Intelligencer – On Sunday, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia offered the American public a scapegoat in the shape of a state. He could not vote for the Build Back Better Act, he said, because of the people he represents. “If I can’t go home and explain it to the people of West Virginia, I can’t vote for it. And I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I just can’t,” he told Bret Baier on Fox News Sunday, a sentiment he repeated in a statement released later by his office. His colleagues, he added, “are determined to dramatically reshape our society in a way that leaves our country even more vulnerable to the threats we face.” In Manchin’s threat assessment, the national debt takes precedence over the needs of his own voters. Read the full article.
Manchin represents one of the poorest states in the union. Immiserated by centuries of extractive capitalism, the people of West Virginia have been failed for nearly as long by members of both political parties. By opposing Build Back Better, Manchin joins an established tradition. Though the Democratic senator’s position is complicated by the political realities of his conservative state, he’s much too hasty to declare defeat. The truth is he’s bound to his own right-wing ideology and a collection of business interests.
The Washington Post reported Monday that Manchin proposed his own deal to the Biden White House last week. Though that deal included funding for ten years of universal pre-K in addition to reduced spending on climate-change provisions important to Democrats, it excluded an extension of the enhanced child tax credit that is said to have lifted thousands out of poverty in his home state. There may yet be ground for Biden and Manchin to negotiate — even on the subject of child tax credits — but Manchin’s expressed commitment to heavy means-testing could leave many needy families in the cold.
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