Manchin Takes Aim at Build Back Better, but His Real Focus is on West Virginia

Yves here. This post performs the useful service of trying to explain Manchin’s position on Build Back Better (which is such an awful name that it suggests Team Dem never had its heart in it). The author also believes a deal can be had. But that may ignore whether House progressives will swallow further concessions to Manchin.

By Samuel Workman, Professor of Political Science, West Virginia University. Originally published at The Conversation

Joe Manchin isn’t averse to taking a shotgun to policy he dislikes.

In 2018, the senator starred in a political ad in which he explains how a lawsuit to repeal the Affordable Care Act – something his opponent, state attorney general Patrick Morrisey, was at the time trying to do – would strip health care from numerous West Virginians. Manchin then takes out a shotgun and unloads on the Morrissey lawsuit.

The ad, titled “Dead Wrong,” simultaneously displays Manchin’s support for a popular program while signaling a pro-gun stance.

It is also instructive for understanding the political challenge that Manchin faces over the Biden administration’s Build Back Better bill – legislation that Manchin has seemingly torpedoed.

As a scholar and native of the state who has long followed West Virginian politics, I know that Manchin is typically deft in balancing support for government programs that will benefit people in the state with the social conservatism that many adhere to. It is what he did in the “Dead Wrong” ad, and it is what he is trying to do now by delivering tangible benefits on some dimensions, while “standing up” to the president and Democratic leadership on others.

What Say the Lodestar?

There are reasons to suppose that West Virginians would be in favor of many elements contained in Build Back Better, Biden’s package of legislation that aims to fix problems ranging from child care costs to climate change.

The legislation contains not only the child tax credit, which would send monthly payments of up to $300 per child to families across the U.S., but also improvements to the Affordable Care Act, upgraded infrastructure for health care, and better access to housing. Its largest portion is $555 billion dedicated to climate change – representing the first major legislative action on climate in the U.S.

In a state where poverty is high, rural health care is sparse and climate change threatens to bring frequent, intense flooding, it seems unimaginable that the senator would fail to support the legislation.

Yet on Dec. 19, 2021, Manchin announced on Fox News that he would not. That Manchin did this on Fox News speaks to the general public sentiment in West Virginia.

It sparked a very public “battle of the Joes” in which Biden maintained that Manchin dealt in bad faith after months of personal cajoling and negotiations by the president. Manchin, for his part, reportedly offered Biden everything in Build Back Better except for the Child Tax Credit.

The fight threatens consequences for man and party. The viability of the razor-thin Democratic majority’s ability to govern headed into the 2022 midterms is at stake. But the conflict also poses a major problem for Manchin himself, with Biden using Manchin’s opposition to the child tax credit as a political pressure point – publicly shaming the West Virginian for failing to support a measure that would deliver support to many families in his own state.

Reconciliation Masks Broad Agreement

To understand what Manchin opposes, it’s useful to understand what reconciliation does to a multidimensional bill.

Normally, major legislative initiatives would each have their own bill. But each would need to pass the Senate with 60 votes in order to avoid a filibuster that could end up killing the bill. To get past that hurdle, Democrats have piled all of Biden’s initiatives into what’s called a budget reconciliation bill, which only requires a majority of votes to pass – a much lower threshold and one that a united Democratic Party could meet in the Senate.

Yet because legislators must cast a single vote for what is a diverse package, disagreement on one dimension can sink the whole reconciliation bill – even if there is broad agreement on the other proposals. In this case, Manchin wants to jettison the child tax credit, but made an offer that reportedly includes the improvements to the ACA, health care infrastructure, as well as the climate change provisions – remarkable for a senator from a state so dependent on fossil fuels for economic growth and stability.

It is likely Manchin will return to the bargaining table over the next few weeks, absent, or in spite of, the public shaming over the child tax credit from the president.

The Typical Manchin Pivot

West Virginians tend toward conservative views on typical culture war issues like guns, abortions and race.

