America’s biggest boost to the welfare state in half a century runs the risk of being shelved in the drawer of never-before-done big projects if West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin fulfills his threat to vote in early January. against him in the upper house.
President Joe Biden’s proposal is not just another legislative measure. The so-called Reconstruir Mejor Program is a gigantic investment of 1.95 billion euros that combines energy transformation with social investment. Among other things, it opens the door to free education for children between three and four years old, subsidies for certain drugs, expansion of the health system and the creation of millions of jobs. It is about improving the living conditions of millions of Americans and at the same time promoting an urgent transformation of the energy model of the most influential democracy in a world that is beginning to leave it behind. Some dictatorial or illiberal systems threaten both to take the lead and, more dangerously, to present themselves as a model of success in the face of inoperative democracies.
President Biden has lowered the initial project of 3 trillion euros to the 1.95 under debate to overcome any reluctance in the Democratic field, but it remains a radical change. And that is how the House of Representatives has understood it, which by 220 votes in favor and 213 against, approved it on November 19. In the Senate the situation is more complicated but not insoluble. There is a 50-seat tie situation between Democrats and Republicans that only the vote of the President of the Senate and Vice President of the country, Kamala Harris, is capable of breaking before an intransigent Republican opposition, but for this it is essential that all Democrats vote together .
And here comes the Democratic senator Manchin, who, breaking the promise made to the president, has announced his vote against in a few days. The senator from West Virginia is especially opposed to 550,000 million dollars going to renewables because that is detrimental to the coal and oil industry, where he has direct economic interests for which he has entered millions of dollars through companies administered by your child. It is not surprising that he is the member of both Houses that receives the most donations from the fossil energy industry.
But it would not be fair to place the blame for a possible failure of this momentous plan solely on one of the 50 Democratic senators. On Capitol Hill, there are 50 other Republican senators waiting in the face of what they consider a possible political defeat for the president, when in reality they are helping the United States lose a perhaps irrecoverable historic opportunity. Politics is the art of the possible and Biden is still on time. There are voices that ask to leave the senator “most republican of the democrats” in his refusal and try to convince “the most democratic of the republicans.” Whatever the strategy, the project and its repercussions go far beyond the borders of the United States and the pockets of some of its representatives.