Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Literary Corner: Vulnerable to the Reliability

I call this his "deer in the headlines" look. Via Fox News.

If the Supreme Court really comes up with a way of finding the Texas Posse Postcoitum Act constitutional, I'm going to demand that New York State enact a bill deputizing private citizens to enforce libel law by filing suits against liars on behalf of reality itself, and spend the rest of my life hunting bounties, $10,000 at a clip from all the Republicans I can catch. 

I'm not sure I'll go after Senator Manchin, because his stupid act is getting so convincing I'm not at all sure he's lying, as in this interview with Dana Bash at CNN:

The Urgency That We Have

by Joseph Manchin III

What's the urgency? What's
the urgency that we have? It's not
the same urgency that we have
with the American Rescue Plan. We
got that out the door quick, it was
about $2 billion — $2 trillion. And
on top of that, all the things we
have got with the CARES package,
everything leading up to that. So,
we have done an awful lot and there's
still an awful lot of people that need help.
But you have 11 million jobs that aren't
filled right now. 8 million people are still
unemployed. Something's not matching up.
Don't you think we ought to hit the pause
and find out? The vulnerability that we have,
Dana, right now, we don't know what is happening
with this COVID. It's awful, coming back
the way it is with a vengeance. And
we don't know about inflation. We know
it's running rampant right now. I can tell you,
in West Virginia, inflation's running rampant.

And, on top of that, the challenges we're
going to have, geopolitical challenges.
Shouldn't we be prepared?

Some of the urgency would be in the fact that the expanded child tax credit from the American Rescue Plan, which goes to 94% of West Virginia's children, more than 345,000 families, is going to expire on 31 December. If the American Rescue reduced child poverty in the US by 50%, that number is going right back up on New Year's Day, including in West Virginia (which has the nation's seventh highest rate of child poverty, and the nation's second lowest median household income). That needs to be fixed, quickly, preferably before it's made more difficult by the demands of the 2022 election campaign, in which Manchin used to say he wasn't going to run, but now he says "You never know." (He'll be turning 75, and he says "Washington sucks," but he's got a $4-million war chest.) 

On the other hand Manchin's been making Republican noises about the expanded tax credit:

And, first of all, child tax credits, think about this. If a child tax credit, you want to help the children and the parents that are basically providing for those children. There's no work requirements whatsoever. There's no education requirements whatsoever for better skill sets. Don't you think, if we're going to help the children, that the people should make some effort?

The old story, "I'm sorry but you're not making enough money to deserve charity." If Manchin's interested in getting the parents of young children into the labor force, he should be supporting the Biden bill's universal pre-K provision. Oh wait, he is, I think:

BASH: But should universal pre-K be in a bill like this that you would support?
MANCHIN: I don't have a problem because I universal pre-K. [Not my missing word.]

And if he's interested in "better skill sets" he should be campaigning to increase the $40 billion allocated for that purpose in the current proposals back to the $152 billion of the original proposals. He bragged hard enough about the $2.5 million he snagged for retraining coal workers in the (all-Democrat, reconciliaton-passed) April American Rescue bill.

He's also not very happy with the funding assigned to cut carbon emissions in half and achieve 80% clearn energy by 2030:

Let's look at what we have done for the last 20 years. In 20 -- in 2000, the year 2000, 52 percent of our electricity came from coal. Only about 16 percent came from natural gas, and only about 9.5 percent came from renewables, 20 years to date, OK?
2020, 19 percent from coal, 40 percent from natural gas, and up to 20 percent for renewables. The transition is happening. Now they're wanting to pay companies to do what they're already doing. Makes no sense to me at all for us to take billions of dollars and pay utilities for what they're going to do as the market transitions.

We have proven that. And we will continue to transition. They're accelerating something that could be very, very vulnerable to the reliability...

Vulnerable to the reliability of what?

No, in any case. If not for the Covid pandemic carbon dioxide emissions would barely be down by 16% over the past 20 years, and energy usage is springing right back already; EIA predicts they will be pretty much back to 2019 levels by 2022:

With eight years, at that point, to get to the 2030 goals of 50%. I don't think so. In the end of the hottest summer in human history, and in the midst of historically catastrophic flooding and cataclysmic drought and fire seasons east and west in our own country, now universally understood to be caused by global warming.

There's some urgency for you. And electricity isn't actually the main problem, in spite of what Manchin says—emissions there have been dropping at a tremendous pace, thanks to the replacement of coal with renewables—but transportation, car and truck emissions, which have been increasing during the same period, and which is what the reconciliation legislation mainly aims at, with the subsidies for auto manufacturers and the thousands of charging stations.


The bottom line is, do we have the urgency to spend another $3.5 trillion right now? 

It's not to be spent right now. It's to be spent over a ten-year period, $350 billion a year, and it is meant to be completely offset by reversing some of the Trump tax gifts to the very wealthy (which is once again why there is no reason to fear its inflationary effects). 

Of course maybe it's really just about the taxes, as I was saying the other day. 

BASH: OK, and that's -- you have another side of this negotiation and some of your fellow Democrats, which I want to get to in a second, but let's just stay on, what they call here in Washington to pay-fors, how the -- your fellow Democrats want to pay for this.
They're looking at increasing the corporate tax rate, closing existing loopholes, raising taxes on wealthy Americans, trying to get money back from...
MANCHIN: I agree with...
BASH: Get the IRS to get money back.
MANCHIN: IRS. I agree with all of that. I agree with all of it.
One of the weirdest things here is that he really means it, as far as you can tell. He voted against the Trump tax cuts four years ago, for eminently good reasons

Manchin believes West Virginians will see the tax bill like he does: a closed process that explodes the deficit in ways Ronald Reagan would never have allowed, helps the rich and makes little impact in the paychecks of the people in his state.
—and now he's turning down a chance to reverse some of that, in the first place because he "just doesn't believe them"
BASH: And they say they can add that up to 3.5, and there will be not a dollar...
MANCHIN: No, let's...
BASH: This is what they're saying -- added to the debt.
BASH: You just don't believe them?
MANCHIN: No, I don't believe them. I'm just saying that those rates are not going to be competitive to find out the money.
and because the corporate tax needs to be "competitive", which is at least respectably arguable
Here's the difference. They're looking for $3.5 trillion. I'm looking for a competitive tax rate, OK? I want to make the adjustments and changes. They're looking for basically...
BASH: What does competitive tax rate mean? Can you define that?
MANCHIN: Yes, be globally competitive. Dana, you have to be globally competitive. You back can't be... 
BASH: Right. But can you give a -- can you explain...
only he's using it to denounce the hike in capital gains tax, and when does he get to corporate tax he flees the field immediately and returns, without transition, to confused complaints about the spending:
MANCHIN: First of all, you can't be at 39 percent as far as cap gains, capital gains. I said 28 all in, OK? You can't be at 28 or 30 or more with corporate net. I said 25 all in.
And I think that every corporation should pay a minimum of 15 percent. They should all pay something. I believe in that. But the bottom line is, the need that we have -- you understand that they have put no restrictions whatsoever or qualifications on any of this as means testing...
So who knows what he's up to? But I'm sticking for now with the idea I got from Josh Marshall last week, that he doesn't quite care what he says because he's just playing positioning, and he's not going to tank the bill. A tiny bit of evidence for that surfaced a couple of days ago:

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