President Joe Biden's Build Back Better legislation would make a profound difference in the lives of millions, from dental care for all Medicare recipients to monthly child tax credit payments to young families, safe housing, environmental cleanup, and a path to citizenship for immigrant families. It would make a particularly profound difference for people and families of color. Most of all, it would help children of color.
"Children of color, who are more likely to experience economic insecurity and lower-quality schooling, would especially benefit from many of these investments," the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities finds. It would "Cut child poverty, narrow long-standing racial disparities in child poverty rates, and help more children reach their full potential," they find. The Child Tax Credit expansion from the American Rescue plan alone—if it was the only thing included—would reduce child poverty by more than 40%, "with the sharpest reductions in the poverty rates for Black and Latino children."
The plan would ensure that there's enough food and safe housing for families, and "would reduce homelessness and other hardship for people who struggle most to afford a home, with more than two-thirds (71 percent) of those assisted being people of color." And it would expand health cover for more than 2 million people living below the poverty line, 60% of whom are people of color. All this and more would dramatically advance racial equity among Americans. One really wonders especially whether Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, with nearly 19% of her state’s population being Hispanic and 12% of it being Black, is thinking about all of this. Probably not, if her refusal to even talk to constituents is any indication.
So what about West Virginia's Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin? What in here does he want to see cut? Who knows, because he's not saying either, as Sen. Bernie Sanders—who is completely out of patience—pointed out in a press conference Wednesday.
It's time, Sanders said, for Manchin to say "with specificity what he wants and what he doesn't want" in the bill. Same with Sinema. "Two people," Sander said, "do not have the right to sabotage what 48 want." And it's about time someone said it!
Now it's time for every reporter on Capitol Hill to start asking Manchema what exactly it is they do and don't want. And to not let Manchin get away with the kind of bullshit he's been pulling this week. Tuesday, Manchin told reporters he wasn't ruling out a $1.9 to $2.2 trillion overall reconciliation package. But on Wednesday, this:
He's not even trying to seem like he's got any principled reason for anything he's doing. Which is why Sen. Mitch McConnell is making such good use of him and Sinema to sabotage President Biden's agenda. Granted, the Senate hasn't been the "greatest deliberative body" in the world for decades now, but these two are really distinguishing themselves.
Manchin and Sinema are standing out as two of the most duplicitous, least serious Democrats since Joe Lieberman was drummed out by the universal hatred of his constituents—a fate these two richly deserve.