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., as an “out-of-stater” in a statement on Twitter Friday for penning an op-ed in the Charleston Gazette-Mail urging Manchin to support President Joe Biden’s plans to invest trillions in health and child care, fighting climate change and other priorities. But a specific category of out-of-staters accounted for more than 10 times as much in Manchin campaign contributions than in-state sources did from July 1 through Sept. 30. Employees and political action committees for out-of-state oil and gas companies -- most of which are based in Texas -- dwarfed contributions from in-state individuals and political action committees by more than tenfold, according to the senator’s newly filed quarterly campaign finance report.
JoeG (Houston)
Manchin is also against the part of the bill that penalizes utilities for burning fossil fuels. The utilities would pass the cost to the customer. Sounds like a Democrat to me.
Paul G Knox (Philadelphia)
I wouldn’t give that guy an ounce of the benefit of the doubt. He’s become massively wealthy doing things his way. And his way is side with the billionaires and the monied class. He takes their dough , dances to their tune and shares in the spoils.
Rick (Fraser, Co)
Thanks for standing up for West Virginia, Mr. Krugman. BTW when was the last time you actually set foot in that state? Sometimes, folks in what you would call flyover states resent folks like you telling us that you speak for us. Sometimes, that resentment costs the Democrats (whom I support) elections. Please try humility, not arrogance.
Andrei (NYC)
I hear the coal miners of West Virginia have very strong opinions of the filibuster.
mrh (Chicago, IL)
Welcome to the republican form of government. This is precisely the form of government the founding fathers bequeathed for us. We certainly do not live in a democracy. This means that senators like Manchin can easily block the will of the people of the U.S. For example, those of us who are old enough will recall that in our, “democracy” the people had to get out into the street and demonstrate to get us out of the undeclared “war” in Vietnam . So the representative form of government in which we live may be as good as it gets, but a democracy we ain’t,
Barbara (Coastal SC)
Sadly Manchin is playing up his power in this debate all he can. His conflict of interest, income from coal profits, makes the situation, well, dirty, in more ways than one. He is neither helping WV nor its citizens, let alone Americans in general. No matter how money his coal profits bring in, does he really want his grandchildren to suffer the effects of worse climate change, brought about by his refusal to move forward with climate change mitigation? I have three teenage grandsons and I know I want them to breathe well and enjoy life, not worry about their children when the time comes. I hope Biden and other moderates can convince Manchin that the price tag is reasonable. For what it's worth, I agree with Manchin on most of his tax proposals to pay for the two infrastructure bills.
Russell 🏀 🐕 (Metairie)
You would think - if only I could present great knowledge to these leaders - they would be influenced to change their minds - but they’re not interested in ideas - it’s money that talks and influences their votes. These old guys will be dead in another 20 years - they don’t care about what happens after that.
JT (Miami Beach)
Ego rules Manchin. Plus his financial interests. Voting rights and global warning are seated at the back of the bus. And, yes, Biden's ploy agenda would be a great help to Manchin's constituents - as they would to those living in Kentucky. Perhaps if the inhabitants of both states would look up the word socialism they might just wake up.
Publius (Los Angeles, California)
For once Prof. Krugman is naive and too kind. Manchin, mendacious and money all begin with the letter “M”. So does McConnell. Pretty much sums it up. Until the Dems have a real majority in the Senate, not one held hostage by the likes of grifters Manchin and Sinema, gridlock or bad policies will continue. That’s why 2022 is so important. We who oppose the GQP and everyone in it have to turn out like never before, regardless of our enthusiasm level, if we want to avoid sliding further into fascism in this country. It won’t be easy. But it is critical.
MLucero (Albuquerque)
His opposition to the BBB Act is hypocritical at best and dangerous at its worst. West Virginia will suffer more than larger states if the progressives hold out for the entire bill because it would crater the infrastructure bill as well. I agree with the progressives the $3.5 trillion dollar price has come down from a $6 trillion dollars which if it were still that large would have put a dent into climate change and helped the old and the young in a more effective way. If congress what's to really help Americans both bills need to pass as is right now. To try to reduce it even further is not only short sighted but a knife to the back of the entire country. We have not invested in America since the 50's when the interstate highway system was created. We have not fixed bridges or roads and we have not invested in Americans. We are worse off now than at any time since the great depression. Children in poverty are at an all time high, there are more working poor now than ever before, seniors are forced to work in order to pay for vision and dental care as well as the short fall from healthcare they can't afford but desperately need. Vote for the bill Joe you will be rewarded by your constituents who need the entire bill to pass.
udub (Hawaii)
It is not, in a blanket sense, "sheer cruelty to refuse to help children unless their parents take jobs"...the rest of us are working those exact same cruel deals. Manchin is absolutely right about this and is coming across as more sane than any Democrat on almost this budget issue.
Dave (California)
There are two populations in West Virginia that have widely divergent interests. The would-be coal miners who are "entitled" to high paying jobs and coal mine owners who are crying out for subsidies and regulations to promote coal. Then there are the ex-miners with black lung disease and the other frail old and their poorly paid care givers and health care workers. (WV demographics has an older population with significant health problems from the toxic waste dumps of old bankrupted abandoned coal mines). Now the second population are far more numerous and have more urgent needs. So why is all of the attention focused on the needs of the first group? Is it that there it a lot of loose money attached to the interests of the first group, and none attached to the interests of the second? The mine owners urgently need the government subsidy money so they can siphon it off and leave the superfund with more abandoned mines and mine tailing dumps, and bankrupt mining companies. As far as the would-be miners, they have their MAGA hats.
From North of the Border (Ontario, Canada)
I've said it before and I will say it again. The only viable long term solution is a new constitution. The present one was great but badly out of date. A transparent and public drafting of same might actually involve more citizens in the process and they might actually learn something.
Andrew Kelm (Toronto)
So President Manchin is either stupid or corrupt. No wonder he sides with Republicans.
Ack (NYC)
The alternative could be a complete loss for Biden, the House and the Senate. Why would Joe Manchin risk the Democrat's loss of power, loss of our future and loss of the ability to legislate? He certainly won't be in the headlines then nor will he be a "power broker".
Didier (Earth)
My ancestors lived in Virginia or West Virginia since the 1600s. I have lived there my entire life. Joe Manchin knows West Virginia like I do. You cannot reason with the overwhelming majority of West Virginia voters, who are not unlike many other especially rural and blue-collar voters around the country. It makes no difference if a policy benefits or harms these voters. It only matters whether you can fool them into believing that you are for them and your adversaries are not. His reaction to Senator Sanders' op-ed is classic West Virginia "us versus them" politics. West Virginia is 49th or 50th in nearly every socio-economic category for a reason. It is poor, old, overweight, unhealthy, and under-educated. Joe Manchin cynically exploits that, and is putting his mouth where his money is. If you are counting on his sincerity, you've been conned. “For where your treasure is," the Rabbi from Nazareth observed, "there your heart will be also." Joe Manchin's treasure isn't the people of West Virginia, and it is readily apparent where his heart lies.
Twg (NV)
"The problem is that he seems to have a decades-out-of-date vision of what his state needs. And that distorted vision is now endangering America's future." It's also a great argument for term limits in Congress! Manchin is a classic opportunistic politician who puts his own personal interests above the common good and yes, the welfare of his own constituents. Welfare: the health, happiness, and fortunes of a person or group. It also must be recognized that Manchin's views are rooted in a systemic racist and misogynist attitude: if we help the poor/working classes too much they will feel too entitled. Right! As if the way our tax system and pay structures and capital access structures weren't designed in the first place to foster discriminatory practices. Manchin's view of greater equality does not sit on a level playing field. Manchin is abusing his power. Abuse of power and dark money in politics is killing our democracy.
RM (Worcester)
Dr. Krugman: Every senator and Congressman is beholden to special interest groups to win election. That is our current corrupt political system. Like it or not, it has been legitimized by Congress and federal Courts. In an essence, it does not make any sense to bring the skeleton out of Manchin’s closet. Every legislator is as guilty as Manchin. Of course, the article sounds much better tying Manchin with fossil fuel groups. How about the others? The rest are as corrupt (if that is the definition) as Manchin.
DMC (Chico, CA)
"Decades out of date" describes Manchin's worldview perfectly.
Russell 🏀 🐕 (Metairie)
It’s really not Manchin and Sinema - they are just a reflection of the population in the United States - unfortunately we have a poorly educated country - our leaders quite often fight to prevent science from being taught in schools - fight to break down the separation of church and state - turn our country into a backwards theocracy if they get their way.
Bill (Belle Harbour, New York)
A pivotal question that I never see being addresses is: "What's good for children"? Why is it that requirements of "the economy" always seem to trump the interests of the people who live in it? Parents should have an option of staying home with a child until the child is ready to launch into a more structured environment. The future of our culture (and country) is dependent on how well these children grow up to be emotionally. Has anyone ever considered the possibility that the rise in irrational, emotional, and warped thinking in the minds of Americans (See Q-Anon et al) might be the result of growing up as a latch-key kid or at Grandma's house? Let's start thinking about why so many American adults seem to "have lost it" when it comes to maturity and critical thinking.
james ponsoldt (athens, georgia)
the press needs to get much more specific about the identities of mancin's donors, and hammer that information home in west virginia. i still believe in "follow the money".
Judgeboyajian10 (Fishkill)
So Manchin is propping up the coal industry which has been in a state of rigor mortis for decades but is part of the fossil fuels dilemma causing West Virginia to be the biggest flood zone since Noah’s Ark. Unfortunately his energy policies are pushing all of us into a mass climate change extinction horizon. So it’s not Manchin against West Virginia it’s Manchin against Planet Earth.
Can they take away a Nobel Prize after the recipient has demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of reality. Trump won West Virginia by 40 points. 40 POINTS! And Krugman wants to claim he understands voters in WV better than Manchin did. Joe Manchin is a gift to the Democratic party. First, he's a Democratic Senator from a red state. His replacement would likely be from the other party. And second, he's taking a tremendous amount of the heat (along with Sinema) allowing dozens of Democrats in the Senate and Congress to avoid having to vote for bills that could end their careers.
AW2020 (SF)
What do the polls say in WV? Do they support Build Back Better? Ultimately, Manchin can only be compelled to listen to his constituents despite what his donors may want. Democrats need to get their act together asap. Time is running out.
Fellow (Florida)
Could the gentleman be a DINO (who) saw in cynical calculations a simple re-election gambit in which change (something of the order of Global Warming) must be ignored if the rising tide of expectations (lifting all yachts) of the managerial and investment class was not to be thwarted. Vested interests in a Company Town own the message and voters for miles around. Terribly sad.
MWF (Chicago)
Senator Manchin (and his fellow traveler, Kyrsten Sinema) are Republicans in all but name. (Is it acceptable to say DINO yet?) He is holding the infrastructure bill hostage while he makes ever more demands to cut vital programs and slow-walks the negotiations. He insists he is acting on principle--protecting donors seems to motivate Sinema--but by the time they wring as much of the the safety-net, environmental and other vital programs out of the bill, it will likely resemble what only Republicans could be proud of. And GOP senators will all vote against it, anyway. Sinema and Manchin also oppose ending the filibuster (and expanding the extremist Supreme Court), all but sinking the Biden agenda if these two stealth Republicans break with their party and vote with the Trumpers.
Ellen Blair (Portland)
Why are you giving Manchin, whose son actually runs his father's coal-brokerage business, a pass here? More than a million bucks a year goes into Manchin's pockets, directly from his coal profiteering. How is this not supremely relevant to his obstruction of the clean energy bill now? It should disqualify him from voting on the issue, at the very least.
Beth (Colorado)
Manchin is like WY senator Barrasso. He is wholly owned and operated by fossil fuel. In WY green energy is growing by leaps and bounds while fossil/coal is shrinking, but Barrass is so blindly owned by fossil that he cannot do best for his own voters. Same for Manchin.
markd (michigan)
Following the money is a tried and true principle. Manchin is a coal mine owner and takes big money from other owners. Those are his principles. His own pockets. Manchin is a DINO. He's a far right Democrat or a centrist Republican, take your pick. Once he was elected the citizens of WV became secondary to his personal wealth. He's easy to read. Greed and ego.
N.B. (Cambridge, MA)
Maybe they could add a provision for life time payments for coal miners, however much they are earning now. Probably not that much at all. And, there will be opportunities for them to earn more soon enough when clean energy initiatives come online.
Tom (Des Moines, IA)
I'm tired of the Joe Manchin columns and the angst of liberals who don't know how to get the support to pass helpful bills like "Build Back Better". Surely the Senator was also tired when he told his critics to 'elect more liberals'. But that's just what's missing--Dems doing due diligence and electing national reps who reflect the paradoxically conservative (not radical change) but liberal (we still want big changes) will of the people. They don't have the current Congressional power to do what the extreme libs of their party want to steamroll America into delivering for them. Dems could and should have more representation in both houses of Congress, but they don't know how to make a morally and intellectually corrupt ReTrumplican party pay for their corruption and for not representing the desires of Americans to make gov't responsive to their needs. I'm tired of arguing (in my personal vacuum of power) that Dems need to run against their opponents as a bad brand, need to nationalize races, esp for Congressional representation. So let's hear less griping about the fact that Dems don't have what they want, get over it, and go out and get it--in the next electoral cycle.
Charly (Minneapolis)
He was voted in by the Democrats of West Virginia, got the position of influence he wanted, and abandoned his constituents just like Sinema did. West Virginia was primarily a Blue state until things changed 5-6 years ago. What lies are Republicans telling voters for this to happen? Why are "Democratic" leaders wearing sheep's clothing over their Republican wolf skins? May they vote Manchin and Sinema out next election.
stewarjt (all up in there some where)
The only logical conclusion is Manchin is bought and paid for by corporations. He's part of the worst government money can buy.
Nina RT (Palm Harbor, FL)
No one with a $492K a year income from coal and a luxury houseboat on the Potomac should be talking about "entitlement." The fact that these policiess directly benefit his constituents, but Manchin opposes them because they also negatively effect his own pocketbook says all that needs to be said about his integrity and his sense of entitlement.
Carol (Santa Fe, NM)
I believe Manchin's 95% white constituents will continue to back him. They are willing to forego the benefits of Biden's plan as long as those same benefits are denied to people of the wrong color.
Tony (Eugene OR)
Several weeks ago, a NYT article about Manchin was accompanied by a photo taken on the Potomac River from the point of view of several kayakers listening to Manchin pontificate from the huge bow of his yacht, like Mussolini on a Rome palace balcony. Apparently the boaters, as they stared up at Manchin, had been questioning him about his policies. That photo was was the very irony Manchin is oblivious to, a man refusing to support his constituents and the nation, reaping financial benefits from the coal industry, while living on his personal yacht. Hail Caesar!
allentown (Allentown, PA)
@Tony "a man refusing to support his constituents " But, it is beyond obvious that Manchin is supporting the wishes of his constituents. It is totally condescending for you and the author to assume otherwise. His constituents overwhelmingly voted for Trump for president. Manchin is the only statewide D elected to office. What you are actually saying is that the voters of WV don't want what you think they should want. Or what I think they should want. They are entitled to their own choice of representatives in Congress. It's clear they aren't seeking to be represented by progressives. Yes, the coal industry is already dying a natural death. That likely makes it that much more objectionable to WV voters for Build Back Better to go out of its way to kill it dead right now. I'm sure there are many workers in the dwindling coal industry hoping that jobs hang on until they are able to retire. For others, not even in the industry, coal is probably seen as a big part of their state's culture. For whatever reason, it's wrong and pointless to blame Manchin and Sinema for $3.5 trillion of Build Back Better not being adopted. We Dems have only 50 senators. BBB is multiple major change programs. It's tough to impossible to pass that with 50 senators. Look how Obama struggled on ACA with 60 D senators. That was a mandate, but still tough sledding to get one big program through. There is a bare D majority in House and Senate, their is no progressive majority.
Randy (Houston)
@allentown Nor is there a "centrist" (the currently-favored term for what we used to call "conservative") majority. So what's your point?
Steve (just left of center)
@Tony The boat apparently is where Manchin lives when in D.C.; he does not keep an apartment or townhouse (also very costly housing options in Washington) like other legislators. So I'd think it would need to be of a certain size to be livable. As for "pontificating," the news reports that I heard said that he was engaging amicably, and at length, with the people in the kayaks. He did not try to avoid them and he patiently heard their views. I'd say he was doing his job despite the fact that they had intruded upon his living space.
PeterE (Oakland,Ca)
Perhaps the aim of Manchin and Sinema is to ensure that Biden's agenda fails slowly.
Charles Gerut (Lombard IL)
I read the whole opinion article. I still can't figure out what is motivating Joe Manchin. The limelight? Does he covet a run at higher office? Does he want to create the image of a 'centrist' whom nobody hates? He would lose to any strong Trumpist candidate, so that can't be it. Is there an intellectual argument for what he is doing? No, there is not. So. What?
Thomas (New York)
"...coal is far less important to the state than it used to be, and its significance is doomed to dwindle no matter what we do about climate change." If, as Manchin seems to want, we do little or nothing, civilization will collapse, and there will be no mining at all, just hunting and gathering. Of course, maybe he's not thinking farther ahead than next year's dividends from his coal-company stock.
denise (boston, ma)
This accurately portrays the situation in WV. However, one important issue left out is the 13 federal prisons and scores of state and locals jails. Their late Senator Byrd ruled for 51 years (terms limits please) and made sure there was going to be an industry to offset the dying coal business. The prison system is just that, a business. That "business" is part and parcel of not just the inadequacies of the justice system but are used as a substitute for addiction centers as well as mental health facilities. I always say follow the money and I would bet that he has a financial interest in these. Indeed, he has far more power than anyone should have in a state so small but, again, the "system" needs to be changed. Dramatically. Let's ask him "Is what you are doing, by not doing the right thing, the best for his state as well as the country?
Spike (San Diego)
Dr. Krugman, you are too kind. You think the Senator from WV is sincere. A more appropriate word would be "craven." He has proven to be adept at keeping himself employed as the only Democrat in a state-wide office, elected by a narrow margin over his opponent, perhaps thanks to the Libertarian candidate who drew a few thousand votes. He could be brave, vote with the progressives, and lose his Senate seat; the backlash would be fierce. Or he can continue his Faustian pact with the Devil, letting him and his family continue to reap the rewards showered upon those who do not upset their masters, in this case, Big Coal, Big Gas, and the bewildered voters who are kept in line by a heavily controlled news and information industry, and who, for generations, are taught to vote against their own interests and for the (mostly) out-of-state puppeteers who grow rich pulling the strings. Yes, he could be brave. But we expect too much.
Nina RT (Palm Harbor, FL)
No one with a $492K a year income from coal and a luxury houseboat on the Potomac should be talking about "entitlement." The fact that the policies Manchin opposes directly benefit his state but also negatively effect his own pocket book says all that needs to be said about his integrity and his sense of entitlement.
Nina RT (Palm Harbor, FL)
No one with a $492K a year income from coal and a luxury houseboat on the Potomac should be talking about "entitlement." The fact that the policies Manchin opposes directly benefit his state but also negatively effect his own pocket book says all that needs to be said about his integrity and his sense of entitlement.
LT73 (USA)
The problem is Senator Manchin "seems to have a view that is decades out of date." ... That kind of inertia built upon obsolete information or beliefs has long plagued the legislative positions based on seniority. And I believe that vicious partisan attacks amounting to character assassination keep many if not most of those who would best serve us from ever running. I think that will not change until we put back the rule that when news organizations become aware of having published incorrect information they must immediately publish a retraction as prominently as the falsehood. If we do not push back against lying with enough penalties to ensure compliance then we will not be able to slow down our slide into becoming a corrupt third world society.
International Herb (California)
I noticed yesterday that the United Mine Workers came out in support of Manchin and against the Biden Climate plan. This is crucial and it underlines how the Democrats, the Biden mainstream Democrats in particular missed an open goal here. As Robert Pollin of PERI at UMass, one of the original architects of the Green New Deal has been shouting for the past 5 years, any talk of "Green New Deal" must include the term " with a Just Transition." A Green New Deal that takes jobs away West Virginians and leaves them to the mercy of the vagaries of the market, is not going fly politically either in West Virginia or in large parts of the West. I have not seen the Biden plan though I have seen bullet points presented by its advocates. Good as far it goes but without a detailed and funded program to provide direct aid and a path to a new career to those whose jobs are going to be at risk, it's a plan that will never see the light of day. And compared to the overall cost of the Reconciliation Bill, it should not be cripplingly expensive. As you point out, there are just not that many coal miners left in West Va. Hopefully there is still time for the Democrats to either correct this crucial omission or to publicize a Just Transition to the degree it is included in the Biden plan.
concerned citizen (East Coast)
West Virginia should expand its vision and re-brand itself from a coal producing state to an energy producing state. With so many hills and mountains, there must be plenty of windy ridges to place windmills. WV could become a major producer of windmill electricity, and supplant the coal industry.
karisimo0 (Kearny, Nj)
According to Krugman's own numbers, about 13,000 W Virginians make a living from coal or coal-related work. Biden could make each and every one of them millionaires for life for 13 billion dollars annually (13,000×$1,000,000), which is less than 4% of the annual cost of BBB, and less than 1/2 of 1% of the annual federal budget. Joe Manchin isn't worried about his constituents who make their living from coal, I can assure you.
Vernon (Bristol City)
Manchin might seem quite puerile, one may add, while the GOP is busy cozening people into believing theirs is a party of freedom. Yeah right! But then, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have appeared to have joined hands, in thwarting Joe Biden's infrastructure plan, and if Biden capitulates to them, AOC, Warren and Sanders will, quite possibly, come pattering about the hot button issues of the destitute. In additon, Joe Manchin must rhapsodize in favor of coal imdustry, and defenestrate those who favor eliminating green house gas emissions. One might wish one were deaf to the arguments of all of the Dems over the most picayune details, and to the cacophony of the GOP posing as the saviors. Thus it also appears the spectrum of political beliefs, liberals and conservatives may claim they are advocating, might indicate, essentially, the same continuum. But the nuances may issue threats to the impecunious who seem aghast when they watch the affluent swanking around in expensive automobiles. To summarize, Joe Biden might have to learn to encounter dizzying ascents and descents in his carrer as the POTUS, and to tread on beaten-up paths of anfractuous courses, without feeling vertiginous obstacles, also called an arduous journeys of politics.
Wallyman6 (NJ)
Straight up: What Joe Manchin is only concerned with is losing his Senate seat. It starts with that and ends with that. It's a lie in fear of that, as if its his only identity. I'd be he enjoys the status it brings. But it's like he always wets a finger and puts it up to see which way the wind is blowing that day. Which begs the question: Senator, wouldn't you be more comfortable as a member of the Finger to the Wind Party than the Democrats, who may ask you to take some kind of unified stand? We'll wait for you to put your wet finger to the wind before you answer.
Vernon (Bristol City)
Manchin might seem quite puerile, one may add, while the GOP is busy cozening people into believing theirs is a party of freedom. Yeah right! But then, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have appeared to have joined hands, in thwarting Joe Biden's infrastructure plan, and if Biden capitulates to them, AOC, Warren and Sanders will, quite possibly, will come pattering about the hot button issues of the destitute. One might wish one were deaf to the arguments of all of the Dems over the most picayune details, and to the cacophony of the GOP posing as the saviors. Thus it also appears the spectrum of political beliefs, liberals and conservatives may claim they are advocating, might indicate, essentially, the same continuum. But the nuances may issue threats to the impecunious who seem aghast when they watch the affluent swanking around in expensive automobiles. To summarize, Joe Biden might have to learn to encounter dizzying ascents and descents in his carrer as the POTUS, and to tread on beaten-up paths of anfractuous courses, without feeling vertiginous obstacles, also called an arduous journeys of politics.
Rita (NYC)
If I were Mr. Biden, once a week, every week I would tell Americans the plan and whom, especially the Republicans who don't want grandma to get false teeth or a hearing aid, or on infrastructure, why the Republicans don't want to fix the bridges, roads which equals high paying jobs for everyone who wants to work, or that now you can have babies or mothers can get day care. I think you get my drift. I would contrast what America needs to the obviously more than discredited 'trickle down' economy never worked and why. In other words, a minimum of once a week educate the American population and show them that no matter what its called, they need what they know they need.
MB (Anywhere But Here)
What we’re seeing with Manchin and Sinema is how lucrative it is being a swing-vote centrist. The money just pours in. Unlike Paul Krugman’s closing statements, I think that’s more reflective of realism than cynicism.
"So West Virginia has a lot to lose and little to gain if the Biden climate plan goes down." Wouldn't the converse be true, that West Virginia has little to lose from the Biden climate plan and a lot to gain?
chambolle (Bainbridge Island)
West Virginia is an abysmal, unhappy place. It has the highest rate of opioid addiction and death by overdose in the country. Its rural towns have been exploited and ravaged by coal mining; and then left for dead — the landscape scarred and polluted, the unhealthy, uneducated and unemployed former coal miners and their families abandoned. Along with other economically depressed states like Louisiana, West Virginia is among the national leaders in suicides by firearm. The poverty rate in West Virginia is among the highest in the 50 states. There’s a lot that could be done to pull West Virginia out of the hole it’s in. Unfortunately, its ‘leadership’ isn’t interested. It’s far easier to pander to voters’ prejudices, exploit their ignorance and do the bidding of wealthy campaign donors than to do the right thing.