The purported support for Build Back Better in West Virginia is likely overstated among the electorate – polling is sparse and generally done by supportive organizations – though West Virginians typically are in favor of government programs that benefit them. Winning elections in West Virginia historically entails candidates pledging to bring home benefits to the state. And this is exactly the approach Manchin typically adopts, delivering policy that has majority support, while signaling his fidelity to culture war issues.

Manchin has continually referred to his constituents as his lodestar – “If I can’t go back home and explain it, I can’t vote for it.”

Normally, Manchin gets pressure on social issues from the more liberal wing of the Democratic Party. This criticism from the wider party is fuel for his positioning and policy goals within the state. On such issues, the more criticism he receives from the Left, the better. He is deft at pivoting on this pressure to make policy that has general support in the state, such as displayed in the “Dead Wrong” ad.

The public pressure on child tax credits is not the norm and does not offer the same pivot for Manchin. West Virginians value programs like the child tax credit.

Furthermore, support in the state for child tax credits means Manchin is left exposed politically in a way that damages his ability to maintain the fragile coalition that he normally relies on. And, despite progressive outcry for a primary challenger, make no mistake about it, no other Democrat could hold that West Virginian seat.

Manchin’s seeming obstinance can be understood in two ways. He’s either a conservative Democrat failing to get behind the president’s legislative agenda, or he simply wants to prioritize programs within that agenda that keeps to a general spending target.

Manchin’s opposition to the child tax credit reflects his concern about how the monthly benefit will affect the budget. Simultaneously, colleagues say he is concerned over how lower-income citizens will spend the money, reportedly worrying about it being spent on drugs.

This second concern echoes a common conservative trope. But if a comment like that might hurt a politician in a liberal state, it is understandable in the context of the West Virginia electorate’s social conservatism.

Despite Manchin’s comments sparking predictions that his position doomed Build Back Better, it may not be as clear cut as that.

The senator’s willingness to accept all the other major provisions in the bill leaves plenty of room for bargaining. If Manchin can find a way to do his customary pivot – supporting the Democratic proposals while satisfying his constituents that he’s being socially conservative and standing up to the Left – he may well get on board and put away the shotgun.

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  1. BeliTsari

    Being BLATANT is essential to their große Lüge? To rub our terrified faces in our powerlessness, as we LOTE sneering tag-team kleptocrats to rob and indenture us, sacrifice uppity “essentials” to work, infected with Omicron (just like Cuomo, Trump & de Blasio did two years ago and spew lies that SCIENCE mitt uns! As you need prove boosting, so you can work horribly ill, infecting us, so they can monitize our demise, harvest our homes, jobs, kids’ convalescent serum?

  2. drumlin woodchuckles

    So because Manchin is afraid his constituents would spend the Child Tax Credit money on drugs, the poor families of 49 other states get to see their children starve and sicken in a return to deep poverty? Or because Manchin decides to elevate a fake concern for “deficit” which doesn’t bother him about vastly huger Military Keynesian bills, the families of 49 other states can watch their children go hungry and sick again?

    If the House DemProgs don’t see the restoration of what they were lyingly deceitfully promised to begin with in the Biden Bill, let them burn it all down. BBB, Manchin’s political future, any Democratic Senator or Representative from West Virginia ever again, a Democratic President in 2024, a Democratic House in 2022 . . . let them burn it all down. All of it.

    As they should have done right at the start, when the two bills were lyingly deceitfully separated to begin with.

    1. Bart Hansen

      I would think that most WVA voters support the military budget and also believe that, despite knowing neighbors who would spend the child credit on drugs, have their doubts about that benefit as well.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Rationally, Manchin overstepped. His PAC money is worthless for example. No one who wants to win will take it. He’s toxic, and he’s not in Connecticut where he is the GOP’s best option. They aren’t making overtures to him. After all, he voted to convict Trump twice.

      What happens when the money doesn’t come in? People will cheesed, and old Joe is the one who messed it up. He already knows this. His excuses are pathetic, a phone call from a grandmother. That’s it? This is a country of 300 million.

