121 Comments

Manchin is out of control. He cares more about the money he is receiving than the well-being of the American people. Personally, my teeth have been neglected and I am in need of much dental work, whereas my husband is in need of a hearing aid. We are both on Medicare. The nation needs basic health care and it is doable. Those poor West Virginians! And yes, Roe vs. Wade should become the law of the land. We are only going backwards when it comes to the needs and human rights of the people. It needs to happen for us like in other developed countries.

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Yes, it's difficult to believe that any 'pro-life' person really cares about saving the life of the unborn when we see their policies toward those of us who are actually on our own and breathing! I have not been to a dentist since before Covid hit. My hearing aids are well over their 5 year life expectancy, and I have severe dry eye, which has caused me to have surgery to remove a cyst on my upper lid. The cyst was covered by Medicare, but it could have been prevented by interventions that were not covered, because they are considered new or experimental. Some of these treatments have been around for 15 years! Oh, and I could use new glasses, too. I better get them soon so I can continue cutting hair. At 70 I'm still working to pay for things that are not covered! I do enjoy the work at least!

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What's ridiculous is that the American Dental Association opposes adding dental coverage to Medicare. What? The dentists don't want us to take care of our teeth!?

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Weird. Maybe some kind of payola going on from insurance interests? Or the dentists get more money from doing restorations and making dentures which need to be replaced or adjusted often? I was a dental hygiene student and learned how to clean, floss, and use Fluoride (Act mouth rinse). I was always at least a class 2 'perio' patient, which means all I needed was cleanings. very few restorations. I have all my teeth with only a couple of crowns. They don't make much money on me. Could it be that they want us to be more diseased?

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I think they are afraid that Medicare won't let them charge enough to make a "decent" profit. Concerning being "more diseased", the dentists tell us to take care of our teeth as we grow older, because gum disease shortens our lifetime by allowing disease and infection to spread to other parts of the body. Adding a dental benefit to Medicare could reduce health care costs enough in other areas to pay for itself.

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They don't want Regulation that would prevent them from putting profits over people. A Democracy enables "the people" to enact laws/regulations, but like every other effort of the wealthy/powerful, they don't want "the people" to use Democracy. They want us to believe that Government is bad (when Gov is our tool against them), by keeping us distracted with culture wars, gerrymandering, voter suppression, voter disinformation, etc., etc. and if all else fails, just end Democracy (the will of the people) and put an authoritarian Government in it's place- with a 'leader' the wealth/powerful can control.

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It's more likely that Dentists do not want Medicare involvement because it will only pay so much. They squabble about Delta Dental not paying enough for their services. Truly, Dentists get paid way too much as it is. It's this greed and mean-spiritedness.

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As you have indicated through your Sunday cartoons, the Big Money corporate donors that drive Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema (the knight-in-shining-armor maverick standing up to the Establishment!) are the same as those who drive Mitch McConnell. I can imagine him sitting back enjoying the spectacle, while covertly egging Manchin on. President Biden and Majority Leader Schumer likely don't want to directly criticize Manchin and Sinema because it would be counterproductive, but they could join Bernie Sanders in relentlessly criticizing the corporate donors and their lobbyists who are getting in the way of legislation that will help ordinary Americans.

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author

I agree, Carolyn. The heart of the problem is big money in politics (through campaign contributions as well as money backing public issue campaigns). The Freedom to Vote Act, now before the Senate, will help a bit, but I consider the scourge of big money the biggest challenge to the effective functioning of democracy we face.

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Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts was obviously dismayed at the decision of the five Republican loose cannons in the Texas abortion case regarding the structure of the law. The five have conferred on themselves entitlement to dictate whatever they want, regardless of the laws, the Constitution, and basic human rights, without ever being held to account.

Roberts, in contrast, sees the Supreme Court as a highly respected institution, on a higher plane than the lowly political branches. However, to his chagrin, the public now sees the Court as just another political branch. I want to say to him, "You brought this on yourself, with your disastrous Citizens United decision." (And, incidentally the equally disastrous 1976 Buckley v. Valeo decision) Money has funded the nominations of pro-plutocrat judges, and has kept Mitch McConnell in a position to push through their confirmations.

I agree about the issue ads. When the nominations of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh were pending, my local TV stations were filled with commercials funded by dark money groups instructing us to tell our Democratic senator to vote to confirm them. I have also recently seen TV commercials trying to scare us into believing that allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices will cause essential pharmaceuticals to not be sold in this country at all.

The Freedom to Vote act should be amended to contain strong campaign finance provisions, and also a provision shielding it from "judicial review." Alternatively, if it is passed without the non-judicial review provision, Biden should add a signing statement that he will continue to enforce it unless and until it is repealed by Congress. Otherwise, six unelected justices will stop the legislation in its tracks almost before the ink is dry on Biden's signature.

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Thanks for the reference to Buckley v. Valeo decision. Another learning point for me!

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Yes, Roberts brought this on with Citizens United. At some point between making that decision and now, he became concerned with his "legacy"... as far as many of us are concerned, he's just as much to blame as the "loose cannons"... his cannon doesn't fall far from the deadly missiles the five aim at the rest of us. Way too little and way too late.