Roger MCCorkle (Ft Lauderdale, FL, USA)
If millions of people world wide die because of Global Heating, there is the possible that some people could be tried for crimes against humanity. I didn't just think this up. Several people voiced this opinion years ago. Obstructions should take heed.
Steve (Washington)
if i was to live in W.Va. i'd be asking what kind of senator throws his own state under the bus for his own personal and political gain.
Ben R (N. Caldwell, New Jersey)
One has to laugh at the arrogance of this column. Krugman knows more about West Virginians than a Senator who also used to be Governor. In a red state no less. To those readers who say Manchin should be voted out of the office. Yes, do that and I'm sure another "better" Democrat will be voted in. Joe.... keep the faith. Some long-term Democrats are with you.
Fellow Citizen (America)
I’m tired of giving greedy, narcissistic charlatans the benefit of the doubt. Paul, you really think that Manchin is not bright enough to read what I read, verify it, and change course?Really?Then how come he is able to bamboozle his constituents, the White House, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Peolosi and the media? Pretty good for a dumb guy. Let’s not overthink this. Manchin’s sabotage of Biden’s climate program makes him guilty of crimes against humanity. The suffering he will cause will stretch far into the future. There is a simple concept that described Joe Manchin - the banality of evil.
Chris (SW PA)
The serfs of West Virginia don't need any east coast educated know-it-all telling them they have a corrupt Senator who doesn't care about them. They voted for him and they like him, because like Trump he sticks it to the people they hate. And believe me, they hate a lot of people. You could say hate is what they do best. Well, that and pick up poisonous snakes and drink poison.
Special Guest (Canada)
Maybe it's time we put these lazy children to work in coal mines?
Daniel B (Colorado)
To read of congressional Democrats - Manchin and Sinema - who are apparently as corrupt as sociopathic Republican politicians in Congress and many state legislatures is truly saddening. That they indirectly (or directly) serve undemocratic. extremely plutocratic, inhumane and racist Republican goals is yet another appalling situation in our nation of too many appalling people and all-too-frequent appalling situations. One almost forgets about Mitch McConnell, Mr. Corruption Himself.
Kevin Cahill (87106 USA)
Real Democrat should primary Manchin and Sinema in 2024.
William Whitaker (Ft. Lauderdale)
How does one senator representing 1.8 million people (some might say 1.8 million yahoos) keep the entire world from benefitting over measures to combat global warming?
Mike C. (Florida)
What a disgrace Manchin is to this country. He is worse than any Republican. Why is he a Democrat? He is supposedly smart, compared to our dimwit senator from Arizona who sides with him in crippling Biden's agenda. Perhaps they both simply lust for power and money. The first symptom seems to infect even our senior Supreme Court justices, who won't retire even while in their 80s and in failing health.
shimr (Spring Valley, NY)
Manchin may honestly feel he is protecting the states' economic interests, as Krugman suggests, but he obviously has no interest in protecting the very poor as seen in his work-requirement attack on child tax credit. Manchin seems to feel that the only group to protect and coddle are the fossil fuel owners , those who own the "beautiful coal" and their lobbyists who help fund his campaigns and enhance his personal wealth. Manchin is the equivalent of the RINO. He is a DINO, and does not mind going back in time, to that era of dinos, to the time when climate did not threaten us all.
Paul Gasparin (Canada)
While I do not agree with most of Joe Manchin’s concerns about Build Back Better, I do agree with the income threshold for childcare. At the low end, people who aren’t working don’t need to pay other people to take care of their children while they’re at work and at the high end people who have high incomes should pay for their own decision to have children. There should be income thresholds for childcare.
Sallie (NYC)
What is Joe Manchin thinking.....the mot obvious answer is likely the correct one. He's thinking about continuing to collect all that money from coal and fossil fuel industries, and about getting himself reelected by not voting on anything so if anyone is angry about the democratic bill he can say he had nothing to do with it.
Ed C Man (HSV)
Manchin is failing the people who voted him into office. Surely the Democrats can get that message through to the voters of West Virginia. Freeing up West Virginians to defeat Manchin in the next Democrat primary.
Robert Wood (Little Rock, Arkansas)
From Reuters: "Manchin founded the private coal brokerage Enersystems in 1988 and still owns a big stake in the company, which his son currently runs. "In 2020 alone, Manchin earned nearly $500,000 of income from Enersystems, and he owns as much as $5 million worth of stock in the company, according to his most recent financial disclosure." More and more, Manchin really is a Republican at heart.
mckenzie422 (Bloomington IN)
Isn't there some means to strong arm this albatross into serving our democracy and not special interests (including his own) ?
Real Observer (Ca)
The vision, and policy, for all children, from vulnerable families in particular, should be simple. Cover the children-the cost of baby food, diapers, clothes,doctor's visits, even a few(not many and not too expensive) toys and for child care when the parents are at work. Child care may be more expensive than a mortgage.In that case,at least some help should be provided to offset the costs. Often, women do not work after delivery, for many months or even a year.It is a rare event in the lifetime of the parents. Then there is the cost of school and college. Books, school bag, a pc for middle and high school kids, an internet connection, and transport. All these costs should be covered for kids from poor and vulnerable families. School and college education will give them the means to get out of their situation after graduating,when they find a good job.
dddhhh (Maryland)
I'd really like to hear more from Manchin on this. This reads as though his opposition to the Democratic proposals is nonsensical and not in the interest of his voter base. Maybe that is the case. But maybe there are other factors as well. For example: Are other states getting more $$ under the democratic proposals? As a right-leaning Democrat, he may be agreeable to other states getting less rather than his state getting more. Also, given his standing as one of the few Democrats in a Republican state, he might be thinking about re-election, and if he was voted out, how likely is it that his replacement would be further to the right?
Partha Neogy (California)
Decades in the future, I hope, renewable energy will have replaced fossil fuels and we will have learned to adapt better to climate change thanks to the leadership of parts of the world other than the United States. We will be asking ourselves: What was Joe Manchin thinking? What were we as a nation thinking?
The Commodore (California)
This is great. First Bernie Sanders (a Senator from the state roughly the size of Staten Island, just to follow Mr. Krugman's population comparison analysis) and now Paul Krugman are telling West Virginians what is and is not important for them. As Bill Maher (hardly a right wing nut) very intelligently suggested that it is possible that Manchin and Sinema have a finger on the pulse of their states constituents and have a better idea about what they want than the outsiders. As for "scorched-earth Republican opposition to anything Biden might propose", Mr. Krugman knows how to turn the phrase. Wasn't there enough Republican support to pass the Infrastructure bill, that was held up by the Democratic leadership? That bill would create well paying jobs benefiting all the states, including West Virginia. And one last observation: to suggest that just because investments in fraking comes from outside investors it does not help the local economy is simply wrong, and i am sure Mr. Krugman knows it. The jobs created by those outside investors would be local, and the money would most definitely help the local economy.
Jim Remington (Eugene)
Everyone seems to agree that Kyrsten Sinema is a complete mystery, although her intense interest in funding from large corporations is certainly suggestive. But is Joe Manchin any less of a mystery? My guess is that he is driven by the same things the drive the Trump -- both have an absurdly inflated sense of self importance and a driving need to attract attention to themselves. That their behavior is utterly irrational and inexplicable is just the icing on the cake.
K Raymond (Pa)
well said .. Manchin is stale and his personal interests outweigh his responsibilities as a public servant.
Tail Dragger (Auburn, GA)
As a native of West (By God!) Virginia, I am fully aware of the state's reputation over the years as under educated, dominated by coal interests, and backward. In 1956 the NYT called the West Virginia Turnpike the "road to nowhere." School children there, including me, were challenged to prove the title wrong. Now the climate change denier and social change resister Manchin projects the ignorance and backwardness we natives rebelled against.
Neil Robinson (New Mexico)
@Tail Dragger I am not a native, but I lived in West Virginia for several years and I can attest to the fundamental kindness of its people, even those with not much to share. I also can attest to the ill-informed electorate consistently voting in ignorance and against its own interests. These votes frequently resulted from a desperate search for decent jobs combined with lies told to the public by rich Republicans and the GOP stalwarts who supported (and still support) the coal and chemical industries.
Mickie (West Baltimore)
When Manchin was on his "yacht" having a nice time! He was looking down at the protesters in smaller boats. Me against them attitude terrible optics! Think of your constituents for God's Sake!
Michael (Apple Valley MN)
As Mitch McConnell once said to Barak Obama "You are under the impression that I care," so says Sen Manchin to the people that elected him.
Scott (Paul votes for Trumps tax cut in 2017)
So, I guess my hope is for devastating climate disasters to hit West Virginia and Arizona, then maybe the Dems can cram some climate and voting remedies in the relief bill.
Real Observer (Ca)
At least 2.3 million children-the most vulnerable of the vulnerable, have not been reached by the child tax credit even in 2021. The parents need to be registered with the irs to receive money,monthly. that goes towards baby food and diapers, and many are not. The GOP is particularly brutal towards immigrants-both legal and undocumented,and babies and children in poor families suffer the most. There is little left for the parents after paying the rent,food and for health care.
Samuel Taylor (Colorado Springs, CO)
Both Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are thoughtful and reasonable people and they are right to stand up against the irresponsible spending being proposed by the Biden administration. America was energy independent until the current administration cancelled the Canadian pipeline, banned fracking on federal lands and stopped petroleum at many locations. Now, all Americans are paying much higher costs for energy and the poor people a suffering the most!
M-in-Vegas (Las Vegas, NV)
@Samuel Taylor America is still energy independent, just as it was during the Obama years, just as it will continue to be forever. I know Republicans love the idea of taking land from Americans via eminent domain and then handing it over to foreign oil interests, but that's totally unrelated to energy independence. The oil in that pipeline wasn't even going to Americans -- that's why it went all the way to the Gulf! Also, energy independence has nothing whatsoever to do with West Virginia. Ask yourself why you believe obviously false things.
Jeff (Denver, CO)
It seems to me that someone has information on Manchin that would be devastating to him if it was made public. Yes he appears to be comprised by those who have made his lifestyle possible, but it doesn't fully explain his level of obstinance.
nmsecoy (Seabrook Island, SC)
Manchin wants to act as President and run the country, and the Democratic Party is letting him do it. As I've written before, stop him by funding an opponent to primary him, interceding with donors, withhold DNC funding, even oppose anything he particularly wants for his state. Publicly lay the blame for his dismantling the Democratic agenda and perhaps even the Biden Presidency.
Wouldn't it be enlightening to hear a live debate between Senators Manchin and Sanders, in West Virginia, about the relative merits or costs of President Biden's "Build Back Better" plan?
b fagan (chicago)
When low-population, low-income Alaska realized they were going to become a fossil-fuel-dependent petrostate, they set up a revenue sharing fund for all residents. Checks in the mail. Have to coal millionaires and billionaires in West Virginia done the same, as they work to keep the state's economy tied firmly to a commodity the world is moving away from?
Richard Wilson (Boston,MA)
"The problem is that he seems to have a decades-out-of-date vision of what his state needs. And that distorted vision is now endangering America’s future." I suspect Mr. Krugman is likely being far too generous is describing Senator Manchin's motivation. This really seems like one of those "Occam's razor" moments. He's corrupt to the core and is doing the bidding of those who are making the largest contributions to his campaign while pandering to the racists in his constituency.
EE (East Coast)
Wait twenty years when high speed internet and remote working really is entrenched and the people working and making money move to places like West Virginia, and Brooklyn is filled with baristas and bartenders wondering where the money went
zeke27 (Hudson Valley, NY)
it must be hard to see West Virginia from the cocktail deck of Manchin's boat in the DC basin. Maybe he should dock it in Paw Paw so that he can get the latest dreary economic picture first hand. It's a sure bet that his coal sponsors aren't telling him much that is real and his fellow millionaires in the Senate have never been to West Virginia.
Peter Muennig (East Village)
Biden wants fracking. WV has shale. Can't we get the New New Deal in exchange for a temporary subsidy? Manchin probably doesn't want to be reflected on poorly in history books. There is some kind of deal to cut with the devil.
Chris (Tilghman)
How do you explain that over 70% of Americans are good with bbb?? you just never get around to the substance of the matter just cost but somehow wars and tax cuts are no problem.
Tim Kulhanek (Dallas)
Because they think it’s free for them; “those people” will pay for it. The interesting point is approval drops to about a third when the question encompasses some contribution by the responder. I think that says it all.
Barbara Barran (Brooklyn, NY)
Joe Manchin knows exactly what most West Virginians want: to keep black and brown people from getting benefits. They would rather do without than see "those people" in the big cities get money to help THEIR children. As for climate change, the good news, as far as West Virginians are concerned, is that California is on fire, and that NYC and Miami may be inundated. Give it to "those people"! If West Virginians really cared about helping themselves, would they have voted in such great numbers for Donald Trump, who gave them nothing except permission to voice their bigotry in public?
JMT (Mpls)
Look at Manchin's expensive hand tailored suits. Bought and paid for by....
Jack Robinson (Colorado)
For someone who has been a nobody nationally for his entire career, it is pretty heady stuff to suddenly be the center of national attention and the most "important" legislator in the US. TV appearances, interviews, personal time with the President, and lots of photos and requests for appointments can easily turn the head of a wannabe narcissist. Not to mention protecting his own financial interestrs.
CarolinaJoe (NC)
Give Manchin something big that could be viewed as transformational for WV. Something that will generate 100,000 well paying jobs that don’t require college education. Make WV a poster boy for economic renewal. Given the size of the state it may not involve huge amount of money, but if successful, can produce an example for other rural states to follow.
Cody McCall (tacoma)
Manchin is a multi-millionaire D.I.N.O. whose wealth is based on coal. It's no mystery what drives his 'interests' and votes.
Mary (Brooklyn)
West Virginia has legions of formerly employed coal workers who have been waiting for those jobs to return... Trump suckered them into thinking he would return coal to its former glory making WV a Trumpist state...but coal is not coming back, at best it will be phased out as other energy forms that are somewhat cleaner, cheaper are phased in. The sooner WV residents are trained for other kinds of jobs, re-engineer their own thinking for a better economy the better. Joe Manchin is hanging on to the past by a rapidly unraveling thread and subjecting his constituents to a fairy tale that will never come true. Yes, the infrastructure bill (repairing the existing infrastructure of the past) and the BBB (innovating and creating the infrastructure of the future) will be large expensive outlays of taxpayer money. We've done very little in the way of serious investment into our infrastructure resources, and human resources over the last 4-5 decades which is WHY the cost seems so large. It will only cost more the longer we delay, and the costs of not addressing the changing climate will dwarf any costs in either plan by tenfold at least. Joe is hurting his own constituents, his party and his country with his personal agenda and obstructing attitude. Sinema, I don't know what game she is playing but she needs to own up to what the heck she is about or make no plans to run again.
Barbara (NYC)
I'm midway through Thomas Frank's "What's the Matter With Kansas?" first published in 2004. Different state, but same issue - the constituents supporting policies and politicians which decidedly are not in their own best interest.
Cassandra (Arizona)
Let's assume that Manchin has the best of motives. How is it that the future of the United States can depend on the misconceptions of a single person who is put into office by a tiny number of voters?
EE (East Coast)
@Cassandra It’s not held up by one single person, it’s held up by the majority of United States senators.
WilliamO. Beeman (San Jose, CA)
Professor Krugman is too kind to Joe Manchin. He is simply corrupt. I agree with the "follow the money" crowd. The fossil fuel industry is contributing to him in huge oceans of money. The pharmaceutical industry is not far behind, and it is clear that the Koch Brothers oppose anything that smacks of "welfare," because they are in the church of Grover Norquist. Manchin's seat is safe for a few years, and if the Democrats' needed plans for curtailing climate change collapse because of his singular obstinacy he figures West Virginians will forget about his actions. Sadly, he cannot be voted out of office in time to save our nation from climate and economic disaster immediately, but it might be possible to increase the Democratic presence in the Senate to render him irrelevant. Every effort should be made to do this.
Ubcome (Brooklyn)
We need to stop telling people how Joe Manchin is not voting their interests without explaining how 50 other Senators also don't. Just because he's a Democrat doesn't mean he should be getting so much of the well deserved criticism and scrutiny. He's far from the worse hypocrite. Mr. Krugman should do this kind of analysis one Senator at a time. (I do hope he starts with Republicans.) While he's at it, please tell us how much richer each member of Congress has gotten from their position of power, (and I don't mean campaign contributions) while they vote against policies that will help their constituents. That might just get people angry enough to vote them out or at least stay home on election day.
Wilma (NJ)
Exactly WHERE in WV do Manchin's constituents live and work? He needs to get off that fancy boat of his and take a walking tour throughout WV to meet and talk with his constituents and see how they actually live and support themselves. Get himself educated by the people he is supposed to represent.
Glenn (Cali, Colombia)
Thanks for including the links Paul, although seeing Manchin's funding sources is downright depressing. Our democracy is a cruel joke. Seeing all the special interests that support his campaign, no fair-minded person can say he lacks conflicts of interest. Indeed, this is legalized bribery. And how is it possible that someone earning 500,000 dollars a year from the coal industry can sink the federal government's entire climate plan?
EE (East Coast)
Put up individual bills and force a vote on them. If you have to, have a vote on closing a filibuster on individual bills. Then at the next election the senator from Wisconsin or Virginia or Florida or Arizona wherever can explain why he or she voted for or against a bill and the voters can decide what to do. Maybe they stand up and say I voted because Mitch McConnell told me to and maybe the voters like that, but let’s find out. These omnibus all in one bills are anti-democratic.
diderot (portland or)
Unless the electoral college is abandoned and/or the Supreme Court is expanded and/or term limits are instituted and/or the filibuster is busted we will be indefinitely consigned to observing our government emulating the Greek god Sisyphus, with progressive and fair legislation substituting for boulders.
EE (East Coast)
@diderot so out another way, you don’t believe in the constitution or American democracy?
M-in-Vegas (Las Vegas, NV)
@EE You mean the "democracy" where the party with far fewer votes and far fewer constituents gets to run things? No, I don't believe in that. Also, the Constitution specifically allows Congress to decide the make-up of the Supreme Court. You might profit by reading that document sometime.
diderot (portland or)
@EE America has never been a democracy. It was founded as a slave holding nation where blacks were fractionally human and women weren't worthy of the vote.It has haphazardly lurched toward democracy since the civil war but our last President has shown us how frail our democratic structure is. As for the Constitution, it was constructed by a few white men in powdered whigs based on what men in colonial England and France thought and wrote.
Bill B. (Portland, OR)
He's abusing his power for personal gain. He is participating in future damage and death due to climate change. He seems stuck in another era and he clearly does not have America's best interests in mind. The ultimate irony would be him not being re-elected due to his terrible decision making helping us get a GOP controlled Senate and paving the way for more trumpism, but the way things are going in the Democratic party that seems inevitable at this point unless something dramatically changes and quick! Sad times when we thought nearly a year ago that we might be through with them for a while.
David Martin (Vero Beach, Fla.)
As others have noted, West Virginia is a state whose voters overwhelmingly supported Trump in the last election. That being the case, Sen. Manchin's constituents are likely to support skimpy federal spending until there's a Republican president and perhaps a Republican senator. Congress may be Republican in 2023 and if Democrat's don't or can't pass voting legislation, our next president is pretty likely to be Republican.
EE (East Coast)
What does any of this have to do with the infrastructure bill that house progressives are holding up?
Kevin Skiles (Salem, 0regon)
You mean the bill that progressives were told would be part of a two bill package?
ALM (Brisbane, CA)
Joe Manchin is a champion of bipartisanship while the Republicans, especially their leader Mitch McConnell, do everything to sabotage bipartisanship. Joe, where is the beef in your bipartisanship?
Amsivarian (North)
"The problem is that he seems to have a decades-out-of-date vision of what his state needs. And that distorted vision is now endangering America’s future. These out of date ideas and visions are prevalent across the whole spectrum of policies in this country. Take the lack of parental leave, not to mention a complete lack of associated male versus female versus non-traditional family leave policies, non-existent guarantees of basic health care, low to mediocre wages in many jobs, miserly pensions, yawning income gaps, huge wealth disparities, crippling education costs, the inability of this country to own up to its violent and racist history, the ongoing disenfranchisement of large groups of our citizenry, ... the list just goes on. Instead, we have predominantly white, old, if not ancient politicians (average age in the senate is 64??? really?) insisting to define the future of multiple younger generations of citizens they are supposed to serve and represent that have completely different value systems and attitudes, not to mention, who will have to deal with the mess these old miserly men and women are creating. This country needs a revolution and not the kind of 1/6.
dchrism (Olympic Peninsula)
Manchin and Sinema - DINOs, hopefully soon to be extinct.
Michael Seneca25 (SENECA, SC)
The state motto of South Carolina is "Thank god for west virginia."
EE (East Coast)
Perhaps Manchin has a better idea what the voters of West Virginia want than a New York Times columnist.
Sage (California)
@EE No, he doesn't. The programs that are part of Build Better Back would be very good for the people of such an impoverished state. Look, WVA currently takes a fair share of federal dollars (from wealthier, highly taxed Blue States), so why not give WVA residents a chance to change their economic status that the Climate Change jobs could provide for them? They can transform their lives while they perform an extremely important task--changing the current fossil fuel electricity grid to renewables. It is a win-win!
Kevin Skiles (Salem, 0regon)
Perhaps he could ask them, instead of assuming he knows.
Zezee (Vermont)
Actually Biden’s plan is immensely popular in West Virginia. Manchin is breaking his promises to the people—because he owes his big donors and he is heavily invested in coal.
CaptRick1974 (Southwick MA)
Paul Krugman is taking on Joe Manchin for his opposition to the $3.5 trillion (+) 'social infrastructure' bill, hitting him on the bill's inclusion of items on climate change and child care. An omnibus porkulus bill that stretches to include all the goodies in the Democratic goody-bin from climate change to child care is not what a country looking at gazillion-dollar debt and deficits from here to eternity needs. And the House and Senate should decouple this multi-thousand page monstrosity, separate it into logical pieces of legislation that can be discussed and promoted or demoted on their merits and their stated aims, and get down to legislating, a lost art among their efforts to fleece and bamboozle the public. Krugman should know this as an economist, and observer of government.
sloreader (CA)
@CaptRick1974 But the Trump tax cuts were just what the country needed, right?
EE (East Coast)
As an aside, sending money to people in the mail is going to end up delivering the house and senate to republicans. This is not Denmark or Canada, Democrats are misreading the politics of this country.
Zezee (Vermont)
Actually the majority of Americans support Biden’s plan. But don’t worry! Americans will never have what citizens of every other first world nation on earth have had for decades! Tax cuts for the rich! Burn, earth, burn!
Kevin Skiles (Salem, 0regon)
You actually think not being Denmark or Canada is a good thing?
Peter (Albany. NY)
@Kevin Skiles I do. Please dont go on about how big government socialism has been superior to our long standing history of capitalism.
MCK (Inwood, NYC)
I donate every month to the DCCC. Here is what I want my money to go to, because if Biden's agenda is killed by Manchin and Sinema the Republicans will certainly take back the House and Senate and may even get Trump reelected...which would be the biggest disaster for the country and for the world since the 1930s: Every television station and radio station that reaches both West Virginia and Arizona should be blanketed with slick, informative commercials telling people what is actually in the Biden investment plan for all Americans, instead of the 10 year cost...which is usually portrayed in the media as if it were a 1 year, $3.5 trillion dollar expenditure on "welfare for THEM". (Fill in the blank for your local definition of "THEM") And every commercial should end with a statement that their senator, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, respectively, is standing in the way of investing in the future of America and the American people. And then include the numbers of the senator's office to call or text to protest this malfeasance. The right wing has dominated the conversation in the United States since 1968. If anti-authoritarians don't start communicating effectively, we will end up with a de facto one party country.
Mathew Carniol (New York)
'... and wants to impose work requirements on the child tax credit.' There absolutely should be work requirements for the child tax credit. It's totally irresponsible for people with no jobs (visible means of support) to have kids and paying a child tax credit will only incentivize them to have more. And oh, explain to me exactly why I should pay for them. Instead, let's provide a living wage for people to NOT have kids and attend a college or trade school so that they have a chance to stand on their own two feet.
Zezee (Vermont)
How about free community college or vocational education so that all our youth can have a chance for a productive life. And living wage jobs for all.
AS (mA)
@Mathew Carniol This explains the child tax credit. This includes families who are working
Kevin Skiles (Salem, 0regon)
Combined with suppression of immigration, that's going mean a lot of poopy Depends, with no one to change them.
