Nov 10, 2021
Although Sen. Joe Manchin's approval ratings in his home state of West Virginia have seen a steady decline in recent years and he's been rebuked over his stonewalling of President Joe Biden's agenda by powerful members of his own party, the right-wing Democrat will have at least one ultra-rich Republican working to make sure he keeps his seat when he's up for re-election in 2024.
"When billionaires take over our elections, we get a country that bends to their will."
Ken Langone, a billionaire investor and longtime donor to Republican campaigns, toldCNBC Wednesday that he plans to have "one of the biggest fundraisers I've ever had" for Manchin in light of the senator's refusal to support the original Build Back Better Act.
Langone called Manchin and "great American" and praised his "guts and courage" in torpedoing his own party's effort to pass the legislation, a 10-year investment in social spending that originally included broadly popular provisions including an expansion of Medicare benefits, paid family and medical leave, and tuition-free community college.
Democrats are still debating the package, which is expected to change further before the Senate votes on it. Late last month, the proposal was cut from $3.5 trillion to $1.75 trillion, with numerous programs to help lower- and middle-income households removed or severely weakened as a result of obstruction by Manchin and other right-wing Democrats.
Langone also applauded Manchin's so-called "leadership," which has come in the form of his refusal to back the Clean Energy Performance Program (CEPP), which would work to replace the nation's coal- and gas-fired power plants with solar and wind power infrastructure. Contrary to Langone's claim that Manchin--whose family profits from coal sales in West Virginia--is "leading" the nation with his opposition to the bill, numerous studies have shown that job opportunities are growing in clean energy sectors as oil, coal, and natural gas see losses or stagnation.
The research group Northwest Progressive Institute tweeted that Langone's support and praise for Manchin was unsurprising, as the senator's opposition to the Build Back Better agenda--which Democrats wanted to include a tax on the wealthiest Americans to shore up social spending--is his way of "looking out for the billionaires of America."
"Manchin collecting his cash for making sure the poor stay poor and billionaires like Langone pay no taxes," said journalist Krystal Ball of Langone's comments.
As Manchin gutted various provisions in the Build Back Better Act in recent months, his reelection committee raised more than $1.5 million, with contributions from JPMorgan Chase, Duke Energy, Southern Nuclear Operating Co., UBS Americas, and PG&E.
"When billionaires take over our elections," said the grassroots group Democracy for America, "we get a country that bends to their will. We must get big money out of politics."
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