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And I agree BUT who is doing anything about it? This ought to be where all elements of the Democratic Party can find a common cause but look at what the DNC did in Buffalo to the progressive nominee of the Democratic Party—- a write in campaign! against her! What is to be done here? Young people are very disheartened by all of this.

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Maybe I'm wrong, but aren't President Biden and Majority Leader Schumer also receiving money from these same donors? In all likelihood, the DNC is! The corporate donors hedge their bets! Not too many eggs go into one basket!

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All too true. There is a small group of Democrats and independents who refuse to accept big money from corporate interests and wealthy donors saying it is corrupt. The Democratic leadership resents the implication that they are corrupt and have given themselves unfair advantages to stop these constituent first upstarts from gaining too much power in "their" party.

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Thirty pieces of silver has appreciated considerably…

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Manchin is a Republican. After the 2022 election if the Republicans take over the Senate he will become an independent or switch parties. After years of the DNC destroying the Democratic Party by undermining progressives why are you surprised that the chickens have come home to roost?

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"DINO!"

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I am in no mood today to celebrate the stupidity of Joe Manchin. His flag of celebration does not show any Red, White or Blue in it. I think the public is pretty tired of having to 'SETTLE FOR' one person being able to hold back very important, life changing improvements for million's of people. My suggestion for the day is that our governing rules get updated to: Majority Rules!!!

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founding

Oh my goodness, you said exactly what I’ve been thinking, Linda. I am so sick of these idiots waving their egos around. If they have self-esteem problems they should keep them to themselves. Their pathologies shouldn’t become our problems.

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I will try again to comment on the subject matter. As previous subscribers have already commented on the USSC I will limit my comments to USG ethical standards. I was employed by the USG for 38 years and was subjected to a variety of ethical oversight - including security clearances, FBI checks, financial disclosure forms- all subject to a variety of oversight by management. I observed colleagues punished for as little as altering a gasoline slip on their travel voucher. In contrast I see the Congress has no such ethical standards and if they do they are not enforced.. Thus we have campaign fund violations, inside trading, revolving door employment, off shore accounts, etc,etc,etc. Aren't the members of Congress government employees too??

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As a retired federal worker, I too was always astounded by the double standard, with our Congress writing the rules for all of us that they themselves would not have to live by.

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Excellant observation. Our government is run by people with double standards. Congress gets to make all of the rules; One set for the public and another set for the Congressional players.

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If we think it's the donors then we have to name the donors. Interview their CEO's. A lot of donors are easily identified on Opensecrets.org. We can start here: https://www.opensecrets.org/members-of-congress/joe-manchin/summary?cid=N00032838&cycle=2022

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Time to lift the rocks they're hiding under!

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I very much wish that someone would write the saga of the McCain-Feingold Act. How did it come about? What was in it? What would it have accomplished? How would govt be different today? Was it McConnell who was the force behind destroying it? Was CITIZENS UNITED the final nail in its coffin? Here's John Paul Stevens dissent in CITIZENS case: "It is very difficult for a democracy to function when its constituents believe votes are being bought and sold."

They don't make'em like him anymore, altho Justice Sotomayor comes very close.

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I have been writing and calling Minchin's office regularly for about six months now (my mother grew up in Morgantown WV, although I live in the Northeast now), and will continue to do so with steadily more urgent wording as we go into the new year. I honestly think he is thinking his actions will win him Republican votes, but I sincerely doubt he's right. As many here have remarked, we are at a point now in the history of the country that requires real action, and his blocking of the vast majority who want that change will win him no favors with the historians.

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And did any of you watch Chris Wallace’s last program on FOX yesterday? Lindsay Graham on there talking straight to Manchin, full face directly into the camera, to hang in there & stay tough. What are Graham & Manchin up to? If not Manchin, who else was Graham talking to? It put chills done my spine. Cynthia

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since "money is speech" , every politician's speech or political ad should contain financial disclosure and contributors names and degree of contribution.

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We didn’t get to this place by accident, monied interests have been methodically buying up representation for decades and made worse with the Supreme Court ruling on “Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission in 2010. They put their pawns in place, including local, state and federal politicians. Their strategy succeeded as they now have a 6-3 majority on the Supreme Court. Whereas we have control of the White House, House and Senate, the numbers are too small to avoid handing power to the few who can and are stopping bills from being passed. We needed larger numbers in both chambers and we failed to deliver at the polls. Eliminating the filibuster would resolve this policy crisis, however I’m not holding my breath for Manchin and Sinema to provide the crucial votes needed to do so. If we lose seats in Congress in 2022 nothing will move forward and strides we already made will be reversed. Time for everyone to get involved to make certain that doesn’t happen.

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Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, we've been here before in our history where monied interests have bought our representatives. Seeing that you also read Letters from an American, my only hope is that we can turn the tide of history once again as we've done in the past. One of the reasons I'm here is to find the best ways to get and stay involved and do my part.