      Of course, he is dishonest and missed a chance to take a victory lap. The CPC personalities have already said he is dishonest.

      1. Susan the other

        It looks like a smokescreen. Manchin can’t possibly think this is rational – he’s just shrewd enough to take a false stand against the BBB, one absurdly against the child tax credit, to stop the entire legislation (because it’s reconciliation quality) dead in the water. I’d be suspicious of a hidden agenda. One that involved coal mines and the future of coal in a green economy. Manchin can’t actually give a speech about this because it is unarguable. It is a non-position. To argue for coal is far more absurd than to argue against the child tax credit. But he can give himself cover to buy time, and speak privately with Biden and the rest of the Dems about how to ease West Virginia coal tycoons into a politically acceptable position, especially for himself – as a valuable member of the Democrat Party. Right?

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          He and they should not be permitted to get away with it. Burn BBB down. This is the last chance the House DemProgs will have to establish some last small shred of political credibility.
          By voting it down and then by voting down every single thing the Pelosi-Manchinoid Leadership wants to see passed all the way to election 2022.

          Go Gingrich or Go Home.

    3. Jen

      I noticed how many times his name was writen here and is spoken on tv. His goal is to be recognized not help the American people.
      Stop acknowledging him at all for his bad behavior. Just talk about the state of the subject, someone did it and why.

    4. wendigo

      There is an old russian joke about God, a peasant and a neighbour with a cow.

      Apparently killing as many cows as possible is a positive for a large enough segment of Manchin voters and not a negative for the rest.

      But of course, individual cows only. Large herds are sacrosanct.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Apparently that joke is able to cross ethnic lines. I have read this version of the joke.

        God came to earth one day to help Yorgos the Greek learn about loving his neighbor. God visited Yorgos and said: ” I will grant any wish you have. I will give you absolutely any thing you ask for. And I will give your neighbor Mustapha the Turk twice as much of it.”

        So Yorgos the Greek instantly says: ” Put out one of my eyes.”

    5. Parker Dooley

      Drugs like insulin or Epi-Pens, perchance?

      And he also is against deer hunting, apparently. Does Maserati Joe think many of his constituents don’t *need* to hunt for food?

    6. Colin Spenncer

      I could not agree with you more!!! In addition, if centrist Dems want a centrist Dem President in the future they should elect one themselves and good luck with that. Progressives need to stay away from the voting booth so that they are not taken for granted. If centrist Dems want to vote Repub, let them do that and let see how many lumps of coal Repubs will deliver to them.

      1. Coy Lay

        I think as many contributions as possible to is the best way for progressives to express themselves right now. A tide of money from inside and outside WV would send a message. I think JM’s commitment to his constituents preferences is overstated and is pulling the wool over an understanding of his true motivations which is to his major supporter’s interest in natural gas, timber, and coal. It is too much to hope a Senator would step into a leadership role in promoting programs that benefit both WV and the rest of the country.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        They can still come to the voting booth to vote about certain initiatives and referrenda and such. And if they see any ” Red Gingriches” to vote for at the local or regionalocal level, they can vote for that too. And still leave the National Federal offices blank and un-voted about.

  3. paul

    From the wikipedia thing:

    Build Back Better: The phrase was used in 2009 by former President Bill Clinton while referring to Haiti after the political upheaval and storms of 2008.
    (Could do better might be more appropriate)
    Raja Swamy’s “Building Back Better in India: Development, NGOs, and Artisanal Fishers after the 2004 Tsunami” [10] Swamy calls attention to how narratives of betterment dominate official discourses of disaster recovery, linking recovery with the needs and goals of capital while aiding in the further dispossession and marginalization of affected populations.
    (Seems closer to the mark).

  4. The Historian

    Sorry, but I don’t buy it! This article may list his excuses but not his reasons. What about all that cash and fawning he’s getting from corporations like Big Pharma and the the energy industries? Has that nothing to do with Manchin’s behavior?

