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Manchin protest

Stewart Acuff, of Jefferson County, W.Va., center, and Rev. Dr. William Barber of the Poor Peoples Campaign, conduct a news conference outside of Hart Building to call on Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., to support the Build Back Better plan and voting rights protections, on Tuesday, December 14, 2021. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Because Manchin Says He Can't, Experts Explain How Build Back Better Would Help West Virginians

"The numerous ways that Build Back Better would benefit West Virginians, the future of clean and reliable energy, and the planet are easy to explain."

Jon Queally

Congressional colleagues and outside critics Monday continued to call "bullshit" on Sen. Joe Manchin after the West Virginia Democrat claimed his "no" vote on the Democrats' signature Build Back Better legislation is because he finds it impossible to explain to the people in his state how it will improve their lives.

In his statement on Sunday, Manchin said, "I have always said, 'If I can't go back home and explain it, I can't vote for it.' Despite my best efforts, I cannot explain the sweeping Build Back Better Act in West Virginia and I cannot vote to move forward on this mammoth piece of legislation."

Rebuking the senator during a Monday morning interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), said, "The idea that Joe Manchin says he can't explain this back home to his people is a farce. It's a farce in terms of plain democracy because I represent just as many people or more than Joe Manchin does."

In a statement on Sunday following Manchin's statement and earlier comments made on Fox News, Center for American Progress president and CEO Patrick Gaspard issued seven specific ways in which the people of West Virginia, among the poorest states in the country, would benefit from the litany of policies contained in the pending legislation:

    • A West Virginia family with two young kids, earning roughly $40,000, would stand to save nearly $10,000 per year under Build Back Betteron healthcare, child care, and more.
    • Without Build Back Better, the typical health insurance marketplace enrollee in West Virginia would pay about $1,000 more each year on premiums for health insurance.
    • West Virginia has the third-highest share of residents over age 65 in the entire nation. One in 3 adults in the state have a disability, which is higher than the U.S. average. West Virginia would disproportionately benefit from investments in home- and community-based services to ensure that seniors and people with disabilities can get the care and support they need.
    • Home health aides in West Virginia also make just $10 per hour, despite the state needing to fill 30,000 of these same jobs in the next decade to meet demand. It is going to be near-impossible to do so without the investments in this legislative package. Investing in home- and community-based services is also an effective way to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic, as 1 in 3 Covid-19 deaths nationwide have been linked to long-term care facilities. 
    • In West Virginia, just 9% of children under age 6—or 5,664 in total—currently receive subsidized child care. Under Build Back Better, more than 94% of West Virginia kids from working families would be eligible for free or reduced-cost child care—an increase of nearly 54,000 children.
    • Under Build Back Better, the typical family in West Virginia would see their weekly child care costs fall roughly by half—from $198 to $96easing financial pressures on families and helping parents afford to remain in the workforce.
    • The Build Back Better Act is fiscally responsible, will not add to the deficit, and will reduce inflationary pressures over time. 

Ana María Archila, co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy, said Manchin's announcement represents an "undemocratic and unacceptable" obstruction that will harm real people both in his state and across the country.

"We are devastated that Sen. Manchin has chosen to work with Republicans to kill a lifesaving bill that would provide working families support they desperately need, especially during a pandemic," said Archila, who added that the legislation was "our best chance to address the critical, interconnected challenges facing our communities: healthcare, housing, climate change, paid leave, economic justice and immigration."

"With a single Fox News appearance," she continued, "that lifeline may be gone—for tens of millions across America, and for the one in 5 children in West Virginia who live in poverty, the 170,000 West Virginia children who benefit from the expanded Child Tax Credit, and the 26% of adults in his state who have lost their natural teeth because of lack of dental coverage."

Wall Street also reacted negatively to Manchin's decision, with banking giant Goldman Sachs on Sunday warning investors of "negative growth implications" based on news that BBB was imperiled.

According to CNN: "The Wall Street firm told clients Sunday it no longer assumes President Joe Biden's signature legislation will get through the narrowly divided Congress. [...] Citing the 'apparent demise' of Build Back Better, Goldman Sachs now expects GDP to grow at an annualized pace of 2% in the first quarter, down from 3% previously."

Morris Pearl, chair of the Patriotic Millionaires and a former managing director at BlackRock, said Sunday it was "ridiculous" for Manchin to refuse to support Biden's agenda and accused the senator of "betraying the American people" and his constituents.

"Manchin cited concerns over inflation and rising federal debt as reasons for his refusal to vote for the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better Act," said Pearl. "These aren't just off-base: they're borderline nonsensical."

"Economists have agreed that the social and climate spending provisions in the Act would not exacerbate inflation but would rather go a long way in slowing it down," he continued. "All of the Build Back Better programs are fully paid for by tax increases by the wealthy and corporations, and would reduce the federal deficit by allowing more people to enter the labor force, work, and pay taxes."

From kitchen-table economic issues to the global climate crisis, Gaspard said, the "numerous ways that Build Back Better would benefit West Virginians, the future of clean and reliable energy, and the planet are easy to explain."

Gaspard castigated Manchin for making his announcement to Fox News viewers instead of directly to his congressional colleagues who have been negotiating "in good faith" for months.

"We know that the climate crisis waits for no one, and every day that we delay investing in clean energy is one day closer to irreparable harm to the planet," he said. "We also know that millions of Americans cannot wait for more affordable prescription drugs and access to affordable child care."

Pearl said that if Manchin is so concerned about the deficit, progressives "would be thrilled to see the Build Back Better Act revised to include more tax increases on the rich."

Calling for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to call Manchin's bluff by injecting more taxes on the wealthy into the bill, Pearl said Manchin must be compelled to end his political obstruction that will harm the people of West Virginia and far beyond.

"Voters put Democrats into the House, Senate, and White House in the 2020 elections with the expectation that they would deliver for them," he said. "It is an absolute shame that they can't do this because of a single senator from West Virginia. It would be even more of a shame if they all ended up paying for it in 2022 and 2024."

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