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We had record turnout and barely got a majority of seats in congress (Senate tie). They employ many tactics to keep turn out low, tactics to get us to vote for 3rd party or not at all, misinformation and culture wars that have us fighting each other instead of them and confused on the issues to where we vote against our own self-interest. They have us blaming government when government (democracy= power of the people) is the only power we have against minority rule or oligarchy. They rely on voter ignorance knowing we come out for presidential election but don't prioritize the midterms where we vote for congress (congress makes the laws that the president signs). They select their voters rather than voters selecting them, via gerrymandering. They suppress voters by making it harder, rather than easier, to vote. Hell, they are giving themselves the power to bypass the will of the voters in State houses all around the country as we speak. We can't deliver BY THEIR DESIGN! The real enemy is the corporations and billionaires who's money has too much control/influence/power. they buy politicians on both sides... Republicans, more blatantly. They don't need them all, just enough to keep progress stalled in congress so no legislation is passed that they don't like. The only reason we are talking about "build back better" is due to 'reconciliation' and they own at least 2 democrats that enable them to water the bill down and/or stall it until Rep. can get a majority in congress. Law, for them, is being enacted in the courts now that they have lied and cheated their way to a Rep. majority at the Supreme Court. The same democrats are hiding behind the filibuster in their effort to prevent legislation that their corporate/billionaire donors don't want passed= legislation that is counter to their voter suppression efforts, legislation that would counter the power of their money's influence over politics, any legislation that gives power to the people, in general.

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Don't confuse me with the facts..my mind is made up.!

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My first wife - a Republican - used that on me a lot!

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Thank you for again underscoring the way in which Joe Manchin represents a dire threat to this country and to the possibility of providing the kind of care and concern that are second nature to Western democracies. The U.S. fails on all fronts to care adequately for its citizens and residents. Manchin, along with Sinema and the Republicans, is destroying us.

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Thank you, Leonor, for your comment. You're spot on. Worse yet, being poor in America is treated as an individual, moral failing rather than a collective failure to adequately care for one another. We create a social program to care for older Americans, but refuse to cover dental care, then ask why people why they can't hold onto their teeth. It's cruel.

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Thank you, Professor Reich. Additionally, Medicare is limited, requiring supplementation through a private insurance plan, and we all know how much private insurance executives "care about" their insured parties health.

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This latest drama is driven by the near disaster of the 2020 elections, which somehow was pulled back from the cliff to become a near miracle on razor's edge in favor of progressives.

James Carville has said that Democrats are in deep trouble when they can barely beat the worst President in US history. Apt.

Joe Manchin and senators and representatives with identifiably similar creeds who run as Democrats and caucus with the Democrats are the reason we can have any discussion and make any progress at all, and the reason we have already passed hugely significant Rescue and Infrastructure bills in this first Biden year, not yet a year, not yet even 11 months from January 20.

Will Rogers said, as you probably know, that he was not a member of an organized political party, he was a Democrat. That was before FDR.

I am a liberal progressive. I register Democratic Party to vote for liberal progressives. If there was a real progressive running in a different party against a regressive Democrat, they would be an easy choice. But in our current metastisizing insanity, nothing of the sort will happen.

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We have $134 Trillion of net household / personal wealth. Trillions. Net. We have the money. This is according to the 'Z.1' report of the US Federal Reserve, but it is never cited in discussions or debates about 'what can we afford?'

We need to change that, and soon, and slam the table with our wealth - that is understandable by regular voters, somehow hidden in plain sight. $134 Trillions should be obvious -- let's talk about that! -- b.rad

( Yes, 7 million votes was a slam dunk, and 7 million is not a counting error. )

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Clarifying point ( I hope): Rereading my comment, it seemed like I might have been supporting Mansion -- I mean, Manchin -- and his positions. Not in the slightest. So far as I can glean from reporting, there is no modification of the Build Back Better bill attributed to him, or Sinema, or the others who must have chopped it, that I support.

The report is that it shrank from $6 to $5 to $3.5 to less than $2 Trillion . . . I support none of that, whoever did it. We have the money!

In particular, as above, the claim that 'we can't afford [ fill in blank ]' is not only just not true, it is absurd at this level ( $3 - 5 Trillion overall, over 10 years )

Our net personal household 'mansion' wealth has grown about $74 Trillion in the past 10 years, while debt has grown about $12 Trillion. See an opportunity there?

$74 Trillion in increased wealth -- vs -- $12 Trillion in increased debt

US Treasury ( .gov ) <https://fiscaldata.treasury.gov/datasets/debt-to-the-penny/debt-to-the-penny> ( scroll down, click 'Chart' just under one 'Debt to the Penny' heading )

Our Professor has highlighted the 'defense' military budget, especially in light of exiting Iraq and Afghanistan. So, what did they do when our east coast pipeline was shut down?

Repurposing say $250 Billion per year out of $750 Billion to domestic growth, and domestic security, in civilian bureaus and organizations, *not* the military, seems like one interpretation of Prof Reich's point. Maybe just an echo, here it is anyway . . . -- b.rad

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Well reported, Robert.

Politicians have always been beholden to wealthy supporters, but now that corporations are people and money is speech, ignoring what is in the best interest of actual human voters is that much easier for politicians who are not committed to public service that truly serves the people.

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