  5. Robert Hahl

    So it’s obviously not the deficit, and it can’t really be the fear that parents will spend more money on drugs, so what is it? I vote for the fear that people may be able to resist working for the prevailing (low) wages.

    1. drsteve0

      That makes a lot more sense than the severe beating around the bush I got from the article. The plutocracy wants to keep the poor and powerless poor and powerless, and the dude (Manchin) abides.

    2. Odysseus


      I don’t like mind reading, but Manchin has not ever stated a credible basis for opposition.

      The simplest explanation that fits the facts is that he is a pathetic little man hurting people because he can.

        1. juno mas

          It’s limited. High school…College Business School grad…then into the family business (coal).

          What may (not) surprise you is that Manchin is 74. Like DiFi, Pelosi, and others, he doesn’t seem to want to leave the halls of Congress.

          1. Christopher Horne

            Erm, not what I meant, but thanks. I mean, were there
            any factors (strict parents, bullying at school, father’s
            profession, etc) that go into any child’s adult character
            that would give us a clue as to why he is the way he is.
            He obviously cherishes money, success and material
            things above everything but power. Was he religious,
            rebellious as a youth, etc. etc. Of course, for all I
            know, he might just be an ’empty suit’, with no real
            inner convictions at all.

            The more laws and order are made prominent, the more thieves and robbers there will be.

            Lao Tzu

            1. anon y'mouse

              seeking for a personality to explain the role he’s been cast to play by the Dems is naive and intentionally built to distract from valuable conversations.

              please no more of “my daddy’s unlove made me do it”. this is politics, not a hairdresser appointment.

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            If he really doesn’t want to leave the halls of Congress, and if he wanted the name Manchin to be a political dynasty name like Bush or Kennedy, then driving him out of Congress and any other elective office he might covet, and making the name Manchin toxic for all time to abort the dynasty from ever forming ( ” Let thine heritage be cut off”)
            might make him feel so bad as to be a sort of punishment at the psychomental-emotional level.

  6. Louis Fyne

    WV has a higher median age than FL.

    NY-DC pundits yelling at Manchin over child credits should be offering something to WV seniors. As future parents are leaving WV and not looking back.

    Merry Christmas to all

    1. CitizenSissy

      Completely agree. Reinstating Medicare at 60 may be a bargaining chip worth considering.
      Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday season to all!

    2. Jen

      Thank you. We’re tired of being treated as disposable americans. We live on a social security fixed income less than povety level our medicare covers hardly anything, no vision, no dental. These are medical needs as well. The private equity bunch in these fields won’t take us because of the low reimbursement rates.

  7. NotTimothyGeithner

    All these people pretendig Manchin is dealing in good faith must be awful dog owners. I sure hope they dont have kids because they will all turnout to be monstrous little trolls. Pressure works. The only reason he is one tending to deal is he effed up. He blamed the President’s staff. He’s a dishonest person and a terrorist. He’s had opportunities to help West Virginia.

    Now we have all these stories about possible deals. Manchin is clearly afraid, but he can’t be trusted at all until he’s broken. Even then, he still can’t be trusted.

  8. bernie karpf

    Having my usual skeptical orientation —- i don’t believe for a moment that Biden and the dem’s really want this bill to pass. If they did – they would be publicizing daily, the insensitivity of Manchin.

    There is no compelling concern in the democratic party to pass this legislation, that i see. If there was, they would have booted both sinema and manchin (or threatened to), and allow the GOP to take the ‘hit’ for not even this little bit of reform legislation.

    1. Tom Doak

      They aren’t publicizing it daily because they don’t want to draw a big red circle around the part that Manchin is objecting to.

      He didn’t object [publicly] to the idea of a child tax credit, he objected to it being funded only for one year, by ten years of some tax increase, because of the Democrats’ stupid insistence on “pay for”. And he knows that the Democrats’ explicit strategy in extending the tax credit is to get people used to relying on it, so it will be harder to take away in the years ahead, even though it’s not funded.

      I’m no fan of Manchin, but I don’t believe he’s stupid . . . other than “stupid” enough to stand on his principles, however much we disagree with them.

