Democrats have expressed frustration with Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) following his latest move on the “Build Back Better” bill.
Manchin has requested that his colleagues choose one 10-year program to focus on and then use the other half of revenues raised from tax reform and prescription drug reform to actively reducing the national deficit and fighting inflation.
He has suggested limiting social spending to climate legislation, saying the country has to “get its fiscal house in order” before initiating new spending plans, arguing that such plans only add to the deficit.
These suggestions clearly frustrated Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Ma.), who suggested that Manchin’s priorities are out of order.
“If he wants to focus on an economic package, then he needs to remember child care is an economic issue,” she said. “We have many, many, many parents at home today because they cannot get child care.
“We have people who can’t work in the child care industry because they don’t make a living wage. If we want to have an economy that’s firing on all cylinders, we want people to be able to go back to work,” she added. “Let me point out, that affects inflation. When you don’t have enough workers, then prices go up.”
Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who chairs the Senate Health Committee, like Warren, stressed that child care is very much an economic issue.
“What I feel very strongly is that Congress needs to address some of the costs that families are feeling today. Child care is a huge part of that and it is a barrier for people to be able to go back to work so they can support their families in this challenging time,” she said.
Manchin has been widely criticized for delaying attempts by House and Senate Democrats to codify much of their economic and social policy agenda via a major spending bill.
The plan is part of efforts from the Democrats to respond to the climate crisis, invest in infrastructure and expand education, healthcare and childcare.
It would constitute the largest broadening of the social safety net in years.
And though Manchin has complained about inflation, the Build Back Better (BBB) spending legislation has, according to the White House and Congressional Democrats, would ease inflation.
“As I have said repeatedly, when [BBB] is passed, it will be fully paid for and reduce—reduce—inflationary pressures. … This will be just what the American people need, and it will not be—will not be—inflationary,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said last week.
Manchin later hit back at Democrats, saying they had miscalculated in their efforts to court his vote on the legislation, which died in the Senate once he withdrew himself from negotiations.
“They figured surely to God we can move one person. We surely can badger and beat one person up. Surely we can get enough protestors to make that person uncomfortable enough that they’ll just say, ‘OK I’ll vote for anything,’” he said during a radio interview with West Virginia MetroNews’ Hoppy Kercheval.
“Well, guess what? I’m from West Virginia. I’m not from where they’re from and they can just beat the living crap out of people and think they’ll be submissive, period,” Manchin added.
Alan is a writer, editor, and news junkie based in New York.