Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia broke from his own party to torch the $3.5 trillion social welfare and climate change spending bill. Manchin proclaimed that the government spending trillions right now would be "fiscal insanity."
"Every Member of Congress has a solemn duty to vote for what they believe is best for the country and the American people, not their party," Manchin declared in a statement released Wednesday. "Respectfully, as I have said for months, I can't support $3.5 trillion more in spending when we have already spent $5.4 trillion since last March. At some point, all of us, regardless of party must ask the simple question — 'how much is enough?'"
"What I have made clear to the President and Democratic leaders is that spending trillions more on new and expanded government programs, when we can't even pay for the essential social programs, like Social Security and Medicare, is the definition of fiscal insanity," Manchin continued.
"Proposing a historic expansion of social programs while ignoring the fact we are not in a recession and that millions of jobs remain open will only feed a dysfunction that could weaken our economic recovery," Manchin said. "This is the shared reality we all now face, and it is this reality that must shape the future decisions that we, as elected leaders, must make."
Manchin proposed that "any expansion of social programs must be targeted to those in need, not expanded beyond what is fiscally possible." He also recommended that the tax code "be reformed to fix the flaws of the 2017 tax bill and ensure everyone pays their fair share but it should not weaken our global competitiveness or the ability of millions of small businesses to compete with the Amazons of the world."
The Democrat suggested, "The amount we spend now must be balanced with what we need and can afford — not designed to reengineer the social and economic fabric of this nation or vengefully tax for the sake of wishful spending."
Manchin sounded the alarm that spending trillions would cause even more inflation that would hurt American families.
"While I am hopeful that common ground can be found that would result in another historic investment in our nation, I cannot — and will not — support trillions in spending or an all or nothing approach that ignores the brutal fiscal reality our nation faces," Manchin said.
"America is a great nation but great nations throughout history have been weakened by careless spending and bad policies," Manchin concluded. "Now, more than ever, we must work together to avoid these fatal mistakes so that we may fulfill our greatest responsibility as elected leaders and pass on a better America to the next generation."
The defiant statement could spell a potential death blow to the massive spending bill because Manchin's vote could derail the proposal. Republicans oppose the $3.5 trillion spending bill — which could cost between $5 trillion and $5.5 trillion over a decade. Democratic leadership desperately wants to pass the huge spending bill, but would need a simple majority of 51 votes in the Senate to pass it. That would require a "yes" vote from every Senate Democrat, including Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.). Both Manchin and Sinema have publicly opposed the hefty price tag of the bill.
Sinema said in July, "I have also made clear that while I will support beginning this process, I do not support a bill that costs $3.5 trillion — and in the coming months, I will work in good faith to develop this legislation with my colleagues and the administration to strengthen Arizona's economy and help Arizona's everyday families get ahead."
"Biden reportedly met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) at the White House Wednesday afternoon following a series of meetings Tuesday with Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), who oppose both the size of the social spending package and key provisions in it," the Fiscal Times reported.
Meanwhile, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) contended that the reconciliation bill should spend $3.5 trillion "at a minimum."
"If Mr. Manchin is concerned about the deficit — I think we all are, national debt — I'm sure he understands that this bill is not going add one nickel to the deficit because it's all going to be paid for by demanding the wealthy and large corporations starting to pay their fair share of taxes," Sanders said Wednesday, echoing the Democratic talking point that the entire $3.5 trillion in spending will "cost zero dollars" and be paid for by taxing wealthy Americans and big corporations.