      1. Odysseus

        Taxes do not pay for federal spending.

        The “stupid insistence on pay for” arises because that’s a rule of the reconciliation process. While that rule may have no justification, following process is sometimes important.

        If extending the tax credit is the correct thing to do, then do it. Manchin is offering terrible arguments.

      2. bernie karpf

        This all sounds like gobblygook to me. Are you saying that the Manchin/Democrats both agree on child tax credit ————- but ———- they torpedoed the bill because they both couldn’t find a path to funding it?

        How important can this bill be to these people if they are going to portray such a monumental fail? Are they auditioning for a keystone cop comedy?

        The appearance of this is awful. Its like the $15/hr ‘compelling’ legistaltion that was sunk by some woman who rules on ‘Senate rules’?

        The democrats seem to be itching to place another Trumplike cretin into the White House best they can……..

        1. Christopher Horne

          RE: $15/hr. Curiously, it appears that Federal legislation is
          not entirely crucial. Already a large number of states have
          caved in and allowed it, Capitalism or not.

    2. Cetra Ess

      I tend to agree that Biden didn’t really want this to pass. I can’t get over the feeling that Manchin is just the vehicle chosen to deflect blame from the prez. I’m likewise not sensing that Biden fought very hard for this.

      Also, it has always seemed to me that putting everything plus the kitchen sink in an omnibus bill is a good way to ensure none of it gets passed. As opposed to having a focused climate change bill which is exclusively about climate change, and a child care bill which is exclusively about childcare, etc. Omnibus ensures it’s difficult to track who opposed what and on what grounds, it’s much more difficult to cover in the news.

    3. redleg

      You can tell the Dems don’t want it to pass because the only thing they talk about is the dollar amount, not what the bill does.

  9. Eastside

    Manchin opposes the the child tax credit change because it is a highly regressive tax credit. If you’re opposed to rolling back SALT limits, you should be opposed to this. I don’t know Manchin said it will be used for drugs, but it’s very clear that little of the credit will ‘trickle down’ to poor WV children

    The vast majority of the benefit will go to upper the middle class, in large states. This is a mid-term SALT rollback replacement for the rich state Dems. Ergo – Manchin will get whatever he wants, or … more likely, the Dems really, really don’t want this thing to pass.

    Full disclosure …I do my own taxes, and I benefit greatly from the rollback

  10. Starry Gordon

    Once one has decided to spend 780 billion dollars or whatever it is for useless imperial wars, surveillance, secret police and so forth, and to fatten the very rich with yet more funny money (which prices the less-than-rich out of housing and education), all else is a footnote, even if one wants to discuss whether it is to be poured down bureaucratic ratholes or not. “Nothing fundamental will change.”

    1. Colin Spenncer

      If the defense/military/weapons research/espionage budget was $780B, it would be a bargain. It is really closer to $2T but no one mentions that. There is plenty of money for the aforementioned but there is no money to spend $1.75B/yr for 10 years on social programs.

  11. Chase

    “The senator’s willingness to accept all the other major provisions in the bill leaves plenty of room for bargaining.”

    Did the author forget that the Democrats already took a hacksaw to the legislation at Manchin’s request? What is there left bargain away at this point?

    I’m not familiar with this author- and I’m sure they’re plenty brilliant in their given field -but they read like one of those myopic technocrats our political system is flush with, the kind of people who see the passage of legislation as a good in itself as long as the right team signs their name to it.

    It reminds me of how my friends and I would pass pokemon cards between ourselves at school. These similarly worthless- but certainly more interesting to look at -pieces of paper spawned a primitive playground economy, and whoever had the foil Charizard was a king among kids.

    Our developing brains were in the right phase at the right time to invest such anima in fancy cardstock, but most of us grew out of it. As I get increasingly bitter over politics, this kind of think-piece reads like it comes from minds that never did.

  12. Jen

    Thank you. We’re tired of being treated as disposable americans. We live on a social security fixed income less than povety level our medicare covers hardly anything, no vision, no dental. These are medical needs as well. The private equity bunch in these fields won’t take us because of the low reimbursement rates.