M Martínez (Miami)
West Virginians need help. They have the lowest per capita income in America, after Mississippi. If we research the price of homes in their state vs similar properties in other states, we will find a dramatic difference as a result of poverty. But don't worry, we have a plan to help President Biden in case the politician you mention blocks the projects you wisely defended. Democrats need to improve majorities in 2022 in order to liberate the party. With political discipline it is quite possible. And it would be impossible to block. Just wait and see. By the way, we found a $32,000 home in zip code 26205. Maybe it needs remodeling, but at that price you can only buy a bathroom in other cities. More than 30 days in the market!
chairmanj (left coast)
The motivating force for many seems to be to make sure no "undeserving" people get help. They would rather struggle themselves than take a chance on that happening. Manchin might well be responding to his base.
Pete (ohio)
Like Manchin said; if you want more liberal policies then you need to elect more liberals. He is solidly a mountaineer, and hasn’t changed positions in years. Blaming Manchin for lack of votes when you have a 50-50 split seems pretty short sighted. Blame Biden for misunderstanding this, he was in the senate for 30+ years.
JSS (Virginia)
@Pete The irony in this article is that Paul Krugman (from NY/Boston/Princeton (and Bernie Sanders) think they know better than Manchin about what West Virginians want. Manchin - from Farmington, WV - was elected to the House of Delegates, state senate, WV Sec of State, and the US Senate. Maybe West Virginians can decide what (and who) West Virginians want?
CarolinaJoe (NC)
@Pete Don’t we know that Biden’s agenda, when each item is listed separately, is very popular in WV? It is the right wing propaganda that is capable of turning every single pro-American proposal into liability. The sad reality is that it is American conservatism that has a strong grip on poor rural folks, through evangelical congregations, right wing TV and radio, and keeps them attached to them. For Manchin it is now really hard to make a move. In my opinion he is done because any crazy trumpist can win his seat now. Going hard for WV may be his only chance.
Zezee (Vermont)
Ernest Z (CA)
At least the Roman Emperor Nero played the fiddle while his country went up in flames. Manchin and people like him seem content to simply watch and do nothing while climate change causes calamity after calamity. Those who state that we cannot afford to rush into trillions of dollars to start (yes, start) to address climate change need to be reminded of the old saying about being penny wise and pound foolish. That climate change is going to cost trillions of dollars is simply accepting reality. There’s no getting around that fact. What we get to choose is do we pay upfront to mitigate the multiple disasters awaiting us, or do we pay it after the fact, cleaning up after those disasters destroy communities, livelihoods, and lives. Mother Nature has put it thusly: “Pay me now or pay me later.” But pay we will.
baba (ganoush)
Let's hope selfish, obstructionist, greedy, deceptive, attention seeking politicians like Manchin and Cinema never get to the White House.
Beto (nicaragua)
Work requirements don't produce jobs, just more bureaucracy. West Virginia should be skeptical, because worker retraining programs didn't produce jobs either. Manchin needs to think through solutions for his constituents. Will everybody earn adequate wages on infrastructure projects? If not, how do the rest thrive? How does life get better?
Kathleen (NH)
Investing in children is investing in the future. Lots of studies have been done to support that economic dividends are paid back years down the road when you invest in children's health, education and emotional well-being. But years is longer than political and news cycles. We fail to see the horizon when all we want to look at is our own two feet.
DaDa (Chicago)
Anyone, like Manchin, working to block the legislation that would lessen death and destruction throughout the nation (let alone in his own state) is unworthy of the office he holds. Why give him the benefit of the doubt when he's so clearly tied to coal lobbyists and his own stock portfolio? As a resident of a Blue state, my campaign contributions will be far more effective in getting rid of radical, right-wing obstructionists like Manchin, so that's where my donations will go. I hope others do the same.
Robert Thomas (San Diego)
Widely reported that Joe Manchin raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars from donors in the energy industry. Overwhelmingly more concerned about his own interests than those of the people of West Virginia.
JSS (Virginia)
What Paul is missing is that not some people think that the government isn't the solution to everything. Some folks still ask questions like "even if it benefits me, is that a good idea for the country?" and "can we afford that?"
Zezee (Vermont)
Can we afford tax cuts for the rich? Can we afford NOT to invest in our families, our youth, and our planet?
CarolinaJoe (NC)
@JSS If these were the questions people really asked themselves we would not have problem passing Biden’s agenda. But people are not that smart, unfortunately. Now, is government the solution to everything? Well, look at all the things government solved, from establishing national parks, Public Education, through Medicare, and to Social Security, and you may conclude that there are still many problems that only government can solve.
Ted Flunderson (Austin)
There are always politicians who go against their party. Murkowski, Collins, and Romney on the right saved us from many of the excesses that would have happened if the GOP had full power during the dark days of Trump. The massive power that gets unleashed by having a majority of just one vote is tempered by these folks who say "not so fast". In that sense, these holdouts play a useful purpose in stabilizing politics and encouraging bipartisan compromise. Those who wish to see such disloyalty eliminated are not seeking freedom and proportional representation. They are seeking unbridled political dominance over the minorities (which are currently the right). While that power can and should serve the people, we all know what absolute power does.
Jackson (Southern California)
How to justify that two senators (two!) representing states whose total combined populations represent less than 10% of the nation's populace have the power to control what does and does not become the law of the land? Is it any wonder that public trust and confidence in Congress is in the basement.
William (WV)
@Jackson The intended workings of the Constitution when we have a closely split electorate.
Carla (Arizona)
Joe “Mansion” isn’t short-changing his constituency - he’s genuinely repping them. Despite the sensible WV kayakers who recently found Mansion on his yacht, the majority of WV voters are GOP. And those people don’t want government help even though they stand to gain from Biden’s policies. You can see this across our country. Years of Limbaugh, Reaganomics, Fox, QAnon, etc. has convinced GOP voters that the government can only harm, not help. Democrats in the media world would do well to produce programming that highlights successful countries with governments that work for the populace (Denmark, Japan, etc.).
Nan (WV)
@Carla Even Republicans in WV are in support of the Build Back Better plan. The majority of voters in both parties want and need this plan to pass but our supposed representatives - particularly "GottaGoJoe" - are just not listening. He only listens to the corporate lobbyists who put money where it counts to Manchin - in his pockets and the coffers of his campaign chest.
Carla (Arizona)
@Nan As an Arizona Democrat I understand the pain.
ALM (Brisbane, CA)
What if Joe Manchin focussed his attention on creating jobs for West Virginians rather than on asking them to find non-existent jobs. This is a problem with some politicians, such as Joe Manchin, who believe that poor people don't work because they are lazy when the reality is that poor people are poor because they cannot find jobs. Maybe Joe Machin should go in the business of finding jobs for his constituents rather than biasing himself in favor of plutocrats.
Christopher Walker (Denver)
I don’t think “follow the money” is cynical. It’s merely an application of Occam’s Razor.
Sara (Maine)
Sadly, the most cynical takes on politicians’ behavior are almost always right. Joe Manchin cares about nothing but keeping those campaign donations flowing in and his own personal enrichment. That’s our politics today: broken broken broken.
Mrinal Jhangiani (New York)
If he truly cared for his state and his people - he would... 1. Negotiate the maximum amount of funding for his state from Biden's plan. 2. He would think, let me see how I can use my power to bring in extra benefits to my people so they can thrive. 3. Make sure that uneducated and coal trained West Virginians who still believe they can and must save coal - be given the best educational and vocational retraining. 4. Heck, I'd be willing to throw in some sort of coal pension for each retired or retiring miner. But, clearly Manchin is only for Manchin Wake up people of West Virginia, your Senator is one in name only.
Dawg01 (Seattle)
West Virginia is so bad that they have begun to bribe people to move there. How ironic, huh, Manchin?
Bob in NM (Los Alamos, NM)
Just follow the money - all the way to Manchin's $250,000 yacht "Almost Heaven" comfortably moored on the Potomac River. He didn't get the money for that from his Senate salary.
Anne (Austin)
I am not giving another dime to the Democratic party unless I am assured that none of my contribution ends up in the hands of these two grandstanding know-nothings!
Suzanne Wheat (North Carolina)
I am sick to death of Manchin and Sinema. They are the advance guard in destroying democracy and the people of the US. I have got to thinking that having children is a serious liability. Only the wealthy can afford it.
Smithtown nyguy (Smithtown, ny)
A lot of kids in WV and this country are being raised by grandparents. If the parents of these kids are nowhere to be found, do we want to deny support for these children? This would be a BIG help to a lot of kids in this country, Sen. Manchin should think deeply about this point.
Guest666 (Meridian, CA)
I have read all sorts of stories about Mr. Manchin and Ms. Sinema in the past few weeks. Yes, it is too bad that they have the power and apparent desire to stop anything and everything. But, I cannot help but wonder what will happen once Biden's "Better" bill is whittled down and hamstrung to their liking. Why wouldn't McConnell then step in with some "second thoughts" about supporting the infrastructure bill? After all, his strategy is to make the Democrats look incapable of governing. As long as Manchin and Sinema are doing this for him he need do nothing. If they ever are on board somehow with something, why would he not then step in and throw a monkey wrench in whatever they need to pass? I, for one, and still completely behind Biden and the Democratic Party. I admire the quiet competance of much of what the Biden Administration has done recently. From getting a coalition of foreign countries to temporarily accept Afghanistan refugees to rolling back many of the worst excesses of the previous administration. I am sorry that they do not have a large enough majority to get major changes through. But what I am especially thankful for is that Biden is not Trump.
Real Observer (Ca)
The planet is in peril and Joe Manchin and the coal companies,and the supporters of fossil fuel, are standing in the way of action. A few thousand votes in West Virginia are holding the entire world hostage. If west virginia ends up under water,along with much of Britain because of rising sea levels, historians will point to Joe Manchin and the oil and coal lobbies.
W.B. (WA)
Did you know? Joe Manchin III has been such an exemplary human being over the last several decades, his visage has been sculpted and cast in bronze. I'm sure we can all recall the astonishing accomplishments of Mr. Manchin's career, starting with attaining the rank of Eagle Scout.
sloreader (CA)
The more populous areas of the country are already underrepresented in the Senate and the filibuster compounds the problem to the extent that next to nothing gets done without the blessing of a holdout Senator or two from predominantly rural states. Manchin's stated unwillingness to do away with it demonstrates the woeful imbalance, much to the disadvantage of the country as a whole.
Paine (London)
Perhaps Senator Manchin is unable to determine what is in the best interests of his State or the American people generally? Maybe he is pursuing his own agenda and fulfilling what he perceives are the wishes of his local electors, or is just a marionette dancing for his donors and lobbyists? It is unclear what his thinking is. He appears to be a Dino - a Democrat in name only. From afar it is very odd that Senator McConnell and Senator Manchin can simply block what a freshly-elected President Biden seeks to achieve. It appears Biden wants the USA to compete in, progress at, and win in 21st century technologies not continue with the carbon intensive technology/industry from last century. Should the US falter in harnessing new technologies for the benefit of all its people (and US Courts established that Corporations have human rights too) its relative decline internationally appears assured. In the US the relative poverty West Virginians currently enjoy may persist. But Senator Manchin can retire to his wee boat, sip cocktails and marvel at what he achieved. How he earned his “15 minutes”.
riverrunner (NC)
Joe, your feelings, sentiments, warm memories, and associated beliefs, sad to say, are not reasonable ways to make decisions about legislation. Science is. It is not political, it is just the only method (methods really) that allow people to learn facts, and how facts come to be, and what they will likely become, independent of what we feel. Joe the scientific method is why coal was mined in West Virginia in the first place, why you can fly there in an airplane from Washington D.C., etc. etc. etc.. If Mr. Krugman is right, and you want to do the right thing, know that the world is changing very quickly, and using the scientific method to decide how to respond to those changes, including legislation The scientific method got us here, and technology made us, and might destroy us. If we really care for, our children, and grandchildren, and want them to survive those changes with as little destruction as possible, we have to dance with who brung us. Science brung us.
Sajwert (NH)
Joe Manchin should be asked if he wants elderly grandparents caring for grandkids due to their parents using alcohol and drugs to go find jobs in order to feed and clothe these kids. Joe Manchin reminds me of a shoe repairman I asked for kids shoes that were never claimed so as to give them to the organization I volunteered for. Many of those kids had a real need for decent shoes. He agreed to give me a good number of them ONLY on the promise that NO KID would get shoes if their parents were not hardworking and did not use alcohol or drugs. He kept the shoes. I found another source whose compassion and help made the shoe repairman seem even more petty and mean.
Steve (Philadelphia)
The irony upon ironies is that states like West Virginia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, Wyoming and similarly situated states have real and economically viable alternatives in play if they would just get their heads out of their you know whats. Electric vehicles, digital transformation, renewable energy, next-gen battery technology, vertical and renewable agriculture are just a few of the still early stage development trends that will shape the US and world economy for generations. These are potentially democratizing enterprises that will help rebalance the employer-employee scale at a time when we see more than 90% of the world's wealth controlled by 1%. It's outrageous, it's undemocratic and it is killing the US and quickly moving us out of the realm of superpower to super has been. Manchin is just one of the cogs in this omnipresent problem that only voters can rectify. C'mon, America! Live up to your promise!
CanadianBoy (Canada)
"More than 99.9% of peer-reviewed scientific papers agree that climate change is mainly caused by humans, according to a new survey of 88,125 climate-related studies."
Nan (WV)
Mr. Krugman, as a West Virginia voter I am not cynical at all when I state that Joe Manchin has absolutely zero interest in the needs or wellbeing of the people in this state. For years I have watched this supposed Democrat toady to the two worst types of corporate raiders who have raped our state for centuries: Big Coal and Big Pharma. Please don't give this puppet masquerading as a Senator the slightest benefit of any doubt; Joe Manchin is only protecting the interests of Joe Manchin and his corporate overlords, to the detriment of the people who elected him to serve. West Virginia needs the Build Back Better Plan and the majority of voters in both parties support it. But Manchin is not listening to his own constituents, only to the big money donors who have bought and paid for him time and time again. We deserve better.
Michael W. Espy (Flint, MI)
As long as Poor white Folk continue to vote against their own Economic Interests, and voting for their so-called white Privilege, the Masters of this Capitalist Market Economy will remain quite satisfied. The rest of us Little Folk, not so much.
TOM (Irvine, CA)
Perhaps the West Virginia experiment has failed?Maybe they should rejoin Virginia. A win-win for everyone.
William (WV)
@TOM Tell you what, you convince the Old Dominion to invite us back and I'll convince West Virginia to accept the invite the following day.
TOM (Irvine, CA)
On it. ;)
bl (rochester)
Perhaps more could be said about how current EPA regulations targeting co2 utility emissions will only lead to higher rates for the customers of such utilities. Manchin's unwillingness to subsidize utility investments in renewable energy sources because it pays companies to do what they should be doing can only lead to higher prices for the customers of those companies who don't want to or can't afford to invest in non fossil fuel energy. It is beyond bizarre for a senator from a poor state to support a policy that will only lead to higher electricity prices for many of his state residents. How is it that there is apparently so little pushback from WV residents, not to mention media and other democrats, that manchin feels he can get away with his current idiotic nyet nyet because he has so few vocal and sustained opponents to counter? A completely different aspect about the over the top hypocrisy within manchin's nyet nyet is the issue of fossil fuel subsidies that the federal government has shelled out for decades to fossil fuel companies, be they explorers or refiners. This is, by its very definition, paying fossil fuel based companies with tax dollars to do what they'd do anyway. It merely enables them to so so and make a higher profit. Why is it that manchin has not been forced to acknowledge this basic contradiction in his asinine objection to the conversion funding plan? Will a carbon tax be a silver lining to emerge from this pathetic absurdity?
sapere aude (Maryland)
Joe Manchin: The Audacity of Nope
Dimitraki (Grand Rapids, MI)
I followed your link to the Reuters article and saw this sentence: “In 2020 alone, Manchin earned nearly $500,000 of income from Enersystems, and he owns as much as $5 million worth of stock in the company, according to his most recent financial disclosure.” The conflict of interest seems so blatant. Why isn’t this delved into more deeply in this paper? Why have to link to Reuter’s or other news sources? I’ve read so many articles about Manchin but they always seem to dance around his conflicts of interest. This should be shouted from the rooftops. Are the other senators bound by some sort of honor code not to call him out on this or will this open a Pandora’s box on their own conflicts?
Richard Stiefel (Brazil)
Many decades ago I read about an area that had a limited future for the residents ( happened to be discussing high school football ) The point was made that when in that situation what is most needed is a "one way ticket to anywhere" Given flooding of low lying areas, industries shutting down and so on perhaps we could increase the conversation to giving people that one-way ticket to anywhere! OH The howls of "but this is our home"!!! Well, maybe you can do what millions do and --- find a new one!!!!
William (WV)
@Richard Stiefel More than a one-way ticket is needed for a viable program, but the general idea is not bad. Relocation assistance must include the above market-value purchase of the homes and lands left behind, assistance obtaining employment and purchasing homes in the new location, and some sort of safety-net just in case the promised land ends up also being a hard place to maintain employment paying a decent wage. It would also require something to appease the locals currently in the promised land who may not welcome outsiders coming in competing for jobs, depressing the wages, contributing to school overcrowding, traffic, urban sprawl.....
Real Observer (Ca)
The economy steadily grew from 2010 to 2016 and unemployment dropped,even after,and all this happened before the GOP tax bill. Then the GOP majority passed a big tax cut for Trump, his family, the ultrawealthy GOP donors and the oil and coal companies contributing to the GOP. Average americans and the vulnerable gained nothing from it. The GOP increased taxes on individuals in blue states,by imposing the SALT limit. The GOP tax bill produced no increase in wages for the average american and it produced no business investment or growth. The GOP sold it to americans with a pack of lies. It turned out to be snake oil. Companies bought back stock with the tax cuts, enriching executives and the ultrawealthy shareholders who own 90 percent of all stocks.50 percent of america owns no stocks and has little retirement savings. The GOP tax cuts,and the SALT limit need to be revoked. It will do no harm to companies.They thrived even when tax rates were higher. Company profits are determined by their products,services and competitiveness, not by taxes or tax cuts. The tax revenues should be used, amongst other things, for child tax credits and to combat climate change.
CarolG (Shorter, Alabama)
If we looked at death rates we would know more about how things were really going on. Senator Manchin pays no attention to how West Virginians are dying. In 1999 the death rate, deaths per 100,000, Non-Hispanic Whites aged 25-64 in West Virginia was 454.0 by 2019 it was up to 683.4. This was the largest increase in this age groups death rate in any state. Dr. G, CarolG's spouse and demographer.
F. Sneljiw (NL)
I've heard people say that politicians that promote progressive policies get progressive money and that politicians like mr. Manchin get other money because they propose other policies. That the money flow is not the cause but the effect. There is a dependancy though. Commitments are made. Reputations are on the line, as in the reputation of being reliable, mr. Manchin as he is seen through the eyes of his donors. And the doors of politicians are always open for the lobbyist of their respective donors. At the bare minimum: it leads to a more polarized political body, that it enlarges the differences that are already there and it decreases the ability to compromise, making it more difficult to make policy which is exactly what we're seeing. So politicians need not just votes but also money to campaign. So they need the money to get the votes. When money buys influence, than everyone needs to pay up or risk their interests not represented. This means the interests of those who do not pay or can't pay are not represented. It is of course the interests of those who pay, not the interests these donors say they represent. Just like the nra is not really representing gun owners who are big on gun safety. So what you are seeing is people who are merely representing. Reducing them to actors in a play, trying to get an emotional response in stead of leading.
David (Pacific Northwest)
Occams Razor is the best gauge of what's up with Manchin - and Sinema. Paul Krugman references "follow the money" then wishfully hoped what was happening wasn't that cynical. But that is the most obvious, clear cut and simplest solution to the situation presented. Both Manchin and Sinema are being motivated by personal gain. Manchin - both power and profits; Sinema - new-found wealth being showered from lobbyists for big pharma and oil / gas. Manchin has played the same game for years, but until now has been able to do it under the radar and get away with it. It is only now that his blatant self-interest is being outed. He only started to change his tune a bit once the pressures started to be made public in his home state; he is oblivious to publicity elsewhere - remember, W VA is a state with a large % of the population without even dial-up internet access, and local TV under control of Sinclair and Fox. Word is he has aspirations of running for Governor again after this term; having his state's newspapers and voters soured on him would not do. Sinema may have already burned her political bridges and will end up with a golden parachute job on a board of directors - and so may have little to lose by vengeful taking the system down with her on the way out the door - with a little curtsy and thumbs down in the process.
mary bardmess (camas wa)
West Virginia is a self-inflicted disaster. No one needs hard and soft infrastructure more. Their electric grid is failing. Sewer water is backing up in their homes literally every time it rains. Manchin's own home town is about to become inhabitable. All this misery in the midst of spectacular natural beauty yet their Senators do nothing and get re-elected. Perhaps eons from now future beings will wonder what happened to the humans. The answer will lie buried in the coal mines of West Virginia.
Bill Kaupe (Deleware)
Manchin is getting paid by fossil fuel. That's the story and it's no secret.
Robert McKee (Nantucket, MA.)
Reading the paper these days is to read about all these people in power who seem to want to hurt powerless people. Someday the powerless people are going to react. There is a limit, even if we don't know where it is...there is a limit.
Steve Holman (Bainbridge Island Wa)
Has anyone ever done a poll of WVA residents to see what they actually want? Why do we rely on Manchin to inform us what his constituents want? I bet the majority of residents of WVA want something entirely different than what Manchin proclaims. I think Manchin is a blend of ignorance, self-interest, and outdated thinking.
disheartened (California)
This is sweet, but Manchin cares only about himself. It is greed. He's a wealthy man who, like Mr. Burns, would throw it all away for just a little more...
Shahla (Colorado)
I'm so tired of Senator Manchin and the idea that only a Republican can win his seat if he were to fail to be re-elected. Maybe WV is just as sick of this selfish, out-of-touch yachter as everyone else. Isn't there one good Democrat in the state to take him on?
alank50 (Lansdowne)
Joe Manchin is, for all intents and purposes, a member of the Republican Treason Party. He is actively fighting his party's president on almost every front. Same goes for Sinema.
Mariayne (Baltimore)
Sounds like a Trump clone-benefits to your voters are accidental results of policy.
DGA (N Calif)
Kind of amazing that the Reactionaries, like Manchin, can’t understand that increasing the number of tax payers, ie people with real, adequate paying jobs, with benefits, will do oh so many good things for USA. That seems to be one, never mentioned goal, of ‘Build Back Better’. Trickle down long ago has been shown to be mythology.
Walt (Brooklyn)
Perhaps Democrats should abandon all the climate provisions. They are not Democrat only issues. They affect ALL of us. Focus instead on election reform and aid for kids and seniors, the people Democrats strive to protect. Americans never act until things are worse than they had to be. So in the true spirit of our fractured democracy, kick the can down the road for the next congress, senate or administration to deal with. Of course it will be too late but of course it already is. At some point even Republicans will have to act on climate. An imperiled population will demand it. True bipartisan action will only result from an even greater catastrophe than we are facing now. Meanwhile let's redress some of the damage Trump, McConnell (etc.) have callously wrought on our people. When it really hits the fan, we will come together, like the survivors in a lifeboat. Lifeboat U.S.A.
Bill Mumford (Danville, CA)
As a disclaimer, generally speaking, I've always thought PK's political ideology has wagged his economics analyses. So, let's score one for the dreary science on this article. Good job PK. That said, perhaps it might help when trying to understand a UNITED STATES Senator's view on a bill whose goal is to FUNDAMENTALLY TRANSFORM the country, then perhaps West Virginia and its pop. of less than 2 million souls, may not be the man's only calculus in play. Joe might not be looking myopically at what's good for his state, or god forbid, even what is best for Joe Biden and party. He might be considering the old Profile in Courage thing. Yes, I feel like I read that sometimes Senators should follow conscience and duty to country. Anyhow, I feel perhaps it's possible PK might've, for the sake of impartiality, (you know, like a scientist would) stated what JM has actually said were his reasons for opposition - besides - the 'Clean energy' portion; last month Manchin said, "Instead of rushing to spend trillions on new government programs and additional stimulus funding, Congress should hit a strategic pause ... warranted because it will allow us to determine whether inflation is transitory or not ... We must allow for a complete reporting and analysis of the implications a multi-trillion-dollar bill will have for this generation and the next." Anyhow, just thought I'd add that pesky Senatorial Duty thing into the question of why Manchin may be in oppo. to the bill.
Tim (WV)
As a West Virginian, let me add some insight. Manchin is an old school Democrat meaning he is for the working folk, be it through unions or other pro worker formats. He is also a poll watcher. It doesn't do anything until he gets a feel about his constituents are thinking. His uncle was a hands on type of politician, literally. He is not a progressive, so everyone needs to get past that hope. Being a small, mostly rural state, we simply don't have the diversity of people like most other states. So our views between Republican and Democrats are not that different and Manchin knows this. A lot of the people here look to live a particular simple lifestyle, so saying that not passing this bill would hurt these folks is really not going to fly here. Poor is poor. Adding a little bit more misery may not even register with some of these people. I consider myself as very liberal within this state and I don't necessarily disagree with all that Manchin is doing. I do understand why he does some of things he does and he is not going to change. I hope this helps on explaining why Joe does what Joe does.
W.B. (WA)
@Tim Thank you, it does help.
