It’s bad enough that Sen. Joe Manchin went on Fox News on Sunday and announced he was committed to tanking President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda. But a report from HuffPost on part of his private reasoning makes it even worse.
Even as he postures about the cost of the bill in public—an issue that didn’t seem to bother him when voting for a one-year, $768 billion defense spending bill—Manchin “has told several of his fellow Democrats that he thought parents would waste monthly child tax credit payments on drugs instead of providing for their children, according to two sources familiar with the senator’s comments,” Tara Golshan and Arthur Delaney report.
Here’s a man who drives a Maserati costing three times the median annual income in his state, or almost twice the median household income, and he says he’s worried that low-income and middle-class families will look at $250 or $300 a month for their kids and think, “I’m going to buy drugs with that.” Does he think that instead they should all be raking in $500,000 a year from a coal brokerage company, like he does?
What people are actually spending that child tax credit money on: emergency savings. Routine expenses. Essential items for children. More or better food. A college fund for the kids. This is a program that almost immediately slashed child poverty, that has gone to the vast majority of kids in the U.S.
People are working hard to support their families, be it at McDonald’s or in an Amazon warehouse or delivery truck or in a hospital or nursing home. And thanks, again, to people like Manchin, that work often does not pay enough to pay the bills and put enough nutritious food on the table, let alone to send the kids to summer camp or drive to the beach for a long weekend once a year. This one simple program has changed that for millions of families—a great many of them families with one or more full-time jobs that have been getting by, albeit just barely and with no room to spare.
Fewer than one in 10 kids in Manchin’s home state of West Virginia aren’t eligible for the child tax credit, and 50,000 children in the state are likely to experience poverty (again) when the monthly checks lapse, thanks to Manchin. It’s not like he’s from a rich state where he can figure that few of his own constituents will be affected—he’s doing direct harm to a huge number of kids in his own state.
But no, rich guy Manchin hates poor people so much he wants their children to suffer. And this is a Democrat. Republicans never even considered supporting this program.
The White House responded to Manchin’s negotiation-by-Fox-News statement with an uncharacteristically sharp statement.
“Senator Manchin's comments this morning on FOX are at odds with his discussions this week with the President, with White House staff, and with his own public utterances. Weeks ago, Senator Manchin committed to the President, at his home in Wilmington, to support the Build Back Better framework that the President then subsequently announced. Senator Manchin pledged repeatedly to negotiate on finalizing that framework 'in good faith.'
On Tuesday of this week, Senator Manchin came to the White House and submitted—to the President, in person, directly—a written outline for a Build Back Better bill that was the same size and scope as the President's framework, and covered many of the same priorities.
If his comments on FOX and written statement indicate an end to that effort, they represent a sudden and inexplicable reversal in his position, a breach of his commitments to the President and the Senator's colleagues in the House and Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced a plan for a Senate vote on Build Back Better in 2022, despite Manchin’s about-face. Senators will “make their position known on the Senate floor, not just on television,” Schumer said.
In response to Manchin’s sudden public opposition to passing Build Back Better, Goldman Sachs lowered its economic growth forecast. In case you needed something to really drive home the point that Manchin’s move isn’t good for anyone.