What Kind of Democrat Would Joe Manchin Be?
During the U.S. Senate debate in Morgantown, W.Va., last night, Republican John Raese’s campaign kept me faithfully updated with emails pairing Gov. Joe Manchin’s (D) latest “rhetoric” with the “reality” of his past stances on various issues.
The emails told me that last night Manchin said “[Obama] is dead wrong on cap-and-trade,” “I don’t think, during a time of recession you mess with any of the taxes, or increase any taxes,” and “I am not prepared to scrap the entire [Obama health care] bill. There’s parts that need change. There are parts that need repeal” — then referred me to statements by Manchin in the past in which he appeared to indicate mixed feelings on extending the tax cuts and stronger support for Obama’s health care bill.
The Raese campaign’s argument was that Manchin was posturing with his more conservative views, but some Democrats might be taking away the opposite fear: What liberal views does Manchin still hold, and what, if anything, could he be relied upon to vote for in the Senate?
Just the other week, the West Virginia Gazette ran a story headlined, “Manchin tries to reassure labor after Chamber endorsement,” in which Manchin told reporters that he opposed key provisions of the Employee Free Choice Act — the unions’ primary legislative goal in Congress — and some union leaders grumbled privately about the issue but affirmed their support in public.
Manchin, of course, is in no danger of losing union support, but the reasons — his belief in a minimum wage and mine safety laws, and his opposition to privatizing social security — are getting pretty minimalistic and speak to the dramatic rightward shift on economic issues that appears to be occurring in West Virginia, one of the poorest states in the union once known for its heavy unionization and economic populism.