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Everyone seems to have an opinion about Manchin's Build Back Better decision


CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WV Record) Lawmakers, politicians, community leaders and interested groups – locally and nationally – are throwing their two cents in regarding Sen. Joe Manchin’s decision not to support the Biden administration’s Build Back Better Act.

“Senator Manchin has made the best possible decision for our state and nation,” West Virginia Chamber of Commerce President Steve Roberts told The West Virginia Record. “As one who has studied the proposed Build Back Better bill with an open mind, I concluded the bill adds to our nation’s debt by adding so much spending and many programs that would be costly and never go away.

“The bill specifically hurts our West Virginia energy production and pointedly raises taxes on natural gas which is vital to our well-being and is an important ingredient in many manufacturing processes. The bill favored out of state auto and truck manufacturers and hurt our own in state producers.”

Roberts said the legislation also “seriously undermined our childcare services and specifically negatively targeted the church based providers” which he said provides 53 percent of our nation’s childcare services.

“Manchin worked months to try to bring forward a more reasonable plan but in the end the many onerous provisions passed by the House stayed in the (President) Biden, (Senate Majority Leader Chuck) Schumer, (Speaker of the House Nancy) Pelosi backed bill,” Roberts said. “Respected economists identified the bill as adding to the already severe inflationary spiral. Manchin correctly calls inflation ‘the cruelest tax.’

“Recent polling reveals nearly 70 percent of our state’s voters oppose this House passed tax, regulate and spend plan. Senator Manchin has made the best possible decision for his state and our nation.”

Roberts also noted that recent polling shows a large majority of West Virginia voters oppose certain aspects of the House-passed version of the bill, and the West Virginia Chamber has identified the plan as a ‘tax, regulate and spend plan.’

Additionally, last week the West Virginia Chamber and U.S. Chamber conducted a tele-town hall with thousands of West Virginians who had the opportunity to speak and ask questions. Not one person who spoke wanted Build Back Better to pass. (The U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform owns The Record.)

Chris Hamilton, president and CEO of the West Virginia Coal Association, agrees with Roberts.

“On behalf of West Virginia’s coal miners and our energy economy, I applaud U.S. Senator Joe Manchin for his decision to vote no on the Build Back Better Act should it come before the Senate in 2022,” Hamilton said in a press release. “In the face of incredible pressure, Senator Manchin remained true to his West Virginia values and the bedrock common sense we all share here in the Mountain State.”

Hamilton called the legislation an attempt by Pelosi, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and other “congressional extremists” to insert the “Green New Deal into an already bloated federal budget bill.”

“In defending his position, Senator Manchin said ‘If enacted, the bill will also risk the reliability of our electric grid and increase our dependence on foreign supply chains,’” Hamilton noted. “‘We have invested billions of dollars into clean energy technologies so we can continue to lead the world in reducing emissions through innovation.’

“We couldn’t say it any better! Senator Manchin’s position ensures that fossil energy will continue, at least for now, to provide energy independence and energy security for America, and significant economic value to West Virginia and our citizens.”

A progressive member of the U.S. House of Representatives called out Manchin.

“We all knew that Senator Manchin couldn’t be trusted,” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) told MSNBC’s Ali Velshi. “The excuses he just made, I think, are complete bullshit. It is really disheartening to hear him say that he has been trying to get there for the people of West Virginia -- because that's a complete lie.

“The people of West Virginia would greatly benefit from their families having access to long-term elderly care and care for folks with disabilities. They would benefit from the expansion of the child tax credits. They will benefit from having access to pre-K. There are just so many things that, you know, the people of West Virginia desperately need. And we know that he is not working on behalf of their interests.

“I really am just completely disappointed and disgusted by his reasoning.”

She also made similar comments on Twitter.

“Let’s be clear: Manchin’s excuse is bullshit,” Omar tweeted. “The people of West Virginia would directly benefit from childcare, pre-Medicare expansion, and long term care, just like Minnesotans. This is exactly what we warned would happen if we separated Build Back Better from infrastructure.”

Another progressive Democratic member of the House also was critical of Manchin.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) called Manchin’s justification for his position a “farce.”

“It’s a farce in terms of, you know, plain democracy, because I represent more — or just, just as many, or more people than Joe Manchin does, perhaps more,” she said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “I think what Senator Manchin did yesterday represents such an egregious breach of the trust of the president.

“The Senate adjourned on Friday. And then he waited until everyone was on vacation to say, ‘No, I’m not going to vote for this.’ He waited until there was a moment of minimal pressure, when he didn’t have to go back into the Senate, when all of this stuff was happening. This is a very calculated timing.”

An editorial in the Wall Street Journal praised Manchin’s decision.

