Joe Manchin was the biggest loser in politics in 2022

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.
FILE – Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., speaks during a news conference on Sept. 20, 2022, at the Capitol in Washington. In 2024 Manchin will be up for reelection. (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib, File) Mariam Zuhaib/AP

Joe Manchin was the biggest loser in politics in 2022

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There were plenty of political losers in 2022, but there was perhaps no bigger one than Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV).

Manchin’s permitting reform bill has crashed and burned, marking the third time he tried and failed to pass the bill. His most recent attempt was to add it as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, which required 60 votes to approve. It only got 47.

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Manchin had made a deal with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to pass his permitting bill if Manchin would only vote in favor of the Inflation Reduction Act, the climate change bill that Democrats pretended would help inflation. It was clear even then that the law would, at best, make inflation slightly worse, but Manchin signed on anyway.

But the Inflation Reduction Act passed in August thanks to Manchin, but his own permitting bill has not. So Manchin made a deal where he would give up the only leverage he had to convince Democrats to support his bill in exchange for a promise that they would get back to his bill later. Then Democrats voted it down.

Not exactly a political masterclass from the West Virginia senator.

On top of this, although Manchin is celebrating no longer being the deciding vote in the Senate thanks to the Democratic Party’s new 51-49 majority, what it really means is that he has lost even more leverage. Now it is newly independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), who is still effectively a Democrat, that gets to be the deciding vote. Whatever power Manchin had in the 50-50 Senate has faded substantially.

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For his troubles, Manchin’s approval rating in West Virginia has also tanked. After starting the year with a 60% approval rating, Manchin has dropped to 42% among registered voters. He now has a 51% disapproval rating in his home state, the third highest of any senator, with 53% of Republicans, 52% of independents, and 45% of Democrats all disapproving of his performance.

Whatever chance Manchin had of defying political gravity in a 2024 reelection campaign is likely gone now. Manchin torched his image as a centrist Democrat in a red state by signing onto a climate change bill that made inflation worse in exchange for nothing more than a verbal promise that his party would help push his own bill across the finish line. It was a completely foreseeable failure, and yet Manchin blundered his way out of influence — and in the end, probably out of office.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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