Lois (Minnesota)
You, as a citizen of West Virginia, may want to consider the possibility that in West Virginia "poor is poor" is the result of the failure to work for better opportunities by the people you elect, people like Joe Manchin
Eleanor (CT)
@Tim while it does my heart good to have an understanding of the inner workings of Joe Manchin's mind the fact is that WV is one state. They're entitled to think their own way - although I have to say it sounds like a pretty pathetic existence. Regardless the rest of the Democratic states don't think like WV and deserve representation. That one senator from one state made up of people too ignorant to help themselves is holding up the works for the rest of the country is the problem here. But thank god I now know Joe Manchin's thinking. That's a big help.
Pathfox (Kansas)
US citizens should be entitled to decent health/dental care, a good education, safe housing and childcare, a sound infrastructure, and a sustainable ecology. While Manchin floats his boat in style, 16% of WVA live in poverty, only 20% have more than a high school education, and the state takes in more in federal aid than it gives. We are becoming a 2nd world nation thanks to selfish, ignorant or uncaring congresspeople like him and Sinema. That they can derail the President's agenda, and the wishes of a majority of US citizens, is anathema and should be illegal.
HRW (Boston, MA)
Didn't Joe Manchin's daughter raise the price on EpiPens and take an 18 million dollar raise in salary? What a family! Joe Manchin is not interested in helping anyone except himself. How is he a Democrat?
Jojojo (Nevada)
I consider Manchin nothing less than a master thief. Imagine that, becoming a Democratic senator when you are in fact a hard right-wing operative. Shamelessness and the ability to steal are the name of the game in certain Washington circles and I'll bet when the Republicans, experts of course, see Manchin walking down the hallways of congress I'm sure they can't help but to show him a little extra respect. He is a purer specimen of what they themselves are. Unlike Manchin, however, these Republicans probably wouldn't stab their own mothers in the back. Who would have thought of such a thing as to lie to and betray your own party and therefore your own people to gain entrance into big money? Seems like it would be more trouble than it was worth what with the criticism and all. Most people find it hard to be that duplicitous and just recognize the Republican Party is more suited to this mindset and therefore register accordingly, but not Manchin. He'll stick with the Democratic Party. Joe is a giant among thieves.
Pitchforks: check Torches: check (Fl)
W. Virginia ranks dead last in Infrastructure 50th out of 50. That is the number one priority of a Senator , bringing home the Fed money to build and manage your bridges and highways. Joe Coal Baron Manchin is a failed Senator. Before that he was the Governor of W. Virginia. He failed at that. He could have weened the state from dirty 18th century fuels and made the state a leader in renewables. Just like his buddy Trump , everything he touches fails.
KlmR (US)
There are the raving and ranting delusional, like the former President and his band of insurrectionists. Then there are the quietly delusional, like Manchin who has a veneer of rationality, but whose positions are incoherent ,unsubstantiated and dangerous. Either he knows and doesn’t care, or he doesn’t know, nor care to know. Maybe he doesn’t get the suicidal direction of his policies. What do you do with someone who is sincere, but misguided? Make them senator in a knife’s edge situation. Oh America.
Gabriel (Seattle)
Sure would be nice if at least a couple Republicans had the courage to care for kids in the climate too.
Them (NYC)
Thank god for Joe Manchin. Democrats need an adult in the room.
John Morton (Florida)
Manchin will need Trump’s support to get re-elected. This is just a down payment
Jimd (Planet Earth)
Jeez, droughts in the American desert man I'm I glad liberal reporters are up to date on things. Build a big city right in the heart of a desert and then cross your fingers water will be plentiful
Claire Voyant (Logan, UT)
I think a work/school requirement would be fine, as long as going to school is included as a way to fulfill the requirement and parents of very young children have the option to stay home with them until they are ready for day care.
Katalina (Austin, TX)
In this photograph, you see the manicured fingers of Joe Manchin, along with the very nice clothes he is wearing. But it does no good to continue castigating him for taking money from the coal barons to make it. LBJ took money from the oil folks, got Richard Russell to sign Civil Rights, knew how to pressure and get the right things done. But to be a real senator and leader, he needs the Democrats to pull WV from the ditch of unemployment, opiod addiction, dependence on coal to another present and then future. The past is gone and like the Rust Belt, WV, Kentucky, other states are left behind.
jervissr (washington)
@Katalina He is the coal baron Kat,he owns a coal company.He earns half million a yr from it and his son in law runs it.He needs to go.
Bob Deming (North Texas)
@Katalina If Manchin succeeds in killing Biden's bill, the coal barons should ask the WV legislature to rename King Coal Highway to King Manchin Highway.
As a West Virginian, I don't see any hope, or any way out of the bad situation in our state. It's beyond hopeless. I can't leave and don't want to, but I can see why everyone does.
W.B. (WA)
@NC What about this: swap statehood with Puerto Rico. That way, West Virginian refugees working abroad can replace the old commodity economy with remittances sent home from working in other states. And perhaps being in control of their own currency, they can create a favorable tax haven and attract international capital as well as industries looking for low labor rates, a domestic replacement for failing overseas manufacturing. WV could become the Switzerland of the United States.
Lance Brofman (New York)
Regarding the $300 per month per child payments to most parents, I wonder if the Democrats learned from the Georgia Senate runoff elections. In November 2020 the two incumbent Republican senators had won the election, with only the formality of the runoffs ensure Republican control of the senate. Many voters have neither the time nor the inclination to follow arcane economic and tax issues. They generally have even less interest in the rules of legislative procedure. Thus, when there is legislation pending where all of the candidates are vociferously in favor of the bill, but only if one party's candidates win, will the pending legislation actually be enacted, it can be confusing for many voters. Trump then demanded that the pending $600 payments to most individuals be increased to $2,000. The House of Representatives eagerly embraced this increase. However, Senate Majority leader McConnell refused to allow the House-passed bill with increase to $2,000 to be voted on in the Senate. This created a situation where the incumbent Republican Georgia Senators and their challengers all expressed support for the higher payments. However, only if the Democrats won both Senate races would control of Senate change. Apparently, the prospects of imminent significant cash payments directly to them, will make those normally apathetic regarding arcane political issues, very knowledgeable and interested such matters..."
William (WV)
West Virginia is not a foreign country and it is like many places in the USA. The main difference is the places like WV in most other states are either counter-balanced or outnumbered by urban and suburban voters. Democrats generally and the progressive wing in particular need to understand this. The Trump cult feedback loop is more impervious to influence from external reality than the progressive movement feedback loop, but they share much more similarity than either would admit.
RA (Ellicott City, MD)
A small irrelevant state which basically ranks in the bottom in all useful measures like education, poverty etc.., is basically holding hostage a bill which will benefit all. This is possibly what any person outside the USA will think! and they would be right.
Ben (Cincinnati)
The answer is TERM LIMITS for all legislatures. Then we might get some decent laws passed. Public service in leadership roles were never meant to be careers, which even sticks with the hard rights originalism malarky.
deepharbor (nh)
Joe gets over $500,000 a year from the coal company he is part owner of. It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it. SINCLAIR, Upton, born 1878, American novelist and social reformer.
Greg Ceo (Savannah, GA)
Growing up in West Virginia, the talk around the kitchen table was inevitably about the single woman down the street with several children by different fathers receiving a lot of welfare income and not working. Mr. Krugman, if you want to know why Joe Manchin thinks this way, it is deeply ingrained in the brains of the people of WV, "We work hard and this woman stays home and collects a check. She should work hard too." Yes, you are correct that it makes no sense to punish the children, but I never heard that at the kitchen table. No, when I was growing up, children were supposed to fend for themselves and stay out of everyone else's business. Lastly, I hear West Virginian's say, "No new taxes," a lot. For a state that receives more money from the federal government than they pay into the government's piggy bank, I ask them how they'd like it if some nursing homes closed and hospitals cut back? Surely taxing the rich to keep these services for West Virginia is an idea they would agree with.
Jsailor (California)
I thought the idea behind the child tax credit was to allow mothers to work if they choose to do so. We constantly see stories in the media about mothers whose expenses for child care equal or exceed their income from working. But why should taxpayers pay mothers who choose to stay at home to raise their children, especially when their husbands are earning six figures or more? I don't think it is mean spirited or stingy to think people shouldn't start families until they have the means to support them. And why should the government encourage this? I have no problem with providing assistance for the first two years if it is means tested. Thereafter Mom should find a job.
Pat Cleary (Minnesota)
Democrats just don't have the votes to pass the kind of legislation that President Biden and I would like to see become policy. So they should go forward with what they can get now and work hard to increase their dominance in the next election.
Shadlow Bancroft (Terminus)
Part of me wonders if this sort of hostage taking by Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema is worth having a 50 seat Senate Majority. I'm beginning to think that it'd make more sense to kick Manchin and Sinema out of the party for perfidy than to continue to let them use the exact same tactics the Republicans used on the ACA.
Rich (Portland OR)
And put Mitch McConnell back in charge?
Greg Ceo (Savannah, GA)
@Shadlow Bancroft And let the committees fall into Republican hands? And allow the Republicans to block judges? No thanks.
Shadlow Bancroft (Terminus)
@Greg Ceo I didn't mean right now, but of course this is the leverage that they're holding over the President. When the Senate is no longer 50/50 (in either direction), then we should kick them out.
Jane (California)
He’s not just endangering America’s future, he’s endangering the planet’s future. I would personally pay to retrain coal miners (which we will through taxes anyway) to impress on Manchin how dire the situation is. Send an enlightened oil executive to speak with him — peer to peer. And then send him to Glasgow so he can hear from the rest of the world first hand.
Katalina (Austin, TX)
@Jane You'll have a bit of trouble finding an "enlightened oil executive" I think, but CA is more advanced than Texas in many ways, said truthfully, not sarcastically. Manchin should go to Glasgow...and the others who do not see what is in front of all our faces--the absolute need for immediate recognition of the planet's dire situation.
SAB (Connecticut)
Whatever the current economics of the coal industry in West Virginia, the coal companies and their associates have a stranglehold on the state's politics. They will not give that up willingly.
Dink Singer (Hartford, CT)
While West Virginia is far less dependent on coal than it once was, Joe Manchin is still very much dependent on it. He is the principal owner of a coal brokerage company that supplies most of his income. His son runs the company.
CitizenJ (Nice town, USA)
This news that the clean electricity payment program is likely to be cut from the bill under discussion in Congress is terrible news. Now is the time for a massive, national campaign to try to convince Manchin why this is needed. Convince our members of Congress to work HARDER to win Manchin over. Promise wind turbines, battery factories, EV factories, or whatever for West Virginia. Promise training, and re-training for coal mine employees. Give Manchin what he wants, as long as it includes this clean electricity standard. If that doesn't work, identify one "Republican" who can be won over, and find ways to promise their state similar things (Susan Collins? Lisa Murkowski?). Democrats need to show vision, creativity and spine, and find a way to earn Manchin's vote, with the clean electricity standard included. Lean on Schumer, Pelosi...whomever. This is the best window any American has ever had to pass meaningful legislation to fight climate change, and the window may close soon, for years (unless the Ds maintain control of Congress in 2022). We need this clean electricity standard. Designing climate policy around a WV Senator with financial and family ties to the coal industry is a recipe for horrendous policy. Nothing can pass without Manchin's vote, or the vote of one Republican....but work harder to sway these people. Manchin has grandkids, presumably. Presumably he cares about them. Lean on Manchin. Lean on Susan Collins. Lean on Lisa Murkowski.
DL (Albany, NY)
@CitizenJ Agreed. More social programs would be nice, but environmental action is critical. They should not be on an equal footing when it's time to compromise (and I can't believe compromise is not possible). To me, safeguards to make sure social program spending goes to those who truly need it seem reasonable. And down the road, climate change is going to be hardest on the neediest. Mr. Koch can afford to import his food from anywhere, if necessary.
Howard (Ridgefield, CT)
Why not just include a West Virginia (and perhaps Arizona) development package in the bill? Manchin gets what he needs to have an actual victory and the bill gets passed. When we find out what Senator Sinema needs, provide for that as well. We really MUST pass the full climate proposal (and more), so whatever it takes must be done. West Virginia has been losing and will continue to lose due to conversion from fossil fuels. Some form of injection of resources to develop jobs offset that is not a bad idea. NAFTA was successful in growing the US economy (the U of Chicago's Expert Panel agreed on that), but it did have profound negative effects on some industries/regions that were not mitigated in any way. As such, NAFTA got a bad rap. We have a chance to learn from that.
Tom (Mlchigan)
After reading many of these comments, some are good and make sense, some don't. We need to ask one question: What would trump do or better yet, and less harsh, what would LBJ do? A subtle but strong suggestion about investigations concerning wealth accumulated during Manchin's tenure. Investigations concerning his daughter's job abnormalities etc, etc. There are many subtle ways to approach this using the resources available to Biden and others. Is it fair? Is it legal? Does it matter? No, not really. You could ask the same questions about 99% of congress and how bribes are classified as contributions, gifts are classified as personal and so on. LBJ, although in a different era, was the guy who got things done. Biden, not so much. That is trump's attraction, plus racism, to his base. Although he got things done most if not all wreck the social fabric and economy of this country. Just think if he had put all that energy to getting something done for 99% of the country, but no........
Bob Deming (North Texas)
@Tom What would Trump do? Permanently cut taxes on the wealthy, temporarily cut taxes on the middle class, eliminate the EPA, increase oil production incentives, demand that all wind and solar plants be replaced with coal plants, start a third global war, and finally he'd provide funding to get eight more state legislatures to become Republican controlled so that 38 red states could pass an amendment to increase presidential terms from two to eight so that Ivanka could rule the US for 32 years.
Bill (Philadelphia)
But Professor, WV has 2 senators. Why just pick on the Dem? The GOP Caputo should also be held in contempt for the same reason as not putting the interests of her fellow WV citizens above her personal ambitions or her devotion to trumpie politics.
A Miller (WA)
Isn't that assumed about all Republicans?
William (Wareham, Ma)
He is a man ultimately for the wealthy... look at his eyes it is very clear that someone is telling him what to do... We will only have true representation when the very rich cannot have men in their pockets any longer. How we can get there is the question.
Kurt (Richmond, VA)
I say this as someone who has never voted for a republican: What a poor op-ed! When he starts out by saying Republicans won’t vote for anything Dems back, he forgets (or blatantly omits) that something like 19 R senators backed the $1.2T infrastructure bill. American politics is a game where the representatives do what they think will get them re-elected. Manchin’s moves are completely in line with that. Though Mr Krugman wishes every Democrat were as liberal as him, he seems to be blind to the fact that if they were, they would never carry a majority. The problem is not that Manchin is behaving badly, it’s that our government is so badly polarized that there are only one or two Senators who are swayed by voters who align with both sides. Left wing and right wing primary voters are the ones who need to be neutralized if we wish as a country to confront the pressing issues of the 21st century.
Jess (Intermountain West)
Couldn't this be old fashioned negotiation? He has the power so he is using it to get whatever he can out of it and will eventually agree but only after convincing everyone that he is willing to blow up the whole thing? I would say this is on behalf of his constituents but more likely for his funders and himself.
Todd @ Watertown (Watertown, Connecticut)
Couldn't the answer be a simple as marketing? Manchin wants to be considered the new "Maverick". He loves that there are 2 columns in the NYT today. His name is in the headlines on the regular. It is true that he and Sinema hold the cards right now; and that's just the way they prefer it. Maybe a case of any advertising, even if the message is bad, is good advertising. It worked/s for Trump.
Kjensen (Burley Idaho)
I expected good things to come our way with Biden and the Democrats in charge. After the Trump madness, it looked like better days were heading our way. Its so sad that it all can be sabotaged so easily by one crazy enigma of a senator(Sinema) and a Republican parading as a Democrat (Manchin).
Broggy (Milwaukee)
We'd better see at least two Republican incumbents be defeated in 2022. We need Sinema and Manchin to fade into irrelevance.
Chris (DC)
Joe Manchin is presently 74 years old and likely won't be around long enough to see the future ill effects of his folly. In other words, he really doesn't care. Does he care about his legacy? At this point, one could wager it will largely consist of one question: was he evil?
ntnr2020 (Pa)
Yes! If he can sleep like a baby everynight on his yacht while betraying his constituents'best interests, I would say that qualifies as sociopathic and evil. He certainly shows a lack of empathy for the poor.
EagleFee LLC (Brunswick, Maine)
Professor Krugman: The world is burning up: no one gets a pass. As repugnant as Manchin and Sinema are we can't forget to assign much deserved blame to every self-serving Republican senator who follows McConnell's dictates. Party politics is not an excuse. Following a caucus while the world teeters is disgraceful.
Don (Philadelphia, PA)
Helpful column; but I regret that you did not emphasize the fact that Manchin expects poor parents to work in order to get the “free stuff” yet fails to insist that workers are paid a living wage that actually enables the parents to earn enough to provide their children with basic needs and eliminate the need for “free stuff.” That fact is the essence of the Big Manchin Lie and completes your point that he cares not a wit about the people of Wet Virginia.
Frosty (Wichita)
What did the people of WVA think they were getting when they elected a Democrat to the Senate? Apparently a Republican in sheep's clothing...
Bruce Northwood (Salem, Oregon)
Joe Manchin is a closet republican in democratic clothes.
Lake Monster (Lake Tahoe)
This is what we get when absolutely no campaign finance reform is allowed to occur. We find ourselves at an inflection point, not only for the nation, but likely the earth. I’m beginning to think China and the rest of the world is correct: our form of government is broken.
Marvin Raps (New York)
Manchin, Manchin, Manchin, Sinema, Sinema, Sinema, that's all we hear about. What's the Democrats supposed to do? They have only 48 Senators on board to to pass the Build Back Better bill that the Country desperately needs and the President wants. Well what about the opposition? Not one single Republican, many of which are from States whose constituents would benefit tremendously from the bill, are ready to vote yes. Only two, just two, reasonable, patriotic Republican Senators who rank the Nation above their Party, whose sole mission is to see Biden fail, are needed. Where are they? Let Manchin and Simena vote with the GOP and how about Romney and Collins voting with the Democrats. Why is the media letting the Republican disloyal opposition off the hook. Why are they not focusing on what the people of Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and throw in Maine and Utah will be missing if the Bill fails.
John Brews (Santa Fe)
More pertinent than “hope” that Manchin will think of his constituents, is that the Dems will fix their faulty selection methods for identifying candidates. Having a Manchin or a Sinema occupy a Dem seat in Congress is not better than having a GOP win.
Rich (Portland OR)
Who do you thinks “selected” Manchin? That’s not how the process works.
entprof (Minneapolis)
Manchin is a org of and represents the local gentry of West Virginia, which means he represents interests heavily invested in maintaining the status quo. He wants West Virginia to remain a predominately rural, religious, poor state where everyone knows their place. He doesn’t want people to have an economic buffer, particularly the poor and working class because they get ‘uppity’ and demanding of the local gentry. They begin to want higher wages and benefits and better working conditions and a functional education system that prepares their children for a modern economy. In other words it disrupts and threatens the comfortable status quo for the local gentry.
James (NH)
"Adults in their prime working years are substantially less likely to be employed in West Virginia than in the nation as a whole. That’s not because West Virginians are lazy; it’s because economic change has stranded substantial parts of the U.S. heartland, leading to a loss of job opportunities. "Growing regional economic disparities are a serious problem, with no easy solutions." This should have been the focus, not an afterthought statement. To move policy forward and win more elections, this must be taken seriously. Their needs also must be considered. Most if not all of what Krugman says is true, but he puts an upper middle class intellectual spin on it and fails to see what Manchin and people in his state see. The climate change piece will cause job losses with radiating impact to their economy, already hard hit by shifts in the economy. And the piece that punishes utilities that aren't green enough will raise their rates as well. Krugman says that the child tax credit will make up for this, but it won't (Manchin should be on board with it, but he sees the campaign adds where he gets hit for costing jobs and then fostering dependency, a message that works well in WV). Meanwhile, progressives have known since January that this will be a roadblock and yet placed nothing within it to mitigate the negative effects to give Manchin the political room to say yes. This is a deep progressive political failure that loudly communicates a lack of care for these people.
dr. c.c. (planet earth)
Furthermore, Manchin is severely hurting the wealthier donor states that prop up W. Virginia's economy with a more than 2:1 ratio of incoming funds from the Federal government to taxes paid.
Tony Hartnett (Ireland)
Manchin's objection to further child benefits might look more like it what it actually is — mean-spiritedness — if he spent a few days helping out at food banks. There he'll meet lots of parents, and grandparents, who live on subsistence-level incomes as they care for kids who live in real poverty, a state alien to the WV senator. And I've no doubt they'll be happy to relate to the yacht-owning multi-millionaire what life is like outside his bubble. Maybe he'll even undergo a Road Ito Damascus moment. Assuming he still understands the meaning of the word 'shame', that is.
Robert (Washington)
Don’t discount Manchin’s personal financial stake in fossil fuels or the campaign contributions he receives. Mark Twain’s observation that America has a true native criminal class and that they are members of Congress remains true today.
DazedAndAmazed (Oregon)
Most of us decide what we believe in our 20's and 30's and then spend the rest of our lives defending our increasingly out-of-touch point of view. At some point we become irrelevant.
dave (pennsylvania)
I have thought Manchin wouldn't be so evil as to hold the planet hostage for $500,000 in annual income, but I went to the link Krugman included, and the money is from a coal brokerage he founded, which his son currently runs, and somehow he is getting that $500k from a $5 million stake, which sounds suspiciously lucrative. The fact that his extended family is in the coal business makes it more likely his motives are less ideological than financial, but in any case they are NOT Democratic or environmental...
ntnr2020 (Pa)
I'll bet he gets visited by 3 ghosts on Christmas Eve!
John Brews (Santa Fe)
“So what is Joe Manchin thinking? Some people say we should just follow the money — the large campaign contributions he gets from the fossil fuel industry, his personal financial stake in the coal industry.” Paul “hopes” it ain’t true. But belief that Manchin is “thinking” at all is illusory. As is anyone thinking well of his motives.
This sums it up, we can debate EVs and their impact on climate, but if we are going to agree that electric vehicles are good for climate change, then I don't see why one vehicle is better than the other. They want to have a subsidy for electric vehicles made in America in unionized plants, but not plants that are not unionized. This is, really, an incredibly partisan and in my opinion, corrupt piece of legislation.
Gl (Prague)
All of this money the Dems have should be used to fill the airwaves with, the truth, as seen by all of us, of Jan. 6, of the lies from Republican Johnson of MO and Rep. Clyde, GA that Jan 6 was perpetrated by "tourists"; of Manchin on, soon will be referred to as, his rowboat, along with Sen. Scott's expounding on entitlements; of the Ninja election re-counters' massive failure in AZ, soon to be replicated in PA and other sates; Cruz, Hawley, Stefanik, Jordan's, and a host of other misguided would be representatives, near, if not actual, treasonous behavior supporting the biggest traitor in our midst. What are they waiting for? Armageddon.
William (WV)
Mr. Krugman obviously is either completely oblivious to the real world political climate in West Virginia or is being deliberately disingenuous. This may come to a shock to Mr. Krugman but a LARGE majority of West Virginians do not share his personal view as to what is in their best interest and they vote accordingly. I agree more with Krugman than the WV majority on a large number of issues, but living here in the real world I realize I am outnumbered. Krugman may know more than Joe Manchin about many things, but it takes a special kind of conceit for him to think he know West Virginia better than does Manchin. People get the leadership they demand. West Virginia demands leaders who reinforce the worst instincts of the majority-- and we have it in spades from top to bottom. (As an aside, the last thing that will move the hearts and minds of West Virginians is a pompous lecture from Paul Krugman.)
Kevin Skiles (Salem, 0regon)
Why not? Common sense has been tried, and failed miserably.
Richard Rideau (Ottawa)
Why does the Democratic party of West Virginia allow Joe Manchin stand as a Democratic candidate? Has the Democratic Party in that state become so corrupt that it sells nominations to the highest corporate bidders? The miners of Matewan may have won the battles of the 1920s, but the Baldwin Agency quislings like Mr. Manchin seem to have won the war.
William (WV)
@Richard Rideau You do understand that we have primaries in which the candidate who receives the most votes get the party nomination? No one is preventing progrerssive Democrats from challenging Mr. Manchin. A woman who is very progressive by any measure, let alone WV standards, did challenge him for the nomination. She lost and he won-- very handily. He won because he has high name recognition, lots of money, a long track record with which everyone is familiar and is genuinely pretty popular. Unknowns with no resources who espouse positions unpopular with the majority tend to lose. Until progressive Democrats accept that no one is required to vote for them just because they claim the moral and intellectual high ground (which is barely a mole hill given the subterranean location of the Republican Party) they will continue to lose in rural and small town America. West Virginia is not a foreign country and it is like many places in the USA. The main difference is the places like WV in most other states are either counter-balanced or outnumbered by urban and suburban voters.
Meg (AZ)
@Richard Rideau Because it is a red state and any other Dem would likely lose - if not for Manchin - McConnell would be in charge right now
Richard Rideau (Ottawa)
@William Understood. But the democratic leadership can have some influence on his committee assignments, no? SO why let him have Energy & Natural Resources, and Armed Services is he refuses to play ball?
