It looks like Manchin is ready to do just that. As a veteran of countless defining moments on Capitol Hill and the White House, I know Biden and the Democrats have several paths to follow.
Maybe Manchin is tactical. There may still be a version of BBB that it can support. If so, his support will qualify the bill as moderate – with a capital M. This is not the worst thing for an election year in which moderate voters in electoral districts will decide the outcome.
If, on the contrary, Manchin unplugged Build Back Better, Biden still has several paths to success:
Not even a Republican is in favor of more affordable housing or better nutrition for children. Biden would have to tell his fellow Americans that he wouldn’t even need Joe Manchin if he could convince a few Republicans to stand up for work, for tax cuts for the middle class, for green jobs.
I think the reason Biden and his fellow Democrats are in this position is because Trumpist Republicans seem to stay awake at night, unable to sleep lest someone somewhere is living the American dream.
Needless to say, none of these options are appealing. Everyone has a serious risk of failure. But with the global warming and the cooling of the political outlook of his party; with the resurgence of COVID and the overhaul of Trump; with prices going up and polls going down, Biden’s only option is to get caught trying.