In the opinion piece, headlined “Manchin Rescues the Democrats,” the WSJ Editorial Board says Manchin’s decision is “a service to the country, sparing it from huge tax increases and new entitlements that would fan inflation and erode the incentive for Americans to work.

“Paradoxically, it is also a blessing for Democrats if they get the message, and it offers President Biden a chance to reboot.”

It also noted how Sanders promised retribution for Manchin back home, calling it “a hollow threat” because a recent poll showed West Virginians oppose the legislation by about 3 to 1.

“Mr. Sanders demanded an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor, and Mr. Manchin said he’s fine with that,” the editorial states. “As we’ve written, bring it on, and make Senate Democrats running for re-election in 2022 vote on it. Don’t be surprised if such a vote never happens.”

The WSJ editorial also chides the media “that cheered Mr. Biden’s entitlement ambitions as the second coming of FDR” for “now blaming Mr. Manchin for hurting his party.”

“But where were they when we warned that Mr. Biden and Democrats in Congress were offering a radical agenda that far exceeded the mandate of their narrow victories in 2020 and the grasp of a 50-50 Senate?” the editorial asks. “The media’s progressive bias again misled Democrats into thinking they would carry the day.”

It also notes how Manchin’s defection “vindicates” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s strategy to support “an infrastructure bill that showed bipartisan Senate deal-making is possible.”

“We don’t apologize for opposing that bill on the merits; it contains hundreds of billions of dollars in wasted spending,” the editorial said. “But Mr. McConnell calculated that sometimes you have to sacrifice a piece to win the chess match, and the GOP leader read the West Virginian well.”

Others chimed in as well.

United Steelworkers International President Tom Conway and District 8 Director Billy Thompson issued a statement urging Manchin to vote for the legislation.

“The Build Back Better Act represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in America’s middle class, providing access to badly needed resources like quality child- and eldercare, affordable health care and safer, more resilient workplaces,” the pair said in the statement. “Joe Manchin now has the chance to join his Senate colleagues to make this a reality, not only for the hundreds of thousands of workers in West Virginia who voted for him, but for working families across our nation, who are depending on our elected officials to finally put their well-being ahead of that of the already rich and powerful.

“We urge Sen. Manchin to reconsider his current, misguided position on Build Back Better and instead negotiate in good faith to finalize the bill. There is simply too much at stake for him to walk away from his responsibility to our nation: to meet today’s challenges while ensuring a more secure future for all Americans.”

“It is cruel and indefensible. Senator Manchin continues to betray West Virginia, and the country, and sell the future of this nation away to his corporate backers,” said Sonja Spoo, campaign director at UltraViolet, a national gender justice association. “We won’t let that stand. Women, especially women of color, worked our asses off to put Democrats in power to pass the policies in Build Back Better Act and one out of touch senator is not going to stop us from ensuring our demands are met.

“This is more than just a piece of legislation. This is the future prosperity of our families, nation and earth at stake. We must pass the Build Back Better Act immediately. It is critical the Senate votes on this legislation without any further delay.”

“Type One diabetics like me are left with one decision at the pharmacy counter: pay the high price of insulin or die,” Mindy Salango of Mogantown said via a press release from Protect Our Care. “Unchecked greed has ruled the pharmaceutical industry for far too long, but Build Back Better would lower drug prices and improve care for millions of seniors and working families.

“Without Build Back Better, diabetics could still be forced to pay hundreds of dollars on insulin instead of just $35 per month. In the greatest country in the world, we are not meant to beg and depend on the kindness of strangers in order to obtain insulin. This is ‘survival of the richest’ and it must stop.”

Salango said she isn’t ready to stop fighting.

“I’m not giving up the fight – for myself and on behalf of those who are rationing their insulin, those who are not caring for their chronic disease as they should, those who are suffering irreparable harm to their bodies, those who are dying, and those who have died,” Salango said. “Senator Manchin, you promised West Virginians lower drug prices, and I took you at your word. Please fight for us.”

Even celebrities got in on the talk.

“What Joe Manchin, who represents a population smaller than Brooklyn, has done to the rest of America, who wants to move forward, not backward, like his state, is horrible,” Bette Midler tweeted Monday. “He sold us out. He wants us all to be just like his state, West Virginia. Poor, illiterate and strung out.”

Midler later apologized for her comments about West Virginians.

“I apologize to the good people of WVA for my last outburst,” she tweeted. “I’m just seeing red; Joe Manchin and his whole family are a criminal enterprise. Is he really the best WV has to offer its own citizens? Surely there’s someone there who has the state’s interests at heart, not his own.”

Story by Chris Dickerson of WV Record

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