Meg (AZ)
I sure hope people from around the world show up at the UN climate conference with signs protesting Manchin and Sinema People globally do pay attention to our politics and all of this impacts them as well - instead of a Trump balloon in diapers...I wonder what they will come up with doe Manchin and Sinema? The UK announced they will give homeowners 7,000 for heat pumps and are not showing up in their own backyard emptyhanded - I guess we are showing up like Charlie Brown at Halloween with bag of rocks?
Bob Deming (North Texas)
@Meg Personally, I'm looking forward to foreign nationals using JASTA to start suing the US for not progressing towards meeting the 2030 and 2050 climate change goals. "Greta Thunberg vs the USA" perhaps? Let's see what 1m lawsuits against the US does to our taxes and national debt. National death by a thousand legal cuts.
Thrill is Gone (Columbus)
West Virginia has a program where it is paying people $10,000 to come live and work there. They are desperate for an more educated work force. Put things in the bill that help them do just that.
Eric Carey (Arlington, VA)
Sorry, Dr. Krugman. but Senator Manchin's vision is just fine when it comes to focusing on his state's 39 point preference for GOP nonsense in 2020.
Purl Onions (DE)
I've heard enough speculation about Joe Manchin's thoughts, motives, aspirations, inspirations and wishes to last me a lifetime. He reminds me of a boss who can't tell you what he/she wants of you, so you are left to guess again and again---until you stumble upon what the boss had in mind. A senator should be capable of articulating his thoughts and his policies, but Manchin seems bound and determined to carry his inscrutable reasoning to the grave. He's either incapable of describing what he wants, or he's playing some arcane strategic game at the expense of his constituents and the nation. So I am left to my own devices to divine why Manchin is doing what he's doing.... And my own devices lead me to some pretty dark conclusions about the senator and his motives. In the very best light, his mores are merely out of date--better suited to the 1950's than the 2020's. In the worst light, he's acting as a puppet for his corporate donors, and he has NO interest in the modern-day needs of his own constituents or the good of the nation.
T Speyer (Hastings on Hudson)
While Manchin may not be acting in ways that match the interests of his state objectively, he has proven to understand the interests of his constituents subjectively - and it is these subjective (though wrong, in this case) interests that voters take to the voting booth. Like it or not, Manchin fully understands what it takes to get elected, over and over, in a red state, and dealing with Manchin, in the end, beats by far the alternative of dealing with a WVA republican senator in a Senate where the dems have lost the majority.
R.E. (Cold Spring, NY)
It's time for the Manchin and Sinema to stop pretending to be Democrats and for Biden to still believe being bipartisan is possible.
Rich (Portland OR)
With those two, even being partisan is not possible.
TDHawkes (Eugene, Oregon)
I am feeling cynical today (forewarning). Dr. Krugman is describing the irrational behavior of Sen. Manchin with a passing reference to that of Sen. Sinema, who behaves as a mole. Manchin is being a conservative white man who has sat in a seat of national power for a long time. His behavior is standard bare-knuckles politicking for riches, power, and pleasure. Sure, the underlying reason for Manchin's behavior is one common to the right: we must return to the old days no matter what. If coal was king in the past, coal must be king now. People are lazy and have to be forced to work. The markets are our savior. Money must be doled out in a chary fashion lest riches, power, and pleasure be spread too widely outside elite circles. Really. Further, there are too many people on Earth. If the poor die off isn't that best? Our remaining resources will be in the hands of elites and their support classes who deserve those resources and will use them wisely. When we consider the human animal, we can look at the thin veneer of philosophies and religions we spout at each other, or we can see the primates beneath who are driven to achieve precedence over their own kind at all costs, whose jealousies, lusts, and fears are the old dragons Sylvia Plath spoke of, upon whose cruel, restless backs civilization rests.
Richard (New York)
Once again Krugman complains about the protections offered small states by the U.S. Constitution. Manchin should switch parties and continue to protect his state from the power of the imperial cities.
Cornelius (Munich)
@Richard Looks like you didn't read the column. The only thing Manchin "protects" WV citizens from is financial help and a slighly better ecologic future. I'm quite sure that no one ever explained that to his constituents. Then again, they might be all to happy with inane blather about "imperial cities," "Marxism," and other such phantasms.
William (WV)
@Cornelius Hmmm, after reading this and many similar comments, it is hard to understand why the progressive movement is so unpopular in West Virginia. People generally flock to support those who belittle their knowledge, intelligence and morality. Maybe progressives just need to be more aggressive in their campaign to point out the flaws of the people they fail to persuade.
bigbill (Oriental, NC)
Mired as we are in this madness, one might ask, why do we have a Senate with a 50/50 split between Democrats and Republicans? Why hasn't the Democratic Party been able to get more Democrats elected to the US Senate to avoid this current insanity? Could it be that the DNC and the DSCC have been carefully choosing only Democratic Party US Senate candidates to run in primaries who have the approval of the corporate and wealthy Democratic donors, as opposed to candidates who will work for the interests of the citizens like Senator Berne Sanders? And they do not get elected!
Mark Kropf (Long Island)
West Virginia citizens get a rather contradictory potential for information in regards to their environmental quality. State reference sites point to some rather good values of air quality and general environment. The statistics of the State may perhaps be correct in some respects. Edwards as well as Gilliam and associates have found marked Ozone elevations in rural areas such as Greenbrier and in forests of WV. The EPA has found that WV is one of 8 states not able to conform to 2008 ozone NAAQS values as well. US News rankings place WV in 37th place for Water and air quality and in pollution. It is unclear that the small population of WV has a clear feeling for the nature of its own risks or of the possible role that its Senator has in keeping such information from them. As invested as Senator Manchin and his family is in the Coal Industry, he is hardly the best credible source for information or the most objective arbiter of the needs of his home state in terms of ecological action or the urgency behind its application.
Concerned (Washington DC)
Unfortunately the sad truth is West Virginians do not vote based on what would benefit them the most. They vote based on partisan politics and against their own good. It is simply sad.
Philip (San Francisco, CA)
Manchin is the perfect example for term limits. Every time we re-elect a Senator, Representative or President we get what we deserve. Grassley 88 running for re-election....really? Being a Senator, Representative or President is not and should not be a life time job or a career. Why do "we" re-elect the same people every 2 or 4 or 6 years and wonder why nothing gets done. Once and then out!
sarss (Northeast Texas)
President Manchin is on an ego trip. You cannot interfere. This is opportunity of a life to "matter" and make money now and forever. Isn't it obvious he does not personally care about the people of West Virginia or the other people in the US. The damage he does will live long after we have forgotten his name.
Phil Dunkle (Orlando)
As much as I dislike Senators from states with small populations running interference on the agenda of the majority of Americans, just imagine who would replace Manchin if he weren't so conservative. Probably a Trump cult Republican, who would not support anything proposed by the Biden administration. Manchin is the lesser of two evils.
Evan (Atherton, CA)
Joe Manchin represents the smallest state in the country: that of his bank account.
cljuniper (denver)
I have worked in public sectors as employee or contractor for over two decades. At one city agency, our astute counsel simply said "If it appears you have a conflict of interest, you do." Well said. Manchin is an example of a very needed change in public ethics: nobody who holds an elective office, perhaps above a certain level like a city council where people are volunteers, should retain private business ownership while they hold office. Period. Trump's administration was "corrupt" from the beginning because he and his family did not sufficiently separate themselves from their private business. It seems to me that the GOP might have looser standards around this than Dems - the 2000 presidential election highlighted that Florida's Secy of State was also W.'s campaign manager egregious conflict of interest that sensible Secys of State avoided. And that Trump remains so popular in the GOP shows that GOP voters and leadership and way way too tolerant of conflicts of interest. I think they are in a terrible loop where their cynicism about government makes them tolerant of conflicts of interest (everybody's corrupt, right?) which further generates poisonous cynicism. For our children's future we need climate and sustainability action more than child tax credits. Dems need to keep climate actions, as Sen. Merkley says, and the GOP needs to end its pathetically unpatriotic scorched earth policies, voting as lemmings, not patriots.
Meg (AZ)
Well, on a more positive note, I saw several very long double stacked trains heading East from the port of Long Beach within about an hour of each other on a Sunday morning and the UK is giving homeowners 7,000 to buy heat pumps... As they say in horse racing, give him his head and see what he can do Maybe Biden, though long in the tooth, may be Secretariat underneath - I rather think this is the case Manchin should quit second guessing the judgement of the other 268 Dems who have agreed to vote for this in the House and Senate - let them run with it The Dems in congress certainly do not need policing from the likes of Manchin. The same can not be said about the GOP who seem to support domestic terrorism and an end to democracy
Javier (Boston)
When an Exxon lobbyist admits on camera that he’s in Manchin’s office weekly, no, that’s not cynicism, that’s grappling with reality.
Terry (Martha’s Vineyard)
I live in a beautiful, well-to-do place where some of the same well-meaning motivations this article attributes to Joe Manchin apply. I call the folks who vote against solid, easy to understand environmental changes, like installing electric chargers in public parking spaces, nostalgia voters. They imagine they know what their town wants—rejection of change. By thinking better of them, rather than thinking them dumb or backward, we who support change have found it easier to persuade them. Joe Manchin is a much better man than many are portraying him. He needs to be open to the idea that he is in his seventies and that his state is more open to change than he is.
Josh (Tokyo)
Voters in West Virginia, especially these with with blurred intellectual circuits think they live on coal and vote accordingly. Politicians follow votes as well as money don’t they? Some follow their sense of responsibility of leading cities, counties, states, etc. But this type is hard to find, naturally.
Paul (Ohio)
Whether it's money and connections or just that people like him and trust that he must be doing the right thing, the guy keeps getting elected. Why? And I have the same question for all of the politicians who appear to be acting against the interests of the majority of their constituents: Why? Why do they keep winning elections?
Zach (Washington, DC)
I'll at least say this for Manchin - unlike Sinema, whose galaxy brain tactics of saying nothing and running the fundraiser circuit completely escape me, we know what he actually wants. It's just that what he wants will make these programs cost more to deliver less benefit - after all, you can't means-test something without having the bureaucracy to do it, and some people who DO need the help will end up not getting it because of an arbitrary limit that doesn't adequately reflect factors like cost of living in some places - and hurt Americans everywhere. Including his own constituents.
Albert Petersen (Boulder, Co)
Manchin seems a pretty good representative of his state in that he is living in the past with a blindered vision of the future. While I generalize about the population of W. Va. they do seem to fly an outsized number of Confederate flags there which means many pine for a past long gone.
EABlair (Mid-Coast)
There are a couple of things about West Virginia. First, it's an internal colony of the United States. Like many colonies, it's dependent on natural resources and their extraction. It was developed to mine coal and, as that has declined, it's now invested in fracking. So, despoliation of the environment and fossil fuels are very important. Absent capital investment in other sectors that develops meaningful alternatives, that will remain salient. Second, West Virginia was originally settled by Scots and Scotch-Irish. They moved to the rugged landscape of West Virginia to be left alone. They're bellicose and independently-minded and they do not care for 'elites'. So, there's a deep strain there that says, let people work and earn what they get. That fosters 'independence'. 'Hand outs' foster dependence. Rather short-sighted but that's the way it is.
Girish Kotwal (Louisville, KY)
Senator Joe Manchin elected by West Virginia is the most consequential democratic senator in US history far surpassing senator Byrd who was one of the longest serving senators of the Democratic party. Agree or disagree with Sen. Manchin, he is standing up to the dictatorship of the Bernie brigade, the puppeteers of Biden.
Socrates (Downtown Verona, NJ)
Yes, affordable universal healthcare - something the vast majority of Americans support - would be a dictatorship, Girish opposed to the greatest healthcare rip-off in the world we have now, which dictates that tens of millions of Americans skip healthcare due to the real fear of sticker shock. Counseling is available.
Girish Kotwal (Louisville, KY)
@Socrates Downtown Verona, NJ Whether or not a person should have freedom to choose whether or not to have Obamacare insurance or no insurance is individual choice. Right now Obamacare is mostly funded by Medic aid and if a person qualifies for Medic aid why do they need to pay premiums for Obamacare and have to pay a hefty deductible?
Mark Ubaldi (New York)
The dictatorship of the Bernie brigade.Do you mean the socialist menace! Wake up you already live in such a state. The programs many American’s love and depend on, Social Security, Medicare, Unemployment benefits etc are socialistic. Oh yes, cheaper drug prices; child care; perhaps a single payer health system, all terrible things. Things that many in western industrialized democratic societies already enjoy. Trickle down economics seems to be really working in America. The greatest economic fallacy. Oh yes my friend, if I am not mistaken your state and that of Mr. Joe receive vast amounts of aid from Washington in the form of social subsidies. Perhaps something new is needed to help people emerge from poverty. Democratic socialism just maybe the answer.
Mark Merrill (Portland)
Why is this complicated! Doesn't everyone know that Manchin is owned by the fossil fuel industry? Doesn't everyone know that his constituents live in an ignorant fantasy world where coal remains king? Why is the press not trumpeting this from the highest mountaintop? In a reasonable world the press would know that they exist at the behest of a constitution presently under existential threat, which means they, by extension, do too. Let's just start telling the truth before it's too late!
Talal (Mississauga, Ontario)
So why was this Senator given the Democratic Party Ticket to run for office as a Democrat? Who decided on this? The same Biden-Clinton "Moderate" wing of the party which opposes anything from sensible people in the party as too leftist. The same idiocy which allowed Biden to win the nomination rather than a far more competent Elizabeth Warren or Sanders. It is not just Joe Manchin. Biden himself represents this age old thinking. It is time for him to resign and let Harris take over. We should not go into 2022 election with Biden at the helm.
Jiggs Casey (Texas)
Manchin and Sinema are on the take. It’s as simple as that.
J-Dog (Boston)
Someone should show Manchin this column! Some doubt about his own thinking might then enter his mind. Maybe some change therein would result.
Karl W Albitz (Pittsburgh, Pa)
Does anyone else suspect that Manchin is really an undercover Republican?
desertcynic (Phoenix)
Manchin is hurting his state. Do we have any grounds whatsoever to think that he cares as long as his coal companies and his daughter's drug company keep dumping money into his family's pockets?
Stephen Merritt (Gainesville, Florida)
Well, Dr. Krugman is right in appealing to Sen. Manchin's desire to do the right thing, because accusing him of making decisions based on his own investments and campaign contributions is sure to make him hunker down. However...follow the money remains a wise adage. And, actually, reminding Sen. Manchin that his view of West Virginia's interests is out of date is likely to make him hunker down, too. He actually doesn't take criticism well at all (look at his reaction to Sen. Sanders' ad in a West Virginia paper). I suspect that the only way to get Sen. Manchin's support is to convince him that good ideas are in some sense his own ideas.
Reuben (US)
By 2050, when the world’s climate is immeasurably worse than it is now, most of the people who have most of the wealth in this country will be dead. So why is it that long range mitigation of the impacts is not viable in this country? Coincidence?
MSJ (Germantown, MD)
I guess the big question for me is why West Virginia voters keep electing people like Manchin who act against their best interests. Apparently, Manchin only considers big money fossil fuel companies and his 1% buddies to be his real constituents.
Bill (New York)
Manchin and Sinema are just the most vocal of the Democratic Senators who oppose much of Biden's proposed tax and spend bill, there are others who are more quietly opposed.
SteveH (Zionsville PA)
Well, to be perfectly honest, he does have a yacht to dock and a tailor to hem those thousand-dollar suits. You know, to show his constituents the power of work.
Aspen (Dutchess County, NY)
I would suggest sending this article to his office for him to read but it’s not clear that he reads anything. I wonder WHO has his ear? Who are the people who reinforce his antiquated ideas on public policy and the economy? His family, coal industry officials… God?
Yossarian (Pittsburgh)
I knew Joe Manchin in his younger political days, when he was a town councilman in Fairmont, W.Va. and then state senator. He was everything you wanted in a politician, affable, tall and athletic and when he spoke to you he made you feel as as though your opinions was his opinions and you were the only person that mattered to him. Then after a time I realized that good old Joe's demeanor was really all self promotion and self interest and that what he really was is a great car salesman and that maybe you got ripped off. That Joe Manchin has not changed.
fgros (NY)
Bernie's op-ed in the Charleston WV Gazette-Mail is exactly the tactic Democrats need to adopt in opposition to Republican Party unified opposition to any program initiative that would benefit average Americans.   No Republican candidate, nor a DINO like Manchin, who opposes programs that would improve the lives of ordinary Americans should go unchallenged, regardless of the odds that the challenge will succeed.   Explaining the consequences of Republican intransigence, aggressively and consistently, will ultimately diminish the scope and effect of Republican dog-whistle campaign rhetoric.  Democrats must 'go into the lion's den', as Bernie did and has done before.  Passivity and concession is a losing tactic in opposition to a party that does not respect the rule of law and cares not about truth.
Michael Gallagher (Cortland, NY)
The only reason Manchin and Sinema don't join the GOP and get it over with is they wouldn't be special there. But in the Democratic party they can keep their names in the papers as they derail everything.
Mike (Rural New York)
“…WV… It’s landlocked, so rising sea levels aren’t a direct threat…” This fact didn’t stop Manchin from owning a yacht.
Roy Jones (Tampa Bay)
Maybe Manchin just wants to be the center of attention & how better to make deals than to be the lone hold out.
CharlieY (Illinois)
Bret Stephens, are you reading this?
Trader Dick (Martinez, CA)
‘I’d like to hope that Manchin is sincere”. Seriously? He pulls $500k a year in dividends out of a coal business he owns and his son runs. His corruption is blatant and transparent. The people of West Virginia overwhelmingly support the reconciliation bill - he’s not representing them. To suggest this main has a guiding principle other than enriching himself and his offspring is incredibly naive and frankly, a disservice to your readers.
E. Henry Schoenberger (Shaker Hts. Ohio)
In way too many politicians, motivation for rotten behavior and deplorable judgment flows from an avalanche of ulterior interest. Staying in power is not that ulterior, and the money flowng from lobbyists to influence rotten behavior like Manchin's is only transparent on the surface. Underneath the surface is a ton of grifting. But American voters in states wrapped up in ignorance and a hunger to return to economies based on "the good old days" clearly do not get the concept of conflicts - or rethinking the present in its own terms. So the middle class workers of yore, emblematic of coal workers, have no understanding of the macro wage level, or how tax laws combined with the IRS's lack of enforcing The Doctrine of Step Transactions has aided and abetted the shipment of US profits off shore to create jobs in foreign tax havens - and vote for the doppler effect, because they don't understand there is a plane going at the speed of sound.
Joanne (Harrison NJ)
...with respect, you'd like to believe Manchin has better motivations than it appears, but this is career politics; follow the money. It's always about the money. Period.
skeptonomist (Tennessee)
If Manchin's personal popularity had not won him the Senate seat there would be a Republican in his place and Democrats would have no chance whatsoever of enacting anything. If he had not made fairly conservative promises to the voters of WVA he could not have been elected. He is in effect carrying out the wishes of the voters of WVA. That those wishes are not to the material benefit of most of those voters is a commonplace in red states. If Manchin does not run again with similar promises his seat will be lost to Democrats (it may be lost regardless). A great deal of the criticism of him is in disregard of the political realities.
Righty (New Jersey)
Since the voters of WV have a well established history of voting against their own interests this makes perfect sense! Meanwhile maybe Democrats could take a course in marketing or PR? Selling their policy proposals to working and middle class whites is a major weakness, even without the predictable attacks from the right on socialism, big government…
Paul Wortman (Providence)
Manchin is certainly taking the spice out of the sausage-making process that's called legislating. Whether or not he's out-of-date and out-of-touch with the needs of West Virginia, the Biden Build Back Better bill is his to kill or his to salvage. Let's hope that he's sincere (unlike Sinema) in his ongoing discussions and negotiations with Biden and others like Pramila Jayapal and that some really major programs will emerge in a major piece of legislation.
ernie1241 (california)
Senator Manchin: 1. We elected Joe Biden as President by the greatest vote in American history. 2. YOU, by contrast, were not even elected with a majority vote of West Virginians in your last election. You received only 49.57% of the vote in 2018. 3. In addition, polling in West Virginia shows that many of your positions are NOT supported. For example, you opposed increasing the minimum wage to $15 hour. 63% of West Virginians SUPPORT increasing the minimum wage. 4. YOU do NOT support Biden's Build Back Better agenda. By contrast: Two thirds or more of West Virginia poll respondents had favorable responses to provisions of the proposal, including ensuring that major public investments include requirements that products and materials used are made in America (80%), rebuilding America’s water infrastructure (77%), stronger protections for organized labor (68%) and prioritizing investments to energy workers affected by the nation’s transition to clean energy (66%). AND West Virginians also support the changes to tax policy which Biden has proposed to pay for his agenda. See: "In deep red West Virginia, Biden’s $3.5tn spending proposal is immensely popular" 5. THEREFORE, the REAL question is: WHY do you claim to be a Democrat when you oppose almost everything Democrats voted for in historic numbers in 2020?
Christy (WA)
Of all the red states living on the federal dole, West Virginia is most dependent on blue state tax dollars. So one would think Manchin would support anything that helps those of his constituents left unemployed by a dying coal industry, addicted to the opiates of Purdue Pharma and struggling to raise a family and school their children in the hollers where there is no broadband, no real way to earn a living and no public health service. But, he doesn't want an "entitlement society," while feeling quite entitled to tell our president how to spend our tax dollars.
JD Smith (Pittsburgh)
For as long as I can remember, West Virginia has been synonymous with poverty. I live in southwestern PA, and generations of youth church groups in my part of the world take annual mission trips there to help our impoverished neighbors. The coal economy proved to be a bad bet long ago. What a shameful legacy for Joe Manchin. What a lack of vision for a different future for his constituents.
Gl (Prague)
@JD Smith I think Manchin has found his policies very favorable, for Joe Manchin and his progeny.
Bevan Davies (Kennebunk, ME)
It is surprising to me that the idea of imposing work requirements on the parents of children in order to get support for them hasn't yet been debunked. This is one of those zombie ideas that refuses to die, yet it is still here in 2021. There seems to be no easy explanation for Senator Manchin's position on climate action. Is he really so tone-deaf as to be unaware of the crises we are facing?
mtrav (AP)
@Bevan Davies It only cares about itself
Stephen N (Toronto, Canada)
Find a real Democrat to run against Manchin. OK, someone will say that West Virginia is a red state and only a Democrat like Manchin can win there. But pay attention --Manchin's opposition to Biden's agenda is harming the people of West Virginia! The Democrats need to bring this home to Manchin's constituents. They need to cut through the fog generated by the Republican propaganda machine and make it plain as day that Biden's Build Back Better bill actually delivers what the GOP only promises --it will improve people's lives.
Miss Anne Thrope (Utah)
Articles indicate that the cost of the expanded Child Tax Credit will be $160B/yr or about 3.7% of our $4.3T federal budget. We could easily afford this, and other pro-citizen programs, if each new (R) administration didn't make cutting taxes for The Rich and for Corporations their top priority.
Cornelius (Munich)
I wonder if Manchin isn't in over his head, from a purely practical point. I mean, he has essentially assumed veto power over every piece of sprawling legislation the Biden administration and congressional Democrats have devised. Ist he really reading all those thousands of pages of text produced by hundreds of people, many of the experts in their fields? Is he really working through all those policy areas, from climate change to workers' rights to family entitlements to infrastructure to immigration to macroeconomics etc.? How is it that he has something to say on everything? How many staff does he have? It doesn't add up. I think he's spitballing a lot of it. He has to be.
Morris (Memphis)
Once upon a time bribery was against the law, but like the Oath of Office and COVID lies, no one cares about the rules. Manchin is proving that congress is nothing more than a used car auction, the highest bidder gets Manchin’s vote. Why not accept that reality, that public officials can be bought and sold like used cars? Instead of trying to reason with Manchin, perhaps we should donate more than Big Oil to Manchin's campaign chest and save the human habitat for 7 billion people. Let's dispense with the idea of "public service". That was a quaint notion, but Manchin and Sinema have proven it was pure fantasy.
deb (inWA)
@Morris No. 'Manchin is proving that congress is nothing more than a used car auction, the highest bidder gets Manchin’s vote.' Interesting that Manchin and Sinema prove how horrible Congress is, but not the 48 other Democrats who are negotiating in good faith. This is a prime example of 'throwing out the baby with the bath water'. No, Morris. America doesn't AT ALL need to jettison our values and expectations just because Joe Manchin is an obstructionist. Why is it necessary to whine that American values are simply a quaint notion? Did Joseph McCarthy kill the Congress? The Nixon crimes? Did trump make you realize American presidential history is too foolish to continue? Sheesh, there's yet another saying in America, although misattributed: The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.
Gl (Prague)
@Morris What's the alternative? The deluge?
