Tennessee Star National Political Editor Neil McCabe Predicts the Fate of the Build Back Better Bill


Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed The Tennessee Star’s National Political Editor Neil McCabe to the newsmaker line to weigh in on the Build Back Better bill as Republicans continue to go along to get along.

Henry: On the line with us right now, one of the best in the business for my money. Political editor and Washington correspondent Neil McCabe. Neil, everybody knows you in this audience, so let’s launch right into this. I want to give you as much time as possible.

McCabe: Sure.

Henry: The Build Back Better bill, where are we sitting with this? What’s going to happen with this?

McCabe: The family has been called in. They’ve been told that the bill just needs some rest. And as soon as the family leaves, the nurses are going to put the bill on a morphine drip. And in the morning, they will tell the family it died in its sleep.

Henry: All right.

McCabe: This bill is finished.

Carmichael: That is news.

Henry: I was a little bit taken aback when you said that. (Carmichael chuckles)

Carmichael: So you think the bill titled the Build Back Better bill, you don’t think it will come to the floor of the Senate for a vote?

McCabe: No.

Carmichael: Wow. That’s very good.

McCabe: The problem is that they put everything in one basket and this as a basket bill is not going to get through because too many things have been picked out of it. And Manchin, God love him, something happened to Manchin where he just decided that this thing isn’t going to fly.

And maybe it’s because he recognizes that all the people behind this bill, all the people who are going to make billions of dollars off this bill are the same people who are trying to put the coal industry in West Virginia out of business.

Maybe he doesn’t like the way he’s been treated because he told Charles Schumer what his number was in July. And then Schumer basically kept that a secret from everyone and allowed everyone to beat up Manchin for another three months before Schumer said, well, yes, he did tell me that his number was $1.2 trillion And I should have listened to him then.

Also, House Democrats recognize that they will be returning to private life. And now Senate Democrats are seeing the same thing. We’re also seeing Democratic governors have their polls crater.

And so the only hope for this bill and no one’s going to listen to me, is to break it up and to take it in small pieces and just to slowly build it back better piece by piece. (Henry chuckles) But as a single bill, they’re just running out of time. I’ve said it before. The most important thing in Washington is not politics or policies, it’s the calendar.

Henry: Well, Neil, let me just for the sake of clarity, for the audience, and even for myself, we have the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which is terrible terminology. That’s the bill that a lot of Republicans in the House and Senate voted for. That is not what we’re talking about now. Is that correct?

McCabe: Yes.

Henry: What we’re talking about now is that $3, $4, $5 trillion, a massive, comprehensive boondoggle of a spending package. Is that correct?

McCabe: Right. The human infrastructure bill,

Henry: The human infrastructure bill.

McCabe: Yeah. The so-called infrastructure bill, which was basically written by Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio. And they basically told Portman, whatever you write, we’ll just take that language and we’ll get it through.

And to the credit of Senate Republicans, it wasn’t the $1.2 trillion that was advertised because it used a lot of unused funds from other things. So there’s probably about $600 billion in new spending. And that was a huge pork bill.

And so okay, that went through. And there were bad things in there, and there were taxes in there. But it went through. The Build Back. Better is the human infrastructure bill and it’s got all sorts of crazy immigration stuff and new taxes.

Henry: I was going to say part of that Build Back Better bill and part of the problem people have with it is again that they can’t legislate properly. Democrats can’t figure a way to actually pass legislation through any means of getting 60 votes in the Senate.

So they’re going to cram it through that reconciliation process. But I want to know about something else here because Democrats, we get them. I understand the animal that is the Democrat. That at least makes sense to me. What doesn’t make sense to me is this vaccine database bill that was just passed that allegedly had 80 Republicans voting for it.

Now my information may be off, and you may not know what I’m talking about, but what is that bill out there that provided, I think, $400 million worth of funding to create a federal database for vaccine spenders? And I think even in Tennessee, our own Congressman Kustoff and Fleischmann voted for it. Help me make sense of what’s going on here.

McCabe: Well, I think that the pharmaceutical companies are vested in normalizing vaccines. And these aren’t vaccines like your dad’s vaccine. This is exposing your system to a little bit of the disease so that the body can identify it and develop an immune system to battle it.

These new vaccines are literally like gene therapy. They actually change DNA and stuff. And so a lot of people are concerned about it. But the pharmaceutical companies want to normalize it and they don’t see this as a scandal.

I think what happened is the House Republican leadership was asleep at the switch and they didn’t Whip the vote. There are some votes that they just say, hey, whatever happens, happens. And what you find is in this bubble of Capitol Hill. Republicans want to be liked.

They want to get along. John Thune, who’s the Whip in the Senate for the Republicans has literally said over and over again different bills, bills that he votes against, we want to show the Democrats that we can get along with them, that we can get things done.

We’re not trying to be obstructionist and Thune will basically give people a path and let them vote for bills without punishing them. He’ll vote against them. The only reason he votes against them is that he’s up in 2022. But the Republicans want to get along with everybody, Mike Lee said to me once he said, everyone, talks about we want to go back to a time when Republicans and Democrats worked together.

Senator Lee said the problem in Washington is always when Republicans and Democrats work together, the taxes go up. (Henry chuckles) It’s when they work together, that spending gets out of control. That’s when they write all the bad laws.

Henry: It’s like a gridlock is almost part of the design you would hope.

Carmichael: Neil, will the bill that Grant is referring to that just passed the House, die in the Senate?

McCabe: I think now it will because that’s subject to a filibuster. And I think that the reaction really spooked people.

Henry: Maybe that’s part of the reason, too, is that House members can maybe use that as an opportunity to do some sense of grandstanding. Look, I don’t know why a Fleischmann or a Kustoff would use that as an opportunity to grandstand on a bill they knew may not pass through the Senate.

But I want to make sure we get one more question here before we got to let you go here. And that pertains to something you said a second ago about 2022 coming up. Okay.

I have thought that when Democrats lost the gubernatorial race in Virginia when Youngkin stepped in there, that might send a signal across the bows that you should probably calm down in some of the progressive ideology, some of the normal run of the mill Democrat stuff you would expect.

But some of the really strong stance pushing stuff, even the clip we heard from VP Harris this morning of what’s in that Build Back Better plan. I thought they would pull back on some of that, anticipating an onslaught in the midterms. Here’s the question Neil. What are the midterms look like going forward? What do you expect in House and Senate?

McCabe: I think that the Republicans pick up 40, probably 50 or 60 seats.

Henry: Wow!

McCabe: I think that the Senate pickup might be five or six. And there’s a bunch of governorships that are in play. I think that there’s no doubt that the Democrats will lose the House and the Senate in 2022.

And so Republicans, when they’re in this situation, immediately run to the left and try to make friends with everybody to stop the wave that they can stay in office and they can keep their office, they can keep their car, they can keep their staff, and they can keep their status.

Democrats are different animals. Democrats say, wait, we’re going to lose everything in a year. Let’s try to pass as much crazy stuff as we can. And this is what I call the smash and grab.

Henry: Yeah, that’s exactly what it is. And I think this is what you’re seeing is that strategy to throw as much as you can against the wall and just hope and pray that something sticks.

And more importantly, see if you can do it in the 11th hour of the night so that no one is watching. Neil McCabe, political correspondent in Washington up there, we appreciate your time.

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
















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