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The problem creation caucus

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The absolute worst elected officials in the Democratic Party, Manchin and Sinema absolutely included, are the conservative House Democrats from affluent blue states:

Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) is gauging support among House centrists for a counteroffer to the emerging Senate reconciliation package, with one big clause: No new taxes.

Why it matters: Any attempt to modify a deal that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer may reach with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) could scuttle the entire package. That could deprive President Biden — and vulnerable lawmakers — of a pre-election win at a time of real weakness.Gottheimer’s discussions target a small group that includes Reps. Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-Ga.), Ed Case (D-Hawaii), Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.), Susie Lee (D-Nev.) Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) and Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.).

The big picture: Manchin has been adamant he wants higher taxes on corporations to bring down the deficit and help fight inflation.For months, his shorthand has been a 2:1 ratio of fresh revenues to new spending, with some $500 billion going to deficit reduction.

But early House discussions led by Gottheimer don’t envision any new taxes on corporations or wealthy individuals. The Trump tax cuts on corporations and individuals would remain in place.

Annoying as Manchin certainly is, he’s also basically the only registered Democrat left in his state; there’s only so much one can realistically expect as long as he has a veto. Gottheimer has no such excuse and his demands are consistently even sillier, more disruptive of the coalition, more parochial and more reactionary than Manchin’s. (No new increases on the wealthy? That’s your ask?)

In theory, the fact that Democrats need to compete across a wider map than Republicans to get majorities could produce moderate legislators from swing districts who would force the party to focus on the most popular measures that command broad support from the party. Instead, the most important Dem House conservatives are laser-focused on protecting the interests of their richest constituents even if it brings the whole party down. It’s very bad.

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