Manchin's Math Lesson

Is failure an option?

Happy Friday and welcome to October!

No deal, no vote last night so the game of political chicken continues, along with mandatory hot takes about Dems in Disarray.

Here’s one of them:

Somewhat belatedly, Democrats are realizing that they have a problem: they simply do not have the votes to get everything they want.

Democrats do not have 218 votes in the House for the full metal jacket progressive agenda; and they do not have 51 progressive votes in the US senate.

That’s the context for this comment Thursday from Senator Joe Manchin, who alluded to the basic arithmetic of our political moment.

His point: You want a progressive unicorn? You’re going to need a bigger caucus of unicorn fans.

Beat up on Manchin and Sinema all you want, but right now the numbers just aren’t there for a functioning majority.

Unless they decide to blow themselves up, Democrats do have enough votes for a bipartisan infrastructure compromise (which passed the Senate with 67 votes). But, for the moment, they don’t have enough for the strictly partisan package formerly known as the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill. (That bill could still pass, but it will be a much smaller number.)

Well, I can hear you saying, Duh.

All of this should have been obvious a long time ago, but such is the power of political hubris and ideological echo chambers, that it seems to be coming as something of a shock to certain corners of the punditocracy, who had fantasies of FDR/LBJ redux.

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