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U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) speaks at a news conference on April 06, 2022 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

'Gleefully Committing Arson': Gottheimer Gang May Derail Manchin Deal

"We must ask ourselves why Rep. Gottheimer is working so hard to sabotage the party when he knows a climate and jobs bill would not only help communities across the country, but would help Democrats win seats this cycle."

Jessica Corbett

Progressive campaigners on Wednesday responded with frustration to reporting that Congressman Josh Gottheimer may rally right-wing House Democrats to thwart a potential reconciliation package party leaders are working out with Sen. Joe Manchin.

"Gottheimer is just being a saboteur, totally captured by his financial sector donors."

As Indivisible co-executive director Leah Greenberg put it: "Gottheimer really is gleefully committing arson all on his own right now."

Axios reports that Gottheimer (D-N.J.) "is gauging support among House centrists for a counteroffer to the emerging Senate reconciliation package, with one big clause: No new taxes."

Specifically, the outlet details that his counteroffer envisions $520 billion in new spending related to health and climate, and $627 billion generated from improved Internal Revenue Service enforcement and drug pricing reform.

"Gottheimer's discussions target a small group that includes Reps. Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-Ga.), Ed Case (D-Hawaii), Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.), Susie Lee (D-Nev.) Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), and Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.)," according to Axios.

While Manchin (D-W.Va.) played a key role in killing the Build Back Better bill that House Democrats passed last year, that came after Gottheimer spearheaded a successful effort to decouple the package from bipartisan infrastructure legislation that was ultimately signed by President Joe Biden.

Greenberg noted that now, everyone from Manchin to Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) "is ready to cut a deal on reconciliation, and understands the importance of raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations while lowering healthcare and energy costs for families."

"Gottheimer is just being a saboteur, totally captured by his financial sector donors, attempting to stop progress by throwing a tantrum," she continued. "He takes his cues from wealthy Wall Streeters who happen to have one of their multiple mansions in his New Jersey district. That's why it makes sense for him to throw sand in the gears of any bill that might make those mansion owners pay their fair share of taxes."

The Indivisible leader also argued that "Gottheimer is insulated from the actual political consequences of Democrats having no big legislative wins to run on in November" because of his wealthy donors, and called out reporters who have treated him "like a vulnerable frontline Democrat who's tapped into the working man's needs" while he "trashes activists and working-class communities who have come together to fight for Biden's economic agenda."

Sunrise Movement executive director Varshini Prakash similarly suggested that Gottheimer and any other right-wing Democrats again obstructing a reconcilation package focused on climate, prescription drug prices, and taxes could endanger their party's candidates across the country come November.

"To be clear, corporate 'centrists' are ruining the party and threatening Democratic seats in 2022," she said. "Sunrise and progressives have been fighting to pass Biden's agenda, while corporate 'centrists' are actively tanking it. We must ask ourselves why Rep. Gottheimer is working so hard to sabotage the party when he knows a climate and jobs bill would not only help communities across the country, but would help Democrats win seats this cycle."

Prakash pointed out that "Democrats are heading into November with a president with notably low approval ratings, a Congress that has not passed Build Back Better, and we are losing young and working people. If Democrats don't take action immediately, Republicans will win."

"In October 2021, 12 young volunteers with Sunrise were arrested for protesting Rep. Josh Gottheimer while demanding that he stop obstructing Build Back Better from passing," she recalled. "At the time, dozens of young people asked Rep. Gottheimer, 'Which side are you on?' We are still demanding answers."

Journalist David Roberts tweeted Wednesday that "Gottheimer being a titanic asshole is a good excuse to remind ourselves of the basic shape of Biden's presidency so far, namely: From the second he entered office, progressives have worked to support his agenda and 'moderates' have fucked him over."

Axios' revelations were followed by The Washington Post reporting Wednesday that Biden is considering breaking key climate pledges to win Manchin's support on a reconciliation package.

White House spokesperson Andrew Bates told the Post that "we do not negotiate in public but are dealing with lawmakers in good faith to pass legislation that will cut costs like prescription drugs and energy, lower the deficit by having the wealthy pay their fair share, and fight inflation for the long haul."

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