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The bottomless narcissism of Joe Manchin

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Thank you so much Maine ticket-splitters for giving this guy a unilateral veto over everything:

Democratic and Republican senators are locked in a tough fight over unemployment benefits. And over Joe Manchin’s vote.

The two parties spent Friday afternoon battling for Manchin’s support on changes to federal unemployment benefits, showcasing how a 50-50 Senate can instantly swing power to one holdout. Senate Democrats struck a deal on Friday over the boosted unemployment benefits in President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, shortly before debate on the bill reached its peak. But Manchin (D-W.Va.) hasn’t agreed to go along.

An amendment readied by Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) would change the bill’s boosted weekly federal unemployment payments from $400, as approved by the House, to $300. That benefit would be extended through September instead of August, and the first $10,200 of unemployment insurance would be non-taxable income to help laid off workers avoid surprise tax bills.

But Manchin is also intrigued by a proposal from Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), which would extend the $300 unemployment benefits until July 18 — and amounts to a cut from both the Carper proposal and the House bill. Manchin spoke by telephone with Portman on Friday afternoon as the intrigue grew and the Senate stalled.

There’s only one possible takeaway here:

It would be one thing if he were horse-trading for some specific benefit for his constituents, or even sticking to some bad longstanding principle. But extending the UI benefit is extremely popular and Manchin represents a state with an unemployment rate over 6%. This is Lieberman killing the Medicare buy-in he had long favored to own the libs all over again. He’s not an old-school pol trying to leverage stuff for his state, he’s just the kid in the pool demanding everyone keep their eyes on him at all times and then relieving himself.

Manchin can’t be primaried without handing over the seat; the only solution is to win a couple extra seats and take away his veto power. Less than two months in and his diva routine is already intolerable.

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