  13. Adams

    Sorry to say, I find this post disappointing. Vacuous. I supposed being written by a fellow West Virginian is what gives it some legitimacy, but pop psychologizing and remote, speculative analysis of the thoughts and motivation of others leaves me cold. I simply find Manchin’s actions despicable, but at least he says the quiet, stupid, judgmental part right out loud. Other dems gratefully take cover behind his grandstanding.

    He has effectively killed Biden’s presidency, although Uncle Joe’s stupid adherence to his concept of the basic decency of his “colleagues” certainly played a part. I would have thought that after Barry’s disastrous collapse someone might have helped Biden to get a clue. But no…old (very) habits die hard.

    The idea that progressives should swallow more sh*t is absurd. They’re already full of it (except for the few.)

    1. Michael Ismoe

      I’m sorry but I totally disagree. Manchin has been surprisingly consistent about what he would and wouldn’t vote for.

      He offered to basically repeal Trump’s tax cuts and get rid of carried interest rates for billionaires. Chuck Schmer refused to take yes for an answer. Chuck Schumer is a freaking moron. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you understand what the real problem is.

      1. Adams

        What? Chuck “carried interest loophole,” “Israel uber alles” Schumer is a freaking moron? We agree on that. W/R/T Manchin. Any Dem whose brain is still stuck in “the deficit myth” and who refuses to support the CTC, among other things like supporting coal while enriching themselves, is a scumbag. Not to mention the time money and energy he wasted stringing everyone along with his grandstanding.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Chuck Schumer is certainly an equal problem. And his leadership position gives him all kinds of sabotage power. ” The Pelosi of New York”.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Biden’s Presidency was miscarriaged and born dead to begin with. The only reason I voted for it was to keep Trump out of office.

      And I helped in my small way to achieve that mission.

      Unfortunately, the Joemala Administration will create such a powerful vacuum of disappointment and bitterness at having been betrayed, betrayed utterly . . . that the Joemala vacuum will suck Trump back into office by anywhere up to a ” Nixon in ’72” landslide in 2024. And that’s even with me still voting for Joemala to once again keep Trump out of office. Which my one pathetic little ballot will fail to do.

  14. Huey Long

    House progs should have stood firm back in October/November and told Manchin/Sinema/Pelosi/Biden that there’s either build back better with the social programs intact or nothing at all.

    Instead they caved and gave up all their leverage and we’re here on Xmas discussing the desires of Manchin’s constituents after another ‘Lucy and the football’ incident that even a 2-bit nobody from NJ like me saw coming a mile away.

    Wake me up when somebody decides to Do Something about Manchin, like strip his committee assignments, primary him, throw him out of the party, etc. Sinema too for that matter.

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      Manchin is a red herring. Yes, at this point he’s the holdup, but if the president and de facto leader of the Democrat party can’t get one member of his own party in line to get one vote to get his signature legislation passed, the issue isn’t Joe Manchin.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Well, that’s true too. But Manchin apparently likes being the designated rotating villain this time around, and should be made to pay such a heavy intergenerational price that other rotating villain wannabes may rethink their desire to be the next rotating villain.

  15. p fitzsimon

    What Manchin objects to in the “Child Tax Credit” is a family with $400,000 in total income reaping another $4000 for their two children or possibly the family with $150000 income gaining an extra $7200 for their two children. He prefers steeper means testing.

    1. juno mas

      Has he made a counter proposal? A family making $400k is actually a rarity in the US today. A two- income family making $150k (100k+50k) is much more common. $150k puts you in the middle class in California. But with two parents working, having affordable child care is an imperative.

