Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) leaves his office after speaking with President...

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) leaves his office after speaking with President Joe Biden about his long-stalled domestic agenda, at the Capitol in Washington on Dec. 13. Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin is a political hero today not just because he's standing in the way of his party's reckless and overreaching spending bill, although that certainly is an admirable service to the country, but also because he stood up for the people of his state.

Manchin has been badgered, battered and belittled for months by colleagues and President Joe Biden for not joining every other Democrat in rubber-stamping the nearly $5 trillion Build Back Better bill.

Then he went back home to West Virginia. And he listened to his constituents. They told him they didn't trust Biden and wanted no part of his socialist ambitions or the massive deficits and Big Government expansion that would come with this bill.

Manchin on Sunday declared himself a "no" vote on Build Back Better, citing the concerns of his citizens as well as his own long-standing worries about its huge cost and inflationary impact.

His opposition dooms the bill, at least in its current form, since all 50 Republican senators are opposed in the deadlocked chamber.

And now the wrath of the left is raining down on the senator.

Democrats who had been alternately courting and coercing Manchin lashed out at his "betrayal." Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders accused him of bowing to special interests, notably the fossil fuel industry, over the interests of his people. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, in a particularly smarmy statement, reminded Manchin that West Virginia is the nation's second poorest state and would benefit from all of the giveaways in the package.

It's quite likely that Manchin knows West Virginians better than either Sanders or Psaki. In a recent poll, the senator received a 60% approval rating from state voters, compared with Biden's 32%.

And while it may baffle the White House that a hard-pressed people would instruct their senator to turn down a new sack of free stuff, West Virginia has an understandable suspicion of government, particularly Democrat-run government. The Democrat's green agenda is killing jobs in West Virginia, and Build Back Better promised to accelerate that employment loss.

West Virginians don't want more dependency. They want the government to get out of the way and let them get back to work. That's why they urged Manchin to kill the bill.

It shouldn't be so shocking that he followed their wishes. But it is rare. The last time a single senator derailed a major partisan initiative was when the late Sen. John McCain, in a vindictive rebuke of President Donald Trump, cast the deciding vote against the GOP's Obamacare reforms.

What is truly shocking is how close such a transformational piece of legislation came to passing. It would have pushed an evenly divided nation far to the left, and done so on a straight partisan vote. The White House itself compared its impact to FDR's New Deal and LBJ's Great Society, both of which enjoyed broader support and addressed dire national needs.

No comparable crisis exists today, with the economy recovering and new jobs being created. The president tried to sell it as "free," claiming it would be paid for by soaking the rich and corporations. But the Congressional Budget Office exposed that lie with a revised scoring that placed the true deficit at $3 trillion, making Manchin's decision easier.

Build Back Better's presumed death is being called a defeat of Biden's agenda and a blow to Democrats' election hopes in 2022. That's telling in that it deals only with the politics, and not the policies. Democrats have done very little to explain what's in the bill and how it would impact the lives of Americans, casting its benefit primarily as a boost to a sagging president.

And while it may yet revive as a smaller package, Democrats are not likely to see the radical reshaping of America they envisioned come to fruition. And for that the nation can thank Joe Manchin, a senator who did his people's bidding.


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