Wait, Schumer *never* told Biden about Joe Manchin’s red lines on Build Back Better?

Remember this bombshell revelation from the end of September?

Progressives had spent months berating Manchin for supposedly being unwilling to name his terms on the BBB bill. They assumed he was giving them the runaround, deliberately remaining vague on what programs he’d accept and how much he’d be willing to spend because secretly he wanted the endeavor to fail. Joe Manchin wouldn’t name his price because he had no price! He was negotiating in bad faith, sabotaging the progressive effort to get something passed.

Except he wasn’t, and he had proof. As far back as late July, he had drafted the term sheet above, making it very clear where he stood on a deal. And for reasons that escape me, Chuck Schumer agreed to sign that document to affirm that he had seen it. (The scrawl beneath Schumer’s signature allegedly reads, “I will try to dissuade Joe on many of these.”)

For reasons that also escape me, Schumer apparently neglected to tell Pelosi about the document for the entirety of August and September. Lefties wasted two months pushing a package which the Senate majority leader already had good reason to know Manchin would never agree to. And Schumer just stood aside and let them do it.

Today CNN builds out that episode with another astonishing detail. Not only did Schumer never tell Pelosi, he … never told the president either:

The Senate majority leader, though, didn’t tell House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about the document, who later made clear that she felt blindsided. As has never been previously disclosed, Schumer also didn’t tell President Joe Biden or top White House aides. They didn’t find out until after months of work and drama trying to get a $3.5 trillion bill written even though Manchin told Schumer his limit was $1.5 trillion.

Looking back, many involved in the negotiations wonder if that was one of the fatal flaws that now leaves them without the President’s signature legislation and headed into midterms with a narrative of dysfunction — and to top it off, Manchin on Tuesday declared that the bill is “dead.”…

The White House and Pelosi … [were left] chasing a chimera through the summer and into the fall, as Biden’s poll numbers dropped and the Virginia governor’s race slipped away. Yet had Schumer embraced Manchin’s proposal in July, it would have almost certainly caused a progressive revolt in the House and could have scuttled the effort.

That last part is Schumer’s best argument for having kept the document a secret. If lefties were at $3.5 trillion and Manchin was unwilling to go north of $1.5 trillion, the left might have freaked out and walked away in protest if they knew where he stood. Which would have left Democrats, uh … exactly where they are now, with no bill.

Even if Schumer thought it was important to keep Manchin’s offer quiet for fear of spooking progressives, obviously he should have looped in Biden and Pelosi at least. Then all three of them could have taken up the hard work of trying to convince lefties in the House to accept Manchin’s terms. That process may have ended up taking months but that sure beats hiding the offer and then blindsiding the entire Democratic establishment with it at the end of September.

As things stand now, the election is nine months away and progressives are utterly desperate to get something passed before they’re routed at the polls this fall. And so their negotiating “strategy” has arrived at the place where it was always destined to arrive, begging Joe Manchin to write any bill he wants and all but promising to pass it.

Democrats are increasingly willing to accept whatever child-care, healthcare and climate package that Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) would support as they return to Washington this week, hoping to salvage elements of the party’s economic agenda after months of failed negotiations…

Rep. Ro Khanna (D., Calif.), a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said many Democrats would likely accept whatever agreement they can reach with Mr. Manchin, even if they are disappointed.

“What are you going to do, you put a bill on the floor that the president supports and the speaker supports and takes historic steps on climate and gives free pre-K to every three- and four-year-old in America and a progressive is going to say ‘No I’m going to vote against it?’” he said. “How am I going to explain that?”

“Manchin should have the pen, we should respect that whatever he wants to do will be reasonable and ultimately be historic,” he added.

That’s a sensible, pragmatic approach to the reality of Democratic margins in Congress, Ro. But it would have been far more sensible a year ago.

Republicans should give thanks daily that they have an opposition leader as feckless and politically exposed as Schumer. He’s caught between the moderates in his caucus on the one hand…

…and progressives on the other, particularly well-known progressives from his home state who might just decide to primary him if he doesn’t jump when they tell him to:

Another amazing quote from the CNN piece: “Schumer wouldn’t say if he would stay neutral or support Manchin and Sinema if they face primary challengers in the next cycle.” This is a guy overseeing a 50/50 Senate, whose entire agenda depends on Manchinema’s support, and who wouldn’t be majority leader without them. And yet he won’t show them a little support when asked in the name of earning their goodwill because he’s too afraid of crossing AOC. The GOP prayed Voltaire’s prayer, “Lord, make my enemies ridiculous,” and the lord answered and gave them Chuck.

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