      1. Sue inSoCal

        Absolutely. But Scrooge here doesn’t see anything changing. I recall when Bill Clinton’s “End Welfare As We Know It” or some half assed euphemism turned into “Punish Single Mothers With a Catch 22” under Dubya. Rich? Good mothers stay home with their kids. Poor? Get your lazy butt out there and work for benefits, and good luck with that child care btw. I agree with you: $150k/mo might have worked in the 80s/90s for childcare, but not now. Not to mention underpaid workers who will remain underpaid but the costs will remain stratospheric due to the takeover of our friends in private equity. Just a guess.

  16. Mel

    But the kayfabe was superb. We were rivetted to our seats for month after month, and, at the end, nothing had fundamentally changed. Now it’s all rewound, the genies are back in their lamps, and we’re ready to roll the whole thing all over again in 2022.

    “We open
    in Venice
    We next play
    Then on to
    Cremona, lotsa laughs in Cremona.
    Our next jump
    is Parma
    That dopey, mopey menace
    Then Mantua, then Padua then we open again, where?”

    — the Strolling Players in Cole Porter’s Kiss Me, Kate.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      You’re right. It was, and we were.

      Admitting that is admitting that Manchin was only a very important bit player , the “rotating villain” of a broader DemParty Conspiracy to prevent valuable legislation from being passed.

  17. Dave in Austin

    First, on the term “Child Tax Credit”. Am I mistaked, or do people who have no tax liabiliy get the “credit” as a monthly cash payment? If so, this is not a tax credit but a form of income support for people with children. That may be a worth goal, but to call it a tax credit is simply false.

    Second, Manchin and everyone else in the US has seem small ” camel’s nose under the tent” progams morph into huge “unanticipated” boondoggles. Medicare, a program with a worthy goal, is an example as are a number of military procurements. In the case of Medicare, a program widely supported by the drug industry, the hospital industry and doctors (who have all done very well, thank you), has seen costs grow to the point that we now spend twice as much on our form of socialized medicine as do other industrial societies.

    Is there anyone who honestly believes that this formerly “temporary, emergency credit” will stay at $300/month? And I live among relatively poor people with little foresight. I watched the $1,200 one-time payment being spent on larger TVs than I have. An expansion of food stamps and job training make more sense to me.

  18. Adams

    Someone has a larger teevee than you do? Ahhh! There oughta be a law.

    We do not have any form of “socialized medicine” and have tens of millions of uninsured and grossly underinsured to prove it. Not to mention worse health care outcomes than most other countries system- wide on infant mortality, life expectancy, etc. And the most expensive insulin on the planet.

    An expansion of food stamps and job training? How many times has that been tried, all the way back to the “Work Incentive Program” of the late 60’s. Didn’t work. How about raising the minimum wage, encouraging collective bargaining through increasing union membership and taxing the shit out of obscene wealth to fund programs like universal health care and subsidized day care which actually enable people to work and increase aggregate demand. Sort of the pull of hope instead of the push of misery approach. Seems to work in other places. But they don’t have ridiculous, bi-partisan bloated military expenditures to fund neo cold war fantasies of the global hegemony of US “democratic” capitalism.

    1. Christopher Horne

      RE: Job training. Worked pretty well under Jimmy Carter, at least for me.
      I took an industrial training course and wound up with a career at Boeing
      that lasted 30 years. Whatever the cost of the training program, over time
      I paid it back in taxes many, many times over. IMHO, industrial training
      was a real bargain for the American people.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        That was at a time when there were still jobs to train for.

        The only way to create or restore jobs to train for today would be to withdraw America from all aspects of the Free Trade System and spend the next few decades rebuilding a Survival Autarky Industrial Ecosystem at the smaller more modest level which our shrunken resource base and our shrunken margin of pollutability would allow.

      2. tegnost

        Some of my island neighbors are retired boeing, they say they were paid to retire so the company could shed the cost. Did you get in on one of the labor crushing buyouts?

  19. Michael C.

    The author does not mention Manchin’s all-important corporate funders, which main stream news also stays away from since it exposes the corrupt system for what it is. Musn’t do that! He also ignores how Manchin didn’t blink at voting for the insane Pentagon budget, which a true fiscal conservative might question. Hypocrisy and corruption are two elephants smirking in the room.

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