Janis (Democrat, Wisconsin)
Maybe if Manchin would look into bringing more viable industries to his state, his state would prosper. Senator Manchin needs to look at his own State of West Virginia who is one of the highest states reliant on the Federal government. His state is #5 on receiving the most money per $1 in paid taxes. They receive $2.90 for every dollar paid. Arizona is at #7 receiving $2.05 for every dollar paid. Delaware, President Biden's state, is #51, using only $0.48 for every $1. Delaware has brought many Corporate headquarters to it's state. Thus has allowed for less usage of Federal dollars. I suggest we move West Virginia (and Arizona) down to #50 and #51. Overall Red states have a 26.9 dependency score to Blue states with a 17.4 dependency score. That is a 9.5 dependency score difference. So I guess we should just flip this scenario?
A (Richmond)
Manchin is about as corrupt as they come in the political world and we all know how low that bar is. He cares nothing about his state, his people, only doing what he can to pad his and his family's pocketbooks. Let's call it what it is. Term Limits. That is our only solution at this point.
Gl (Prague)
@A Get rid of Citizens United, and what should be illegal campaign contributions. But since we no longer have a "supreme" court, but one as corrupt as the rest of our reps, well, what's the chance of that?
Mike Holloway (Washington)
Given: There's an audience of one that's the main target of this article, along with anyone that can influence him (presumably his voters). Given: Paul Krugman does not watch Fox News. "So what is Joe Manchin thinking?" I guess I have to tell you what he's thinking? He's thinking that the grand majority of his state has their TV on Fox News and their imitators, often 24/7, and that the universe portrayed on Fox News, with a shrill rising volume of lying incitement to hate and fear, is very different from the one the rest of us inhabit. He's thinking that ratings and polls show that the audience for Fox News and the rest of the lying alternative reality far right bubble, is easily half the country. He's thinking of how persuasive the lies are and that Paul Krugman is not going to convince his voters otherwise. It is the power of lying hate and fear propaganda that will block the Democrats legislation and deliver the country back into the hands of the Trump mob. And why is this happening? Because we allow it. Because we believe that inciting irrational hate and fear is a protected sacred right. But mostly because the business model of NYT, WP, etc, requires that Fox News be treated as occasionally naughty colleagues exercising their first amendment rights. No. Free speech has severe limits. The duty of an actually free press is to inform the public of it.
Clearwater (Oregon)
So many comments here are too simple and too completely miss the mark. It's a far bigger and far simpler than most comments suggest. Yes Manchin is tied to the coal industry. He is. And he could sell off those interests. Why doesn't he? He knows Climate Change is real and really deadly. Or does he know that the only way to be a Democrat in West Virginia is to rarely act like one? Yes. But that probably isn't the entire story. Does Joe think his own party spends a lot of money we may not have? Yes, probably. But I bet he also knows the GOP spends far more than the Dems via the military and the lack of gathering needed tax monies from opaque money hiding wealthy. The simplest thing I can offer is this not to Sen. Manchin: "Dear Senator Manchin, Can you just write on a piece of paper what your bottomline is? Your real bottomline. Hand it to Democratic leadership and turn and walk away so they can either figure out how to work with that, or offer you the one or two things to change your mind or perhaps even excommunicate you? For, Honorable Senator, this is getting untenable even by Washington standards. It reminds me of a scene in Apocalypse Now where Capt. Willard, drinking himself simple again says, "sitting in this hotel room while Charlie squats in the bush getting stronger", the GOP is in their lairs getting stronger and waiting for the resurrection of their Messiah, Trump, to further destroy as the nation's next president. Have a thoughtful day."
docmarroc (trumbull, ct)
Manchin is an obstructionist... no better than McConnell. West Virginia is a state of extreme poverty, poor health care access, lots of opioid addiction, tooth decay, and still loaded with HIV. And this guy is floating around in his yacht? Who is he fooling? He likes his cushy life, subsided by fossil fuel industry and let's not forget about the half million salary from his "family company" . I say, get rid of him, any way you can my friends in WV. He's no Democrat, has little regard for social progress, families in need, economic stimulus programs that lead to the demise of the coal industry and fracking. He's a pompous man, and we've had enough of them in DC. Manchin should get in a van and follow the health care workers in the rural areas of WV and witness the unbearable lifestyle of his "constituents", but in reality, he coats himself every day with more and more teflon .
My (Phoenix)
Despicable or honorable , people have choice to choose the former or later, unfortunately his choice is the former ,due to lack of foresight and lack of concern for the poor kids.
toom (somewhere)
So what about the Republicans who do NOT follow Trump? I am thinking of Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski. Why doesn't Biden try to win them over? If he can, the world can forget Manchin and Sinema (until the next election, of course).
Fred (Bronx, NY)
I love Paul Krugman, and whenever I read the Times, I check to see if he's written anything new. I try not to miss a Krugman column. But I've noticed an odd rhetorical move that Krugman often makes at the close of column. Having just demonstrated, convincingly, that Manchin's policy positions are bad for his constituents, Krugman nevertheless suggests that, perhaps, somehow, Manchin must believe that his positions are in fact helpful to his constituents. And yet Krugman also points out that Manchin owns a large stake in his son's coal brokerage company (founded by Manchin) and that Manchin receives lots of money from fossil-fuel donors. Occam's razor suggests that Manchin simply does not care about his constituents, and instead only cares about maintaining his own power and wealth. Ditto for Sinema. There's no need to speculate that these folks must be somehow principled, against all evidence, but just somehow deeply misguided. They are not misguided, and they are not principled. They are driven by greed, full stop. Why is that so hard to believe?
Jackie (New York)
In 2019, West Virginia had the highest drug overdose rate in the country, over 52.8 deaths per 100,000. Delaware came in 2nd 48 per 100K, then Ohio at 38 per 100K. Is Manchin taking care of the people of his state or is he lining his pockets with money from big pharma? Follow the money.
Mark (Ca)
This editorial raises the mind-blowing reality that millions upon millions of people behave like chickens voting for Col. Saunders. It is a puzzling phenomenon explored in some depth in "Strangers in Their Own Land" by Arlie Russell Hochschild, a book I think well worth reading. Perhaps the most important question for Democratic politics over the next decade, at least, is how does one deal with the fear, insecurity, lack of options and cynicism that incites people to vote for Republicans and disguised Republicans who could really care less about their futures and their welfare. The most important immediate imperative for the Democrats is to win more Senate sits so that they can set Manchin aside and begin doing things that will make his voters and all the rest in similar positions around the country better-off.
Michael (Chicago)
West Virginians will be just fine if Congress doesn’t provide $12,500 tax credits to wealthy Tesla buyers in California.
Nouman (VA)
@Michael How will West Virginians be fine if Congress eliminates the $12,500 tax credit for Tesla buyers? Will that cure the joblessness, addiction and poverty problems in WV?
David (Grass Valley, Ca)
Important Truism: “Don’t let your principles get in the way of your interests.” For Manchin, the truism seems to apply twice, but in mutual opposition. On one hand, Manchin is a principled capitalist. He believes that work enshrines people with value. Sure, they get a wage. But they get self-worth, which makes the wage, however low, acceptable in all cases. But the opposite is also true and more devastating. Manchin is a representative. He represents his working (and non-working) constituents. His interests are their interests, supposedly. By following his capitalist principles so strictly, he must deny his constituents interests. He says words to the contrary, but his deeds speak more loudly and convincingly. Hey Joe Manchin: when ya going to do the right thing? Hey Joe Manchin: are ya planning on rejecting that nice federal pension coming your way? You better, or else you might lose your principles.
Tim B (CA)
Glad he's not a colleague of mine in battle. The only "back" he seem to have is his own. And is it true that he makes a significant amount of money serving on some fossil fuel boards? If this is the case, where's his integrity these days?
JohnK (Durham)
Manchin is representing his state. He's elected by West Virginians and West Virginians believe in coal even if they shouldn't. Manchin could change parties at any time and Biden would get none of his Build Back Better agenda passed. Democrats need to quit attacking Manchin and Sinema and accept some compromise positions.
begonia (boston ma)
the democrats have compromised and are willing to compromise more but manchin and Sinema will not come to the table. their approach is essentially blackmail…their way or no way. they won’t debate on any policy either
Robert Kramer (Philadelphia)
I wonder if Manchin is simply reflecting the views of West Virginia’s citizens? After all, it is a very conservative state with very Puritanical views of right and wrong, self reliance, hard work, and who may or may not be “worthy”. Maybe you can call it self pride, and they are very proud people, but if that pride gets in the way of seeing things as they really are, it becomes self destructive. West Virginia no longer a coal state? I would guess most of West Virginia’s citizens would not agree. It is ingrained in their heritage and the long term implications are too unbearable to contemplate.
Gabriel (New Haven)
Growing up in Fairmont, WV, most of my generation received a good education... and then fled the state in search of viable jobs. I am one of them. I would go back, be close to my children's grandparents, but there is no economy. Ever since the election put the spotlight on Manchin, I expected him to leverage his swing vote to get developmental concessions for his state, to create some job opportunities. Apparently, not so. Just (self-)serving the entrenched economic masters there, at the expense of critical climate policy. Sigh.
Larry (Oakland, CA)
This raises questions as to how we label a person as being either a democrat or republican. The former subscribes to certain principles and agreed upon party platforms while the latter used to do that as well. (No longer, of course, since the republicans have largely a cult or just plain entrenched against anything that a democrat might work for.) At one point, not so many years ago, certain members within the republican party to offense at things some of their republican colleagues would stand for and so, viola, we have RINO's - repubilcan in name only. Do we now have a DINO - democrat in name only? Actually, maybe this really does apply to Manchin both in that sense and that he really is akin to a dinosaur, having been completely left behind by the evolving democratic party? Granted, there was a time when there used to be liberal republicans and conservative democrats, but those distinctions also appear to have faded into the void over time, since there is a level of ideological purity demanded by both sides.
James Murphy (Providence Forge, Virginia)
The sooner a candidate can be found to run against Manchin the better. He's an absolute disaster for West Virginia, the Democratic Party and the United States of America as a whole.
Bob (NY)
I appreciate all the venting in these comments, I really do. But 90% of them ignore the "elephant" in the room: Manchin is to the left of the vast majority of his own constituents. Way to the left. The sentiment seems to be that Manchin should buck his own constituents by voting for something he does not believe in and his constituents do not want. Although doing so will likely end his own career and Democratic control of the Senate as well. Great idea! Just think for a moment: if Manchin were replaced by a Senator who got elected with 68% of the vote what would that Senator look like? Probably very much like Donald Trump. He got 68% of the vote in West Virginia. The problem is not Manchin. The problem is that by and large, the American people (not just West Virginians) are very ignorant and uninformed. That allowed people like Susan Collins to get re-elected even in states that lean Democratic. The task at hand: get Manchin to compromise on something he will vote for. Then get Sinema to the table. Pass a reconciliation bill. Just get it done. Next task: get Manchin's voting rights bill through the Senate. Then make sure that the Senate campaigns in 2022 do not end up like Senate campaigns did in 2020, with Democrats losing all over the place. That's a tall order made taller in a mid-term election where there'll be voter suppression all over the place. So let's get to work and get it done!
M (Chicago)
If the loud loud progressives hadn’t turned off so many voters in key senate races (IA, ME, WI…) we wouldn’t all have to wait and see what de facto President Manchin wants. Is what it is now though.
Wginla (Mexico City)
There are three obstacles to Build Back Better: the Republican senators, DINO Manchin, and the clown from Arizona. Reform the Senate to apportion senators based on a state’s population. There you have it!
Dave (California)
All this will be very useful when Manchin is primaried in 2024. But, 3 more years of Manchin could almost kill this country. I just hope many of us can live that long.
Belle (Seattle)
I hope Sen. Joe Manchin goes down in the history books as one of the worst senators ever. He has brought shame to West Virginia.
DRTmunich (Long Island)
Manchin was offended the Bernie Sanders published an op-ed in a West Virginia news paper. Well Biden and the rest of the Democrats should do the same to Sinema and Manchin. Sinema is no so unpopular in a recent poll with her voters she would lose in a primary to any of 4 candidates put forth in the poll. Take a clear message to the people of the states. Hold the feet of Manchin and Sinema to the fire. Make clear their people support this overwhelmingly. Oh boohoo Sen. Manchin you don't like being called out for your hypocrisy.
Ak (Bklyn)
he needs to be primaried by someone who actually cares about the people of West Virginia. If Stacey Abrams was able to get two democrat senators elected in Georgia then this should be a walk in the park.
dan w (NJ)
Krugman: "But the most cynical takes on politicians’ behavior aren’t always right. I’d like to hope that Manchin is sincere — that he actually believes that he’s protecting his state’s interests." Krugman best take care, lest he himself sounds like a politician. Manchin is venal. Selfish. Insular. Mealy mouthed. And a betrayer of his people. If that is not apparent to the good professor I do not know what would be apparent. The professor ought not now mince words when it comes to politicians. Too much at stake.
AlNewman (Connecticut)
Only Manchin's constituents aren't ordinary West Virginians, they're the moneyed interests that give him his talking points? West Virginians? Manchin knows all too well they're MAGAs. By pushing back at Biden, he owns the libs in their eyes while taking the rich man's money. Everyone wins.
nilo checchi (buenos aires argentina)
The democratic party should ask his resignation immediately. enough is enough.
J. Daniel Von Peartree (Upper Upper Wear Side)
Manchin = Dixiecrat
Charlie (Austin)
I'm from West Virginia; a 6-generation West Virginian; but in the employment vacuum of 1980, I fled the State. Trust me, Mr. Manchin is all about the money, as was his father, as is his wife, as is his entire family. He is the figurehead of a gasping, almost-dead, industrial paradigm and a deeply-corrupt governance that has sucked resources out of West Virginia for 150-years, and gave nothing back to the State except slave wages, black death, and an empty mythology of "coal" clinging to all those long-abandoned, black holes dug into the sides of the mountains, hills, and hollows. Yet that empty mythology still drives election days, and the empty promise of "coal" still resonates with voters, who have never been in a coal mine, and likely know zero actual coal miners, except for a vague memory of "grandpa" and "old Uncle Joe". That is astonishing. -C
RAS (Richmond)
Corrupt legislators are everywhere ... the US breeds and grooms them to shine in the muck
Larry Imboden (Union)
No single Senator should wield so much power over the nation. If Senator Manchin and the Senator from Arizona were true Democrats they would vote to eliminate the filibuster, allowing President Biden's agenda to move forward and Build Back Better our great nation. Instead, we have a pair of prima donna road blocks in the Senate who are destroying everything. They must be voted out of office. There is no other choice.
Cornelius (Munich)
@Larry Imboden Yeah well, if Manchin is voted out, that's one more super-safe seat for a Trump-style Republican. So that's not the solution, unfortunately. Democrats absolutely need to pick up seats elsewhere, so that Manchin's vote ultimately doesn't matter. I know that's also not very realistic, but at least it's not illogical.
David (Lake Alfred)
@Larry Imboden If Manchin is voted out, he will only be replaced by a Republican.
Joseph (Boston)
@Larry Imboden Given that there are 50 Republican senators, if anything Manchin and Sinema are representing the majority of the nation by blocking the bills. In case you're unaware, we have a 52 person CONSERVATIVE majority by that count. This isn't minoritarian rule by any stretch- we're an evenly split contrary with each group having a temper tantrum whenever they can't impose their will on the other half. Just live and let be- an evenly divided house and senate mean we're a divided people- better to maintain status quo than let half the country dictate life in the affirmative for the other half
Marcelo (New York)
Joe Mancin, or whatever the next excuse for dysfunctionality is called, is merely a reflection of the fact that the US has become a decadent, poor country. This happened through a sequence of unenforced errors which started with electing Reagan and continued with electing Trump: one a B movie actor and the the other a TV show personality. Both populist conservatives. Political decadence begets economic decadence, Mr Krugman. Check, please!
bnc (Lowell,MA)
I wrote this about George W. Bush, but it equally well pertains to Joe Manchin: " Many more than died on 9/11 will die or become ill from the toxic fumes those smokestacks still spill... and my pals the pharmaceuticals will sell many more pills." We cannot find safe ways to dispose of coal ash. Coal contains lethal toxins, including asbestos, arsenic and lead. Indeed, it has been proven and Joe Manchin is a greater terror threat than Osama bin Laden. .
Joyce (New York)
Let us all get real. Politician want to stay in power. Joe Manchin is an anomaly. He is a Democrat in a very Republican state. He was elected because people in West Virginia personally like him. This is a state that heavily voted for Trump in the last election and has one of the lowest Covid vaccination rates iin the country. The only way the Democratic legislation is going to pass is special earmarks are given to West Virginia. Otherwise it is dead on arrival.
Cyclist (Evanston)
Our government wouldn't be in this hostage situation if the opposing party had a serious concern for policy and governing. For them, it's all about feeding the spitefulness of their discontented base and stoking their fears. That's a recipe for self-defeat for the people and the nation alike.
Sam (NYC)
Paul fails to mention another constituency that polling reveals opposes the Biden plan. The majority of the American people after they are told what it’s going to cost and who’s going to have to pay for some of it (them).
John Whitmore (Gig Harbor WA)
Yes, a percentage of your income over $400,000.
Jill C. (Durham, NC)
Can we stop the hand-wringing about what motivates Joe Manchin and state the truth? That truth is that Joe Manchin regards his office as a way to fill his and his family's coffers and make this already wealthy family even wealthier...and he will do the bidding of any company or donor willing to stuff his family coffers with cash. He founded two coal companies that his son now operates. Protecting coal protects his family business. And let's not forget his daughter, who price-gouged Epi-Pens that many people with severe allergies need to protect their very lives when she was CEO of Mylan. The Manchin family is every bit as greedy as the Trump family is, only they use the poor of West Virginia as human shields.
Sara G2 (NYC)
Manchin, to be consistent, will also require a work requirement (or similar) when he green lights tax credits and giveaways to the oil, gas and coal industry, right?
sjs (Bridgeport, CT)
As much as I hate quoting Lenin, he was right when he said the only question to ask is who benefits and from whom. Manchin's ideas may be out of date and his understanding of what his state and the country need may be wrong, but do ask how is he benefiting and from who does those benefits come.
Yeah (Chicago)
Joe Manchin is an excellent example of a pol whose base consists of out of state contributors and a time frame no deeper than the next election. Who bets on coal in the long term?
Mary (Austin)
He's invested in coal, right? Seems that's the real motivation behind his decisions. His Almost Heaven houseboat yaght says it all. He's rich and wants to stay that way. Green energy could bring jobs back to West Virginia. He shouldn't have a problem with any of the build back better plan.
Patrick Donovan (Keaau HI)
Manchin has said in the past that he can't vote for things unless he "can explain them back home." How does he figure to explain cutting off aid to kids unless adults find nonexistent jobs?
Tom Fitzgibbon (Brooklyn)
Once again, the Senate appears to be the problem. In order to keep a democracy that represents all the people in equal measure we need to restrict the overwhelming effect of money on our elections. Especially in poorer states like West Virginia where a small amount of money goes a long way to buy an election.
Evangelos (Brooklyn)
The political structure of today’s Congress makes it super-easy for polluters, Big Pharma, billionaire tax cheats and other amoral plutocrats: Essentially, they only need to “donate” to Mitch McConnell and either Joe Manchin or Kyrsten Sinema. Al Capone never had it so good!
alan brown (manhattan)
@Evangelos You're just finding out that money talks and......
Evangelos (Brooklyn)
@alan brown Just remarking on the efficiency — now 3 or 4 well-placed bribes can do the work of dozens.
Gerry Atrick (Rockville MD)
West Virginia’s economy: Before the pandemic, the coal mining industry employed only around 13,000 workers, less than 2 percent of the state’s work force. Coal is a dying industry in WV, just like it is everywhere else. Natural Gas and Fracking is the bigger industry there. WV has one of the highest child poverty rates of any of the states. It has a high unemployment rate. Not to mention the ravages of Teflon, PFAs, and other chemicals in their drinking water,The Opiod crises, and now they have severe flodding issues. Joe Manchin needs to pay attention to the state of his state.
William King (Fort Worth, Texas)
If Manchin really want to help the citizens of WVa he should negotiate the relocation of some govt agency to WVa. Like Sen. Byrd did to locate the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services Division. This would bring highly educated and income workforce.
Luke (West Virginia)
Unfortunately, that won't cut it here today. Hal Rogers does that all the time in his district in Kentucky, sneaking pork into bills to get prisons built in his district. But all those jobs go to people already working in the prison system, often from out of state, and benefits never materialize for locals. There needs to be a three-pronged approach: first, massive investment in care for the opioid crisis. More rehab, ensuring quick access to naloxone everywhere in the state, and restorative justice to clear criminal records for anyone with drug related issues, whether that's possession or theft in order to get money for opioids (or heroin, or meth, which is the cheaper drug many switch to when heroin or prescription opioids are too expensive). Second, jobs programs. Obvious. But third, and most crucially, this all needs to be done in a way that celebrates and affords dignity to people who worked in, or whose families worked in coal. West Virginians died in droves in the mines and the Coal Wars to ensure an end to child labor, a five-day work week, and get other labor protections, and this was intentionally kept out of history books by the industry, state, and federal government. People are proud of what they and their ancestors achieved in that line of work, and democrats rarely respect or acknowledge that. Instead, they make jokes about inbreeding and wonder why "Appalachians vote against their own interests." All many have left is their dignity and they won't give that up.
Joe Manchin, (Wherefore Art Thou, Brother?)
@Luke Thanks for your letter, Luke. A reader of these comments never knows when he'll discover a hidden gem like yours. I learn so much real knowledge from them. It's like we've created an Academy of Ideas and Experience.
Walkman (LA County)
West Virginia politicians don’t want educated voters, because “educated people won’t vote for us”.
John (SF)
Just bribe him, $14b. Total coal related economic activity in W Virginia is $14b. That’s nothing compared to the sabotage and wealth Manchin is keeping from Americans (childcare alone frees (mostly women) into the labor force generating magnitudes more in wealth). Pay $14b/year to coal workers and buy and shut down the industry.
theonanda (Naples, FL)
Of course the most cynical take on Manchin is that all of it is just to gin up lots of different bases.
ndbza (usa)
He is on course to winning the battle but losing the war.
Jason McDonald (Fremont)
Manchin needs to leave the Democratic party and become a Republican! Because that will really help the Democratic agenda - get rid of all the moderates! Then we'll have control of the Senate. Oh, oops... Democrats actually need moderates to have control, which means they might need to compromise with them. Oh oops Biden won as a moderate. Never mind.
tom mikulka (cape elizabeth, maine)
Joe Manchin acts like a man with no conscience who relishes the spotlight. Reminds me a lot of the former president.
Fread (Melbourne)
It might, in fact, be very simple: his personal financial interests!!
Lee Herring (NC)
@Fread Even Paul in the article spoke against that cheap shot.
displaced New Englander (Chicago)
@Fread Agreed. When people won't tell you what they want, it's often because they want something they can't say aloud. The Biden administration should keep negotiating with Manchin and Sinema until talks completely break down, and then they should open a couple of Swiss bank accounts, drop several mil into each and put Manchin and Sinema's names of them (without actually putting their names on them)--in exchange for their commitment to do the right thing by the American people. It's ugly, but it may be the only way to cut a deal with extortionists who are holding the nation and their own people hostage.
Mike (Los Angeles, CA)
@displaced New Englander I think the GOP has probably done that for Manchin & Sinema already
RickK (Nyc)
Manchin has only one policy, resist the Democrats, because despite all the reasons why he shouldn't do that (see the article I'm commenting on) that is what his constituents want. He is a follower, when what he needs to be is a leader, for his State and for this Country.
Lito (Philadelphia)
Folks, we (OK, almost all Democrats and most sensible people) have been scratching our heads and wringing our hands about Joe Manchin for nearly six months, and I'm sick of it. And him. As odious, mendacious, destructive and shameless as our former 'president' was, I believe Senator Manchin, in his arrogant posing for a "reward" society, for budgetary prudence, for the evanescent goal of 'bi-partisanship,' is just as self-aggrandizing, and actually more dangerous for the nation's future. He may hang out in DC on a yacht named "Almost Heaven," but his perspectives and positions are taking us all--including his beloved West the other direction.
philly (Philadelphia)
@Lito Based on Biden's current polling numbers, one may suggest that most sensible people are scratching their heads and worrying what Mr. Biden is trying to do to the country. Mr. Manchin is doing exactly what the constituents that elected him to the Senate want him to do, this is called representative government, and if most Democrats don't like it they should move to a country that doesn't require politicians to do what their constituents voted for or want. I hear that China and Russia are good options.
R. Law (Texas)
@Lito - It's not just Manchin; apparently there are other Dem Senators who feel as he does on some of the same issues, but are content to stay in the background, letting Manchin take the lead, as he apparently likes the limelight. The donors who have bought off other Dems to keep Manchin company are our real problem.
Lito (Philadelphia)
@philly I'm not sure how to respond politely to this, so let me simply say that nothing in my original post, or anything that President Biden is seeking to accomplish, calls into question "representative government." And, if you read Dr. Krugman's column again (which I would urge to to do), you will see him very carefully assessing the gap--a significant gap--between Senator Manchin's stances and the deep economic and social needs of many of his people in West Virginia. Such representation--they should have it so good, right?
