There are two competing narratives about why President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda died.
On the Left, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin is cast as a dishonest villain who promised he would vote for Build Back Better, as released by the White House on Oct. 28, and then betrayed his promise.
For everyone else, it is clear Manchin has been entirely consistent in saying he would not support a Build Back Better bill filled with budget gimmicks that funded a slew of new programs but only for a few years. He said this before the White House released its framework on Oct. 28., he said it again just days after, and he said it throughout November and December. He never wavered. Never changed.
But this reality is not accepted on the Left. They only voted for Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill because Biden promised them Manchin promised he would vote for their version of Build Back Better.
Now that Manchin has publicly said no, Biden’s credibility with the base of his party is on the line. Hence this question from a reporter at yesterday’s press conference: "You talked about the importance of keeping your word of trust. Do you believe Sen. Manchin kept his word to you? And how do you rebuild trust with progressives in your party to advance your legislation now?"
To which Biden responded: “Joe went on TV today, and I don't know if it was on TV, but I am told he was speaking to the liberal caucus in the House and said, 'Joe Biden didn’t mislead you, I mislead you.'"
As the saying goes, “Huge if true!” It would be a big admission of dishonesty and fault for Manchin to have told the Left he misled them. Problem is, it appears Biden completely made the quote up.
Pressed by reporters to back up Biden’s statements, a White House spokesman was forced to admit, “The president wanted to clarify that Sen. Manchin did not characterize himself as having been ‘misleading.’”
So, yeah, Biden blatantly just made up a quote in which Manchin admitted he misled people. Perhaps this is why the vast majority — 66% of the country, according to the latest poll — do not trust Joe Biden.