Dem Senator Manchin Hits The Brakes

OPINION:  This article contains commentary which may reflect the author’s opinion

After Biden’s State of the Union speech in March, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin said he was not going to save the Build Back Better bill. Had the massive spending bill passed, inflation today would be much worse.

Reporters asked the Democrat senator what he thought about Biden’s references to Build Back Better as well as whether he thought it was a wise idea.

Regarding Democrats’ love of spending taxpayer money he said “They just can’t help themselves.”

As well, he didn’t trust the president’s claim that his agenda would decrease the deficit.

“I’ve never found out that you can lower costs by spending more,” he remarked.

Following the release of a new report showing that inflation hit 9.1 percent in June, Manchin remained steadfast in his position against a budget reconciliation bill being negotiated with Schumer. After learning of the massive increase in inflation Manchin said the bill “needs to be scrubbed much better.”

In an interview Wednesday, Manchin said he is not sure whether he can agree to anything more than the prescription drug reform portion of the bill, which has already been sent to the Senate parliamentarian’s office and has the support of all 50 Democratic senators.

“We know what we can pass is basically the drug pricing, OK, on Medicare,” he said to reporters. “Is there any more we can do? I don’t know, but I am very, very cautious.”

“And I’m going to make sure that I have every input on scrubbing everything humanly possible that could be considered inflammatory,” he added.

He went on, saying that “deficit reduction is going to be 50 percent” through prescription drug savings and tax reforms, such as a 3.8 percent tax on wealthy individuals and couples whose earnings exceed $400,000 or $500,000 from pass-through businesses.

As a result of the latest inflation report, he explained, negotiators are going to need to proceed with greater caution when putting together the budget bill due to the 9.1 percent increase in prices over a year ago.

“Basically, take your time and make sure we do it and do it right. We can’t afford mistakes in the highest inflation we’ve seen in the last 40 years,” he warned.

Manchin has argued against a goal set by other Democrats to pass the bill before the August recess, saying it must be passed by Sept. 30.

The senator, however, did not rule out extending subsidies for Medicare Advantage plans, explaining that whether or not he would support such an extension will depend on how it is drafted and funded.

“It depends on if we can look at things and find a pathway forward that is not inflammatory,” he explained.

To avoid further spurring an overheated economy, the West Virginia senator also emphasized that he prefers modest spending in the bill.

“Anything that can be inflationary right now with 9.1 percent should be a red herring because we cannot inflame this inflationary position we have right now with the hardship it has on everybody in the country, especially in my state,” he stated.

According to The Hill, “Manchin said there’s been no talk of lifting the cap on the state and local tax deduction (SALT), something that two Democrats from the Northeast, Reps. Josh Gottheimer (N.J) and Thomas Suozzi (N.Y.), are demanding.”

“SALT’s not been in the talks at all,” he declared.

Senate Democrats are getting increasingly sceptical about getting Manchin to agree to any reconciliation package broader than the prescription drug price reforms they mostly agreed to last year.

“Well, I’m glad to see he included prescription drugs,” noted Senate Democratic Whip Durbin (Ill.). “I’ve always been skeptical of reconciliation so we’ll see.”

Democrat Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said Democrats will have to accept whatever support Manchin will provide.

“There’s so much we need to do but we do as we can get 50 votes for, and I will celebrate what we can get done and work harder than ever for the parts that are still pretty important,” she stated.

If the budget reconciliation package is fully funded, as Democrats have promised, this won’t increase inflation, Warren said.

“It’s important to understand which changes aggravate inflation and which ones ease inflation,” she asserted. “When spending is to get more workers into the workforce, for example, like universal childcare and it’s fully paid for by taxes on the rich, the consequences of that are not inflationary, they’re deflationary.”

According to her, if all climate provisions are completely funded, “then there’s no inflationary impact.”

As Biden and Democrats in power have brought the country to the brink with their attempt to implement the Green New Deal, the Associated Press explained the effects, saying “Long lines are back at food banks around the U.S. as working Americans overwhelmed by inflation turn to handouts to help feed their families.”

With gas prices soaring along with grocery costs, many people are seeking charitable food for the first time, and more are arriving on foot.

Inflation in the U.S. is at a 40-year high and gas prices have been surging since April 2020, with the average cost nationwide briefly hitting $5 a gallon in June. Rapidly rising rents and an end to federal COVID-19 relief have also taken a financial toll.

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