AlanJ (East Virginia)
You can accept that Sen Manchin is sincere in pushing for work requirements and income cut-offs. You could even accept that, in an ideal world, it makes the program more efficient. In the real world, it means creating an administrative structure to enforce these rules and requires recipients to fill out complex paperwork and wait for decisions from the government. The inevitable outcome is that low and moderate income families come to view the government as their adversary rather than their proponent.
PATRICK (Pennsylvania)
I enjoyed your most recent inflation subject writing. It was very open minded. I'm seriously curtailing my consumerism to save money and reduce my inflation footprint. I think others should as well.
Claire McFadden (Belfast, Me)
@PATRICK I agree. I don't buy things I don't need but I'm contributing weekly to community organisations to help those with greater needs. I'm taking out my warm sweaters for winter and I will use power only as needed. Sleeping in a cool room is healthier. Last election, I knocked on hundreds of doors - well wrapped up against the weather - only to have a blast of warm air hit me when the door was opened by someone dressed in shorts and tee shirt! We are in a climate crisis here, folks! Wake up!
PATRICK (Pennsylvania)
The Republican military has been infiltrating the Congress for years to gain treasure and war powers, so why wouldn't you believe they infiltrated the Democrats as well?
Clark Landrum (Near the swamp.)
One would think that Manchin and Simena control the Senate. Maybe it's time we heard from the other 98.
PATRICK (Pennsylvania)
McConnell, Manchin, Sinema, Trump. Coal.
george sterzinger (washington dc)
Long the Obama years...Manchin grew so frustrated with then Senator Kerry's thousand page Bill he went out, propped the Bill in a tree and shot it...bloodlessly. Now Manchin and Kerry are reprising their roles...Still miles apart.
PATRICK (Pennsylvania)
"Manchin" what's in a name? Guess!
Ro John (VT)
Until we get $$$ out of politics, the common good of the people and the future of this planet are doomed. My poor grandchildren.
rmwein (greensboro nc)
Maybe it's time to lock up Manchin in the Bunker at The Greenbrier.
humphrey.gardner (Marblehead)
Joe Mannequin is a Democrat In Name Only. His strings are pulled by petrochemicals, largely other fossilized dinos.
CA (Key West, Florida)
Joe Manchin, like politicians everywhere care about themselves solely and the golden handshake is the icing on the cake. This is the sad saga of the American experiment with something named "democracy". The SCOTUS reaffirmed this truth as well, money talks.
alan brown (manhattan)
I wonder how many citizens of West Virginia Mr. Krugman has spoken to, how many polls he has read taken in WV and I know for certain that Mr. Krugman will not be running for the Senate in WV in 2024. All politics is local. It is worth remembering that.
Tea (New York, NY)
Right on one, wrong on another: 1. Can you imagine a national bill being held up because it's against the interests of Brooklyn? The Senate is bogus, locking political power in the geography of the 1800s. Adding DC / PR should be a bare minimum. Better yet, abolish the Senate. 2. Fossil fuels don't employ a lot of people in the state, but that's not the point. Fossil fuels produce a lot of cash to a very few people. Those rentiers can then afford to run ads saying Manchin's next challenger is the president of antifa / Q Anon / whatever silly hot issue is the rage around the next election.
Sam (NYC)
The bill is not being held up because it’s against the interests of Brooklyn, or Virginia. It’s being held up because half the Senate which represents the interests of more or less half the country is against it.
Louis A. Carliner (Lecanto, FL)
At the very least, all of those leaky gas wells need to be capped because the methane in the gas is five times more destructive to the climate than carbon dioxide, and, moreover, the other toxic components is especially harmful to children health!
Gl (Prague)
If California can have a recall for their governor, why can’t WV and AZ have one for their senators?
Ed Callahan (Whitestown IN)
@Gl The Constitution doesn’t allow it.
RCP (Texas)
Thank God someone in Washington is actually thinking about the good of the country and not just what political angle advances democrats.
Cyclist (Evanston)
@RCP Huh?
Ed Callahan (Whitestown IN)
@RCP Yeah, but the article is about Joe Manchin.
DRTmunich (Long Island)
@RCP -- You must mean Biden. Certainly not the Republicans or Manchin at this point.
Huditha (Starrucca, Pa)
A few more climate change horrors of flooding, homes floating away, no food, no meds will show us why we wanted to re-change our climate change, but money talks and people die so someone (politicians) can make money...Saving coal while making money does little for those in the industry except for the owners and the politician and this is what Manchin has done for years to West Virginia. They might not think he's so hot now, I hope and they can see the truth....
pH7 (North Carolina)
Paul seems to be traveling in circles. He has no solution for the jobs vacuum left in WV from the demise in coal, but he wants to give child allowances to families so that they can go to work. He'll supplement the daycare industry so that they can provide the service. So, it comes across that Paul thinks that WV should create an economy built on moms working in daycare keeping other moms' children so that the other moms can work in daycare. Ah, the power of the circular flow of economic activity. Manchin, of course, knows that WV has a serious unemployment problem and a serious illegal drug problem. He knows that effort-free money will likely go to drug dealers rather than child support. And, those of us who have taught in inner city schools recognize the potential for expanded daycare centers to become major illegal drug distribution centers. Paul should leave WV alone and, instead, tackle the similar problems in Brooklyn and the Bronx. It seems that flooding and government ineptitude may be as big a problem there as in WV. And Riker's Island, sheesh, what a crying need for some warm and tender treatment. And the comment about Sinema? Was that some kind of misogynistic, anti-alternative life style swipe at another human being? Paul needs some introspective time to sort out his prejudices. Maybe a relaxing bike ride to Le Bernardin and something off the lounge menu. That should do it.
George (Chicago)
@pH7 I don't necessarily disagree with some of your points, but I have to take issue with your defense of Sinema. The woman WILL NOT even articulate what exactly she is for or against in Biden's plans. I don't think "standing by an elevator" is the correct response by an elected official who is being asked by the press where she stands on any issue.
pH7 (North Carolina)
@George Fair enough. Sort of like "And I haven't been to Europe." Maddening in one case, witty in the other. We need to see them both for what they are, regardless of their party affiliation.
wryawry (the foothills of the headlands)
Manchin is bought and paid for. There’s a word for that.
Peter Bernard (Detroit)
Joe Manchin has become the "Coal Man."
arik (Tel Aviv)
As usual Krugman's good article does not pick up the essence of the problem. The reason why it cannot capture that essence is ...his over rationality. A total "winner" as P Krugman is, is rationally explaining the "losers" of West Virginia how they should rationally think and what should they prefer. Maybe he is right. But West Virginians probably do not want any social democratic welfare state, but want their status back. And the fact is that they know that it is irreversible. They wont enjoy their status back. So the next point, which Krugman's rationality does not capture, is that maybe they would prefer "the ship to sink" together with Krugman. Climate change is a problem for elites. The losers cannot care less. They will suffer of course, but New York elites will suffer as well. The terrible thing about that, is that maybe for the W V people that pays off. You want to change it..... so maybe start really distributing the cake fairly , and step down from economic and cultural "wokeness" . That is something that New Yorkers would resit to do, I guess.
Ed Callahan (Whitestown IN)
The reason WV Is in an economic spiral is that it is cheaper to surface mine Wyoming coal than digging it out via tunnels back east. And it’s not the “woke” who are deciding how to serve up the cake. Besides in WV, “distributing the cake fairly” usually is considered socialism.
David Henry (Concord)
W.V. made M governor, then senator. Apparently it loves him and is indifferent to reform. Other red states are the same. Misery loves company.
Sharon5101 (Rockaway Park)
What I'd like to know is why the Democratic leadership hasn't censured Joe Manchin for trying to derail the President's goal of helping all Americans, including West Virginia. Chuck Schumer is the Democratic Senate Majority Leader but there hasn't been a peep out of him regarding Joe Manchin's despicable behavior. Say what you will about Mitch McConnell but at least he knows how to keep Republican Senators in line. By comparison Chuck Schumer is no where to be found. Why??
Neildsmith (USA)
I lost all respect for Manchin (not that I had much to start with) when he said this “This isn't the first time an out-of-stater has tried to tell West Virginians what is best for them despite having no relationship to our state.” It's true that Sanders doesn't live in WV. Neither do I. But this suggests that Manchin ought not be telling the rest of us what to do either. Perhaps he should just stay in WV. Perhaps he should work on legislation ensuring that none of my tax money ends up in WV. I know... this is all silly, but if Manchin want's to be a states rights secessionist, he should come out as one. As for cinema lady... who knows?
Southern Man (Atlanta, GA)
A. Nothing that the USA does or does not do will have a significant effect on climate change, but it will have a significant negative effect on our economy. B. Paying people not to work because they have children encourages more people to have children they cannot afford. C. Paying people who live in low job opportunity areas not to work (because they have children) discourages them from moving to places where there is more job opportunity. D. Though not mentioned, having such child payments that are not means tested (as the plan requires) is simply a disguise for govenment dispursed guaranteed income. E. All of the above are simply steps to move America in a more socialist direction, and the Dems need to do it quickly because they know they'll be out of power come 2022.
Reasoned analysis (San Francisco)
I wonder what will happen when the large majority of the American people begin to believe that no matter what they do politics is so rigged against them that it can never deliver what they want no matter how big their majority.
Pedigrees (SW Ohio)
@Reasoned analysis Pretty sure we're already there...
D. DeMarco (Baltimore)
Biden needs to make ads featuring West Virginia and the help his Build Back Better plan would bring to children and working families. Highlight the damage from flooding. Biden should then flood the airwaves nationwide with these commercials. Fox News should be a target spot for running them. Make it clear how much Manchin's state, and the people who vote for him, need the help. Do the same for Sinema's state, Arizona. Highlight the fires currently burning - there are at least 4 active right now. Runs these spots nationwide. Show the help the state will get if Build Back Better is passed. Run these spots every commercial break. Place them in RW radio shows. Buy ad time on Newsmax and ONA. Make it clear the only thing keeping West Virginia, Arizona and the rest of America from being helped, is Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema.
macrol (usa)
I'm from N WV . Knowing energy extraction corporations , its not inconceivable that they and others are holding something over the heads of Manchin or one of his family members. Just a thought.
Guillemot (Maine)
Joe Manchin and Kristen Sinema wouldn't be such a problem for the Democrats and ultimately the country if all the Republican Senators weren't marching lockstep with the arch-obstructionist Mc Connell. Why is the press not focusing as much attention on the self-serving and dishonorable intransigence of the Republicans ?
Mary Ellen Spicuzza (Milwaukee, WI)
All of this turmoil. All of this stingy dealing. We need to abolish the Electoral College so the true majority of U.S. citizens can have a say in the way this country is running. Our gerrymandered system makes it easier for special $ interests to set the agenda. The tail is wagging the dog.
Bill (NYC)
For an economist the good PhD seems too have a math problem. The current score is 48 for, 52 against. Hardly a tyranny of the minority.
Times Up (Massachusetts)
Sen. Manchin isn’t against the child tax credit despite the inequality in W. VA, he’s against it •because• of the inequality. He wants it to continue and he’s threatened by the idea that powerless people will get any bit of leverage to change things.
gARG (Carrborro, NC)
Consider the idea that many corrupted politicians, like Manchin, seek to avoid government having a positive impact on peoples lives. This might lead to a belief that government is good and cascade into policies that negatively impact his donors and personal wealth. No, it is better to put these fires out right away, before they get out of control.
Peter (Syracuse)
Joe Manchin doesn't care about the regular people in West Virginia, never has, never will. He only cares about his donors, his bank account and his ability to appear independent, not necessarily in that order.
rich (hutchinson isl. fl)
This time it is different; Companies today are not as dependent on human labor and pandemics have hastened automation. Robots never get sick and never demand higher wages. As the population of the earth grows to over 9 billion by year 2150 and automation reduces world wide jobs from about 4 billion to 2 billion, climate disruption will decrease historically arable land and fresh water, coast lines where the majority of humankind lives, will disappear and populations will fight and migrate to survive. The U.S. will not be immune to the problems that will arise as a result of Joe Manchin's positions on both labor and climate. The severity of the consequences of overpopulation will depend on how much of the wealth generated by automation technology is shared, and how well human reproduction is reduced. Humans will not remain docile and immobile while their children die and a walled off one thousandth of one percent own the world. Will the people decide that it is time for everyone to share in the profits of automation; Will we become the oft portrayed science fiction society of the future where everyone is served through automation, or dystopian societies that enslave most to authoritarian states? Those who for the time being still live in democratic societies will decide, but they'd best hurry.
Gary Cohen (Great Neck NY)
Term limits now and term limits forever. Rule one raise money for re-election, rule two never take a position that may help people without reading the polls.
John Metz Clark (Boston)
Joe will be working to the highest bidder on K street, when he gets voted out. That's JOES plan !
JavaFizzy (Virginia)
The reason he can get away with punishing the people of West Virginia is the same reason white working class Americans have been voting against their families' and communities' economic interests since Reagan; the culture wars. Reagan and Republicans figured out their magic formula for enriching the rich and powerful at the expense and with the enthusiastic support of working class white people like coal miners in West Virginia. God, Guns, and Race. This is the same reason why the life expectancy of mid to late 50s white men without college degrees are dropping. They work hard, do what they think is the right thing, and still struggle to provide for their families. This creates depression, drug use and suicide; all on the rise in this demographic. They hear from the likes of Tucker Carlson and Donald Trump that it's the Hispanic immigrant, the black single mother and the Libs who want to "take away our guns!", and blame those scapegoats for their lot in life. Meanwhile the people of such great greed probably laugh to themselves with cigars lit, at these willing marks, who keep allowing them to take more and more from the people they support. It's the great American tragedy of the last 4 decades.
Al M (Norfolk Va)
The corporate media, including the Times, does Manchin a favor. If the bothered to say what is in this legislation, like lowering medicine prices, funding for child care, job-creating climate action, expanding Medicare to include eyes, ears and teeth and making community college tuition-free --all of which are highly popular, even more people would support it. Instead we hear endless "concern" about the $3.5 Trillion cost without mentioning that it is over 10 years of that it is an investment that will along with taxing the wealthiest, pay or itself. If only such concern and consternation accompanies Pentagon giveaways. It is time or corporate media to act responsibly rather than fronting for the tax-dodging 1% at the ultimate cost for the rest of us.
Harry Flamm (Cambridge)
To put this into context, there are less than 50,000 coal jobs in the ENTIRE country! Coal is only king to the company owners.
michjas (Phoenix)
Democrats are in the habit of claiming that the working class doesn’t understand its political interests. In short, they think the working class are ignorant and follow self-defeating politics. That’s pretty arrogant, of course, and tends to assure that the working class will resent Democrats. It seems pretty clear that, by alienating the working class Democrats are politically self-defeating and it suggests that Democrats don’t understand their own political interests any better than the working class.
Al M (Norfolk Va)
@michjas Americans are the least informed people on the planet, largely because most rely to biased corporate media which omits much and prefers narratives and feel-good stories to actual fact-based journalism.
hawk (New England)
Utter nonsense Krugman. There is absolutely no scientific link between weather and global temps and you cannot present metrics because there are none. That river your colleague sited flooded back in 1972 And here’s another thought, the House Speaker represents District 12 in CA, total population is 700,000. Her last election? She gathered just 281,776 votes. That’s how America got Pelosi who is under scrutiny for her amazing rise in wealth recently So let’s not go raggin on West Virginia my dear academic friend! Give it up. Build back broke is DOA and the country doesn’t want it. And why should the taxpayers pay for a charging station for my electric car when only the wealthy can afford them? BTW, WV already has State sponsored Pre-K along with a Federal program called Head Start
As B (On This Crazy Planet)
Seems he wants to protect himself and his son, when it comes to money.
DavidS (92672)
Republicans on average live 35 years in the past. Apparently, Joe Manchin does too.
Jose (Franklin NC)
Unfortunately our political system favors ideological marketing over pragmatic leadership. Joe Manchin does not care one iota about the well-being of his constituents, only being in tune with their ignorant and self-defeating thinking. And squeezing campaign contributions and a future lobbying job from prolonging the agony - and profits - of dying industries. I can just imagine how a President Trump might have dealt with recalcitrant senators from his own party. Sinema and Manchin types would be wandering in the wilderness right now. Alas, President Joe does not share those killer instincts, which can come in handy in a pinch. Apparently he wasted his eons in the Senate, and didn't gather the goods on his colleagues to browbeat them as president, a la LBJ.
Independent (Scarsdale, NY)
Not sure what the point of this article is. Is it to get Progressives riled up? Nobody should be surprised what Manchin's policy positions are. So I guess the strategy is to go all in on a radical policy agenda knowing you don't' have the votes and then to shame the 2 senators you need to pass your legislation. That must be the strategy unless the point of it all is to whine a lot.
dudley thompson (maryland)
The Senator from West Virginia is not the demon. The progressives have an agenda that has no mandate or support from the American people yet that agenda is tanking Biden's presidency. If the revolutionary changes are passed Democrats can kiss the Senate, House and Biden's presidency good-bye. Pundits don't want to admit it. They would rather blame the moderates for blocking a revolution that the people don't want. I have some advice for pundits. Talk to the rest of the country. Stop singing to that coastal elite choir.
mrfreeze6 (Italy's Green Heart)
You are all having this unpleasant conversation because of your failed constitutional institutions, namely the Senate. It's bad enough that WV, VT, WY, etc. have 2 Senators each with miniscule populations, but consider that Manchin won his WV seat with only 280,000 votes. Let that sink in for a moment. I know many of you consider your constitution to be a sacred creation of geniuses that was ordained by god. Unfortunately, you now find yourselves facing some very serious problems that put your society at risk. And who is sitting at the head of the executive table, in control of your country today: a venal, cynical corporate operative who is there because of your ridiculous electoral system.
Mike Oare (Pittsburgh)
Joe Manchin is worried about Governor Jim Justice and his next reelection campaign. Justice will beat him in a landslide in this turned Trump state.
PATRICK (Pennsylvania)
Political leaders kill our young in their wars of diversion all the time, so what is so surprising about Manchin and others killing their own as well?
Citizen (Chicago)
I suspect there are few subscribers to the NY Times in West Virginia. The clear and plane logic of this piece will not make its way to the West Virginian masses. And they will keep voting for good ol Joe, despite the fact that he doesn't have their back.
fireinthehole (California)
While I agree with both the analysis and Krugman's taking to ask Joe Manchin, this approach also represents the problem the Democratic establishment will have in reaching and convincing voters like Mr. Manchin. Krugman, as is his wont, finger-wags and tries to intellectual embarrass his opponents (when they are nominally on his side): how can Joe Machin be so dumb and stubborn as to politic against the interests of his constituents? But this same strategy when employed by the Democratic establishment on recalcitrant independent voters would be disastrous, as pointed out lately by David Shop... Neither voters nor politicians tend to change their mind when told how stupid and mulish they are....
Shepherd (Germany)
We learned abput the complicated German election. Perhaps The Times could also inform their readers about Germany's 'Kindergeld'. You might even send Sen. Manchin a copy so that he could see that more advanced democracies use money for chikldren as a pillar of their social contract. It is not some wild-eyed Marxist scheme to bankrupt the state. It must be possible to convince informed American voters that the Republic is woefully out of step with how a modern democracy furthers the sense of community needed for a modern world.
Victor (Connecticut)
Ads need to be run in WV and AZ detailing what Manchin and Sinema are doing to their constituents.
Camp Ogre (West Grove, PA)
A great tragedy looms on Mr. Manchin's horizon: Instead of getting another half million coal dollars in his bank account, he may have to settle for nothing. He may have to settle for what he earns as a Senator, which is probably five or six times his average constituent's earnings. Will Mr. Manchin suck up the tragedy and do the right thing? Will he approve Biden's climate proposal in order to get West Virginians to safer ground? Or will he go for the money and let his constituents and Biden and the Democratic party fend for themselves? Stay tuned for another installment of The Misadventures of Money in American Politics.
pi (Massachusetts)
Americans seem to fall into two camps: everything is basically your fault and responsibility and we won't subsidize your poor decisions; or let's help people (especially children) first, and sort out responsibility second. Of course, neither is always the correct view, but making children pay for the parents' difficulties seems short-sighted and cruel.
Skip Montanaro (Evanston, IL)
@pi "Of course, neither is always the correct view, but making children pay for the parents' difficulties seems short-sighted and cruel." And very Old Testament biblical.
Darsan54 (Grand Rapids, MI)
@pi : I think I would rather fall into the "Let's help" camp. The former is basically used to justify being a rich jerk exploiting everyone else.
kaygeejay8 (Amissville, VA)
@pi I would be inclined towards the ‘help first and assign responsibility later’ camp. Except the responsibility part never arrives.
historyRepeated (Massachusetts)
Manchin is about himself and his wealthy donors. His claims of fiscal responsibility land on deaf ears of his constituents and any critical thinking adult. Give Manchin a huge carve-out, collect his vote, then rub is face in the hypocrisy when the time is right.
alan brown (manhattan)
@historyRepeated Any way you slice it Manchin was elected, as a Democrat, in a Republican state in 2018. If the Republican, who came within 3% of beating Manchin had won the Senate Majority Leader would still be McConnell. Maybe a lot of Democrats have forgotten that close win in a Republican state. Manchin hasn't.
Maison (El Cerrito, CA)
@historyRepeated I wonder if term limits might be a solution. If one spends most of his/her time in Washington DC, they gradually loose connection with their people they supposedly represent. And getting re-elected becomes their priority and thus campaign donations ($$$) start to take over.
King (Houston)
@historyRepeated Call me cynical, but my first assumption is that any politician's first priority is getting elected/re-elected. Obviously if that doesn't happen, they can't help their constituents. And getting elected today is all about the money. Joe Manchin has learned a basic fact that every Republican politician has known for decades: the typical voter is too stupid to vote for their own best interest. So these surveys about what West Virginians want are irrelevant in the voting booth. Fear of socialism, handouts to the undeserving "other", and big government intrusion will dictate the winners. Manchin is not going to martyr himself just to do what he probably knows is right.
Michael (London UK)
In the old days politicians would act as leaders going into the market square to educate, explain, exhort and yes, entreat, that their constituents support a new policy or plan designed to make their lives better. Now all they do is go to a “rally” to surround themselves with sycophants and push their ignorant buttons to pour scorn on the “out group”. Manchin cannot be stupid. But he is a coward, too afraid to confront the prejudices and ignorance festering in his own voters.
Diane (Georgia)
Joe Manchin for President!
Reggie (MA)
Thank you for exposing Manchin for what he is. A fraud.
NYer in the EU (Germany)
Sen. Manchin, amongst your constituents, surely you know about the poor health conditions in your state. According to US News, which is a reliable source, your state rates (1 best - 50 worst): • Health 47 • Education: 45 • Infrastructure 50 • Economy 48 These facts tell a story, which are not lies...sad that West Virginians put their trust in a person like you!
Me (Miami)
We republicans LOVE this guy…..
Marc Panaye (Belgium)
I love the picture heading this opinion piece. You see 'senator' Manchin.... thinking..... What is he thinking? 'How much coal and fracking money will I get????'..... 'Is this a pose that makes me look serious???'..... 'Will people like me????' Hey but then, what can you expect from a fossil..... supporting fossil fuels? As long as Manchin's wallet is filled..... who cares about anyone or anything right?
Tim Barrus (North Carolina)
I am a communist. Make it nice. The word leadership has nothing to do with back-stabbing treason. I do not dare articulate what I actually think about Manchin. Or know. About the Black Rock Windsource LLC based in San Fransisco (not WV). If a journalist went to Boone County Black Rock Requests 3.1.a.4 might possibly translate to exemption from construction (what are they hiding) schedules. And possible financial oversite (they might need government help cleaning up Super Fund backyards because they have no money). Mannerisms count. Make it nice. Gatekeepers are complicit. Gatekeepers maintain tight control over what and how we think. They seek similitude. The word back-stabbing will get me kicked into the street again. Erase that. Make it nice. Allow me to take back the term back-stabbing. The word treasonous is relevant to relationships. Children have no rights. Be still. Those white patent leather shoes. I will never get them out of my photographic head. Thirty percent of WV kids have either lead pipes in typical Shack Housing or water from a river in milk jugs. Protective Services takes kids and kids die in Foster homes. We will eliminate child poverty. Rubbish. Not uncivil to write. Big profits. Big payouts. Big Daddy Big by Big Corruption. Metaphor. I worked in Head Start. Allow me to use at least one symbolism. Children are poor. It is their fault. It is their fault climate change is turning West Virginia into Big Coal's Leftover Slurry. Another metaphor. Make it nice.
Paul (VT)
Manchin is a DINO (Democrat in name only) or perhaps just a dinosaur.
Fred (Up North)
Betting on the sincerity of Joe Manchin is a fool's bet. In fact, betting on the sincerity of any of th Manchins is a dubious proposition. A series of articles in The Intercept last month may tell you all you need to know about Manchin's motivations. They are worth reading.
John (Cactose)
Why do we continue to advance the false idea that population is indicative of democratic legitimacy? This premise falls apart completely when you consider that no Senator or Representative represents more than 6% of the US population. Is a Senator who represents 1% of the population more "legitimate" in favoring or opposing legislation than someone who represents .5% of the population? For example, Bernie Sanders hails from Vermont, which is the 2nd smallest State in the Union. Sanders represents about 300,000 Americans, or .1 percent of our population. By Krugman's logic, Sanders should never ever be allowed to be the deciding vote on anything because he represents so few people. But there's nary a whisper of this reality when the concept of a "representative Democracy" comes up. Why? Bias is why. We only care about this when the vote doesn't go the way we'd like.
Downeast 60 (Maine)
Dr. Krugman, thank you for this column. But since you were too gentlemanly to mention it, I'll remind people that Joe Manchin's wife & daughter are also happy to feed at the public trough. Manchin's daughter, Heather Bresch, was the CEO of the drugmaker Mylan when they doubled the price of EpiPens back in 2011, & then when Mylan merged with Upjohn in 2019, Bresch left with an exit package of $37.6 million. In 2016 Manchin's wife, Gayle, was president of the West Virginia Board of Education when she spearheaded a campaign for all states to require schools to purchase EpiPens - life saving pens that Mylan pharmaceuticals (the company her daughter Heather Breschwas CEO of) had recently doubled the price of! Currently Gayle Manchin serves as the federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission, a US Senate-approved position paying roughly $163,000/year! What a family!
elisabethmontgomery (Emeryville, CA)
As a West Virginian I am thoroughly dismayed by Senator Manchin’s miserly hold on a Democratic New Deal over a TEN year period. His approach is self centered, mentalist, and proves he has no backbone against his real party’s founders (he’s a GOP in disguise). Here is the chance of a lifetime to revamp our poverty stricken, environmentally hazardous landscapes and waterways, our opioid suppressed citizens and he’s pandering to the consolidated coal and refinery’s demands to take the last vestiges of our people’s health and livelihoods. We the people of WVa see the green energy future. Our state could become the green renewable model for the world, IF this politician stops thinking about his gain, once and for all.
gARG (Carrborro, NC)
Classic case of a bought-and-sold politician. Government is completely broken and we need to stop hoping that corporate overlords and their purchased politicians will change our lives: they won't and never have. Unions and organized labor are the only answer: stop cranking the handle of the meat grinder that torments 99% of us.
Occams razor (Vancouver BC)
"But the most cynical takes on politicians’ behavior aren’t always right. I’d like to hope that Manchin is sincere" No, I think in this case, cynicism is the correct response. Follow the money. Manchin's stake in the coal industry is a classic case of conflict of interest.
Thick Brick (Glen Cove, NY)
The real estate values of Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas should be reassessed because Joe Manchin will continue to burn coal. Maybe those states could take up a collection and buy him out instead of go underwater?
birdgirl1955 (Georgia)
@Thick Brick The states should do that. His "allied" to coal companies sell the leavings from coal mines, meaning the coal the burns the worst and sells it to local small electric companies. The surrounding areas have had their environment affected, water, air, and making people sick. His home town is one of those areas. He doesn't care.
NotThatKind (Florida)
@Thick Brick You would have to out-bid Governor Justice, the Democratic turncoat who is now a republican.
David (DC)
Time for Joe M to go. He needs to be primaried.
Blaise (Chicago)
Manchin's fellow senator from WV Senator Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican, seems to be more of a straight shooter and to genuinely have the best interests of WV in mind. She was reported to be negotiating with Biden about the infrastructure bill, at least as of last May. I don't know much about her; she sure isn't in the news. Is there any hope that she might counter Manchin's "hold"? Can she be moved to be a lone GOP vote? Any comments please from WV readers.
Ryan Carlson (Minneapolis)
Look to the historic function of the rhetoric he is using: The implied undeservingness of the poor expressed by “work requirements” and the like is shorthand for racial categories. When the idea of the undeserving poor is triggered through such rhetoric, poor White people know the politician isn’t talking about *them.* This explains the apparent mystery of why poor White people actually support this political paradigm that seems to harm their material interests – it performs a classification that favors and flatters them. They are *on the same side* as the bosses. This mechanism is part of the inextricable bond between white supremacy and our economic system: Both are predicated on the notion that every stratum of the social hierarchy deserves its lot. Implying “shiftlessness” in the poor with “work requirements” (really exploitation requirements that harm the ability to parent) – projecting character defects onto the poor with racialized terminology – is key to establishing the deservingness of the better-off and removing any question of their culpability. This system is based on and instrumentalizes racism to justify exploitation. The rhetoric disguises this fact behind the talk of values, but the behavior of poor Whites gives the game away: They understand that the language of “dependence” doesn’t mean them and support the racist thrust of it. They just don’t see, perhaps, that that same racism is used to their detriment as an excuse for exploiting them as well.
jwgibbs (Cleveland, Ohio)
"Well, also Kyrsten Sinema, but does anyone know what’s going on with her?)" Does Kyrsten know what's going on with her?
Pedter Goossens (Panama)
"I’d like to hope that Manchin is sincere ...." I think we maybe all would like to think this, but there comes a moment (already passed) where believing that is naivete, and I would like to think that you are not.
Victor Sciamarelli (Italy)
Thanks in part to Chuck Schumer’s support, Senator Manchin is currently Chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Meanwhile, Paul Krugman states Manchin, “is reportedly against the Clean Energy Payment Program, the core of Biden’s attempt to take action on climate change.” One would think the Dems knew Manchin’s position on the climate before giving him the Chair and that a progressive voice would have been a better choice. For a democracy, the Senate is a peculiar institution. Where else can a vote of 59 to 41 be a loss for the majority? Yet, Manchin is opposed to eliminating the filibuster. As well as damaging the Dems in 2022 and 2024, I agree with Krugman that Manchin’s, “distorted vision is now endangering America’s future.”
Vincent (Honolulu)
What we're not speaking of here is the power of white identity politics. Trump won WV by more than 60 points last year, and most of them believe the lies of a "stolen election" the former administration. Manchin knows this. He also knows that white people routinely vote not for policies or issues effecting the real world based on facts and science, but on the identity of charismatic leaders who speak to their grievances. Some in subtle forms, like Regan, and some in the form of a dog with a ham in its mouth, like Trump. Manchin knows that most white people, especially non-college educated like his constituents, would rather their homes and their towns be swallowed up by the rising rivers and overflowing sewage of climate change than submit to what they consider losing to the "liberals." In a desperate attempt to preserve their cultural dominance, they will chop off their own nose to spite their face rather than share this country with people of color. Manchin knows this. White people don't come out and name it, but it all boils down to racism. And so it is the same with Joe Manchin.
DJK. (Cleveland, OH)
Good article. I have often scratched my head wondering what Manchin is thinking, especially when you see the rankings of every state in comparison to each other. WV is alway ranked in the bottom five states, and sometimes is ranked the number 1 worst state bumping out Mississippi. I just don't get Manchin's lack of support for his people.
El Jamon (An Undisclosed Location)
I lived in West Virginia for well over a decade and my relationship with the state extends over thirty years. The people of West Virginia have been exploited and abandoned ever since coal was discovered under the mountains. The entire West Virginia school system is designed for low expectations. Intelligence is looked down upon. Ignorance is heralded as virtue. Joe Manchin is incompetent. His leadership of West Virginia has not improved the lives of his constituents. It is still poor, ignorant, with the best chance of success being either working in the outdoor recreation industry (whitewater rafting and such) or leaving. Ignorance should not drive climate change policy. Why do we always succumb to the ignorant? Manchin is a slave holder, as he presides over a state of indentured servants and the walking dead.
cv10000 (Boston, MA)
Krugman's hubris has no end. Does he really think he knows more about what West Virginians want than their Senator?
Meredith (New York)
I'm so tired of seeing pictures of this guy-- here and on TV. We well know his name, and what he's doing---why do we need dramatic illustrations? Else no one will read the column? Gosh he looks like he's thinking so hard--- what about? His coal industry donors and the limits they set on policy? Krugman says...'some people say we should follow the money--- the large campaign contributions he gets from the fossil fuel industry, his personal financial stake in the coal industry.' No, that's not too cynical---instead it's exactly what our famous free press, our columnists and media should be talking about every day! What do you think is driving all this, Mr. Krugman? Or is it seen as too 'left wing' to want to reverse the Court's Citizens United ruling that legalized unlimited mega donor money in our politics? Even though the majority of Americans do want to reverse it? What's your opinion, PK?
Marc Panaye (Belgium)
Could somebody please explain to this 'senator' that West Virginia is not the U.S. of A.? It is only a small part of it. If this 'senator' wants to have coal for breakfast, be my guest dear 'senator'. Enjoy. If this 'senator' loves fracking for lunch, be my guest 'senator'. Enjoy! But please stop opposing plans to make the lives of all Americans better. Your West Virginian voters will thank you for that. Your coal and fracking money givers might get a bit upset, but hey... who cares about them right?
Eric L. Peters (Glenwood, IL)
Munchkin needs to consider whether his own already-considerable fortune is worth the lives onf the other 7.9 billion people on the planet. After all, his kids are set for life, especially his daughter who is now making eight times her recent salary.
Mark Paskal (Sydney, Australia)
What's Manchin Thinking? "What's in it for me?"
Roger Cohen (Lancaster Pa)
Whether his obduracy is against WV’s economic interests or not, Sen. Manchin, who understands his state’s electorate better than anyone since Robert Byrd, seeks to remain in viable position for re-election in a solid red state. At this point, he stands between America’s interest and Mitch McConnell leading a dangerous Senate majority. Manchin rightly says we need to elect more liberal Democrats to both houses of Congress. That should be our primary, our only goal at this stage of the battle. I may hate his policies, but I’d rather have Manchin.
Quoth The Raven (Michigan)
For Senator Manchin, it's not about subsidies or welfare as a matter of principle. And it's not about maintaining anything remotely approximating excellence in his home state. That ship sailed long ago. While Manchin objects to child care credits, his beloved coal industry in West Virginia continues to be subsidized by the American taxpayer. Since Manchin's family derives a considerable amount of income from the coal industry, and his state relies upon it, it should come as no surprise. Neither should his hypocrisy, which is not based on principle, but rather on selfishness and political calculation. West Virginia schools, in Manchin's state, rank near the bottom in the United States, and the state ranks similarly in terms of business. It should come as no surprise that his priorities have long left his own state in the dust. And we're supposed to stoop and genuflect to his political priorities? Perhaps Senator Manchin wants the rest of the country to decline to West Virginia standards. Better to drag everyone else down to his preferred levels rather than improving the playing field overall.
Bruce Maier (Shoreham, BY)
You are not cynical enough. Joe Manchin is protecting his half-million dollars a year return on his coal investment, and following GOP principles because W VA is a red state. He is a DINO, a Democrat in name only.
Robert_ (Como)
@Bruce Maier -- correct. Running on a party's ticket doesn't necessarily mean such candidate agrees with that party's platform. Sometimes is a strategic move. Could be that such a candidate knows he can't beat his like-minded opponent in the primaries where the turnout is generally limited more to the party faithful but may have a shot in the general where a candidate can attract a fuller voting constituency. My Trump-supporting BIL did this exact thing in a county sheriff race in Texas.
Jacquie (Iowa)
@Bruce Maier Don't forget about Joe Manchin's wife who earned $613,000 from the family energy company last year bringing their total together to $1.1 million. Manchin is only interested in entitlements to him and his family.
John D Warnock (Thelma KY)
Joe Manchin is protecting his own self interest first and foremost. If the interests of the rest of the people in West Virginia coincide with that is just a matter of circumstance. Coal operators make money through extraction and exploitation, whether it be from a coal seam or the people who actually do the work extracting the coal. That is the nature of the beast. Joe Manchin is a coal operator, understand that and you understand the man's motivation regardless of the altruistic image he nurtures in public.
M. Francis (MA)
Can someone please explain this all to Joe Manchin??
gARG (Carrborro, NC)
@M. Francis He above all cares about personal wealth - plain and simple.
Doug (nJ)
All Manchin cares about, as all republicans, yes he is one, is re-election.
John Ondespot (Ohio)
I have yet to see a story about Manchin's destructive pigheadedness that doesn't, at least obliquely, offer the excuse that he's doing what West Virginians want him to to do, being blood red conservatives. That is a blatant lie. West Virginians support Biden's bill (the big version, all $3.5 trillion) by a margin of 33%. That is, Mountaineers want Manchin to get off his super-well-funded duff and pass the bill. For all the fluffy hoo-hah, all the fake excuses, all the cheap bathos about "entitlement state", this is all Manchin, only Manchin, just because he feels like it. The man is a poisonous, self interested liar, and he's happy to hurt his people to get what he wants.
Memory Serves (Bristol)
What is Joe Manchin thinking? There's little evidence that he and Krysten Sinema think of anything beyond their own narcissistic sense of their self-importance.
Carl (Arlington, Va)
IMO, we have a third Senator who should be discussed -- Susan Collins. Maine went pretty decisively for Biden. She has 5 years left in her term. What is she still doing as an R? She could go independent like her Maine colleague, or at least cross over on some things. She's apparently just waiting for Biden's agenda to fail so she can get her committee back. My guess is, if you look at their whole careers, she's to the left of Manchin.
Sean M (Philadelphia)
I am doing to agree with Krugman that Manchin's stance has little to nothing to do with his donors and disagree with Krugman that Manchin's stance is because he's stupid. That always seems to be Krugman's explanation as to why anyone would not share his worldview: he is either evil or dumb. Maybe Manchin realizes it is in his personal political best interest to take this stance. That if he goes along with Biden's awful agenda, he will most certainly lose his next election. Selfish? Perhaps, but politicians generally are no more or less selfish than anyone else. The function of politics is to remain in office. That's why Manchin is doing what he is doing.
Pedigrees (SW Ohio)
@Sean M Why wouldn't it be in Manchin's political best interest to do what his voters want? Even WV Republicans favor the policies in "Biden's awful agenda." Apparently some of them are smart enough to realize that they'll benefit from the "awful agenda." It'd be hard not to benefit from these changes given WV's place at or near the bottom of every quality of life index.
james (Portland, Maine)
tyranny of the minority + tyranny of greed = end of our republic
@james Secession becomes a more viable solution.
Sharon5101 (Rockaway Park)
A better title for this article would be Joe Manchin Versus The Rest Of America. Or how about Joe Manchin Holds America Hostage??
JS from NC (Greensboro,NC)
The only thing Manchin (and Sinema) is going to respond to at this point is the Trumpian tactic of bullying; Biden and other Democratic leaders and financial backers need to send a clear message; sabotage what we are doing and there will be an endless, daily barrage of negative ads and social media posts and unlimited resources spent to damage your image and get you defeated.
Marjorie Summons (Greenpoint)
Maybe Manchin should spend some time championing climate change action among his constituents. Might be a good use of his power.
Sally Ann (USA) (Appalachia)
@Marjorie Summons Many West Virginians are well aware of climate change, especially younger people, and they demand action.
James (NH)
@Marjorie Summons Maybe progressives should get out of their collective bubble and go to WV and do the hard work of asking questions, listening, and figuring out how to get them onboard.
linhof (Santa Fe, NM)
@James Outstanding idea! Seriously. Sanders and Warren have been there. More Democrats should go there as well. I know it’s going to irk His Highness Manchin but who cares? The Democrats have got to start pushing the envelope.
Jeff (Illinois)
Americans from both parties continue to elect and re-elect candidates whose philosophies appeal to them, even when their actual performance clearly demonstrates that their values and motivations are at cross purposes. Expect that to continue if voters make their choices based on a very few made-for-media headline issues whose purpose is to divide, rather than focusing on how to have their best interests actually represented.
Dennis (Alexandria)
As for Manchin's opposition to clean electricity: He is a pawn of the coal industry. Period. Nothing else to it. As for the child tax credit: I don't know what is going on inside Manchin's head. Jobs are harder to come by in West Virginia than in almost any other state. Moreover, some elderly people (age 65+) are raising grandchildren or even great-grandchildren. Do we really expect a 70-year old single woman (or man) who is raising a child to work?
Excessive Moderation (Little Silver, NJ)
He's simply voting the way that will keep him in office which doesn't say much for the lack of foresight of his constituents. He can orate pretty well off the back of his yacht, can't he?
Edward B. Blau (Wisconsin)
Manchin mkes his money by buying and selling coal. He realizes he is unlikely to be reelected and unless the Democrats can promise him a sinecure that is as profitable after he leaves office he will continue to act is his self interests. Most of the people who vote for Republicans vote against their economic self interests. Their grievances mean more to them than money.
JFC (Havertown PA)
Manchin’s opposition to the climate change and child care measures makes perfect sense. And it’s exactly what his constituents want. His position is what a Republican would do. And it’s what Republican voters want. Joe Manchin wants to look like a Republican. Republican voters no longer even think about things like wages, health care, climate policy, child care policy or any other government benefits. This is especially true of the white working class. All they want is to own the libs. You’ve been criticized in the past for being too cynical. But sometimes that’s what fits the facts. My cynicism tells me that this deal won’t get done because a Republican would block it. I hope I’m wrong.
Raven (Earth)
How does a US Senator earning $180k per year have a net worth of $10 million dollars and own a yacht? Good question. And, I think we all know the answer.
Jas (Brooklyn)
“Manchin appears ready to veto policies that would be in the interests of his own constituents.” Hold up. Isn’t that the entire Republican party?
Lolly (SW PA)
@Jas That's it in a nutshell. Our poorest states are the reddest states and their representatives are mostly Republicans, who have gotten very wealthy. Hmmm. And we all have the mistaken notion they must be very smart if they have all that money. Well, maybe not. It's my own opinion that Manchin isn't very smart, not US Senate smart, anyway, and just likes all the attention he's getting. The idea that he might actually do something for the people of WV, well, it's likely it never crossed his mind.
Martin (Chapel Hill)
Paraphrasing many including Paul Krugman: Of course, I don’t expect politicians and lobbyists to understand such arguments; as Upton Sinclair said, it’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his RE-ELECTION depends on his not understanding it.
Robert FL (Palmetto, FL.)
A senator in the coal business is standing up for the coal industry at the peril of his constituents. I think his economic "philosophy" is obvious.
Moscow Mom (Stowe, VT)
Child care, clean jobs, better health care, clean water are all things West Virginians, as well as other states, need. While Manchin sits on his big boat, West Virginia sinks. You can't say Manchin doesn't take care of himself.
Mad Moderate (Cape Cod)
The easiest way to understand Manchin is to think that he is following the identity politics of the vast majority of his conservative constituents. Democrats representing progressive urban districts bend to this same force in a different direction (arguably, progressive urban identity politics are over-represented in the Democratic party as a whole). Identity politics are like religion. They often defy logic, common sense and self interest. But they are hot and powerful and have more influence on voting than cold blooded appeals to pocketbooks and future generations. Politicians don't succeed by telling constituents what they don't want to hear. But if they wrap a response to an unpleasant truth into identity, say "patriotism," then constituents are willing to make sacrifices. Trump has used this kind of identity politics to get his followers send him hard cash. Trump is a genius at this. No Democrat has his gift (or grift), certainly not Joe Manchin. Manchin is representing the identity wishes of his voters. He can only go so far or he'll lose his position as their representative. But Democrats in general can make Joe's job easier by toning down the culture wars that are the lifeblood of conservative identity today. It may sound silly, but I think it's true. If Kamala Harris gave a big speech on enforcing controls at the southern border, it could help Joe Manchin move to the left on climate change.
PaulB67 (South Of North Carolina)
Manchin, IMO, also misreads the role Senators are supposed to play in politics. Congress has two wings: the House and the Senate. House members face re-election every two years and, as a consequence, are supposed to be intensely focused on their local constituent needs. They are credited with being most "in touch" with constituents. Senators by contrast, with six-year terms, are tasked with looking beyond their state's borders to carefully consider national interests. Of course, they must pay close attention to state needs, but they also are supposed to work cooperatively with their Senate colleagues on matters of critical national issues. The best Senators do both with aplomb, Ted Kennedy being a case in point, or Amy Klobuchar in today's Senate.Manchin, however, is acting just like the most uselss and least effective of Senate lawmakers. He brings to the Senate a narrow, isolated political ideology that is more about personal preferences than his state's best interests. Representatives have much the easier job: follow the lead of their voters. Senators, however, must have a broader view and a great deal more imagination about how to deal with national needs. Manchin is. in sum, failing to do the job for which he was elected, to the disadvantage of the nation as a whole.
Alec (Dallas)
Reading Mr. Krugman's column reminds me of Bernie Sanders' op-ed in the Charleston Gazette-Mail. I surmise tha West Virginians don't respond well to progressive/socialists telling them what is best for them.
lars (vt)
@Alec - In re to: "I surmise... West Virginians don't respond well to progressive/socialists telling them what is best for them." Nevertheless, West Virginia voters, when given the option of raising taxes on the richest Americans and corporations, while closing the loopholes that have caused significant wealth disparities, showed support for Biden’s reconciliation plan plan of as high as 70% in recent polling.
vtmd73 (Ohio)
West Virginia and its people can be difficult to understand. At one time in my career, I treated several patients from West Virginia and come to realize they had a view of the world and life unlike that of others. In addition I once considered working at the University Hospital but was dissuaded when I Civil War wasn't over in West Virginia. Manchin may still be living in the 19th century and trying to legislate in the 21st. Regardless he seems to be unable to get his head around the real issues of drugs, joblessness, poverty, and poor education that affects so many West Virginians while he lives on a yacht in D.C.
John (LINY)
This is a man who raised a child that made it harder and more expensive for sick people to get their medicine. Not helping people is the family tradition. Money makes it all worthwhile.
Christina Robison (Ontario, NY)
@John Thank you for reminding me of this, John. Here is a link about Manchin’s daughter:
maggie (toronto)
Manchin is a generation behind in his thinking, which makes a cogent argument for term limits.
Steve (Downers Grove, IL)
Bernie Sanders wrote an Op Ed in Sen. Manchins hometown newspaper that laid out the parts of the BBB bill that Manchin is against, and how his opposition seemed to be against the interest of West Virginians. In Manchin's response, he virtually SPAT out the word "socialist" in referring to Sanders, as if that was argument enough to win over his constituents. Sorry Joe, but that's not going to cut it. The people of West Virginia are more savvy than that. You need to show them why affordable child care, and reasonably priced medicine is bad for them. Continuing to tell them that climate change is a hoax and that they should NOT be part of a green economy is sounding pretty backward to them. You've had your constituents kayak up to your yacht to let you know this, but you weren't listening, Joe. START listening!
Gl (Prague)
…or get out of the way.
KLP (Rockville)
A work requirement for child support? The parent who can't afford to provide for their child should be forced to find child care so they can work? Who pays for the child care? Do tax dollars then go to pay for the child care and child support so they can eat while the parent makes $12 an hour?
Concerned MD (Pennsylvania)
If young people ever needed a more compelling reason to get to the polls and vote out the GOP and faux Democrats like Manchin, they just need to look at their obstruction of everything related to environment, gun control, women’s rights, voting rights, educational support and a social safety net.
Jeff Atkinson (Gainesville, GA)
I too would like to hope that Manchin is sincere, that his distorted view of what's good for the people of his state isn't just a convenient pose for a pol with large investments in coal and who gets lots of money from other fossil fuel interests. I'd like to hope he can be made to understand and the coal trains to the power plants will stop before it's too late. But it's a foolish hope, divorced from reality. Isn't it?
Am Brown (Spain)
The fact appears to be that he simply doesn't care about the country or its future. Just the attention he's getting.
Sally (Vermont)
@Am Brown Or the planet.
Mitch G (Florida)
Manchin suggests that means testing is important for certain entitlements. Has he considered that building the bureaucracy to monitor enforcement might actually cost more than allowing the small percentage of high earners to also be eligible for these benefits? If eligible, how many would take advantage? How many high earners are sending their kids to community college instead of a prestigious university?
Branagh (NYC)
There's Black Lung, the highest in the nation, WVs the principal place for lung transplants in the nation, most now paid for by US tax payers. Between 1968 to 2014, around 76,000 coal miners are estimated to have died from black lung disease. Cases of black lung disease have risen in recent years, especially in Appalachia among young miners. It's not only damaged lungs. The Black Lung Disability Trust Fund was established 1977, Mitch McConnell has tried to sabotage renewal. Manchin has shown scant regard for this industry that has caused disability and death in WV. There's the opiate crisis, near the worst in the nation - we're paying Senator Manchin State for that as well. There's a child hunger crisis in West Virginia. There's an urgent need to expand Obamacare. He's funded by the pollution industries, he has financial interests there. family members are big in Big Pharma - what a disturbing spectacle. His views on child care - nightmarish. Equally nightmarish, not one RP senator - how Susan Collins deceived. Any chance Lisa Murkowski might come to the rescue?
caljn (los angeles)
He's 75, an age where one is typically a step or two behind. You're not in tune with what's going on now, especially in ever expanding and changing technology. We have far too many in the Democratic party who are past their sell by dates and should be thanked for their service.
eclectico (7450)
@caljn Baloney ! The alte-cockers I know are far more with it than the young whipper-snappers.
Am Brown (Spain)
@caljn And the Republican party does?
Quoth The Raven (Michigan)
@caljn This isn't about age. It's about selfishness and sell by dates, something Manchin has apparently exceeded.
See also