Joe Manchin: "I want work requirements for everything. Means testing and work requirements."
The conservative plotting against the American people continues-- and I'm not even talking about Republicans. On Wednesday, Manchin and Sinema gathered up the worst of the House Blue Dogs and New Dems-- Gottheimer, Schrader, Correa, Murphy, Cuellar, etc-- who are helping them and No Labels to torpedo the Build Back Better Act. Psycho-Sinema, as previously reported, bragged she'd kill the whole package if the hard infrastructure bill she helped put together doesn't get voted on first. But what's leaked out of the meeting that is new, is that Manchin laid down his parameters for what he will and won't allow for the family-assistance programs that Biden had proposed.
Apparently, Manchin informed the White House that there could be no child tax credit unless there's an "established work" requirement (though, presumably, not for the children themselves). He also insisted again on means testing, unable to comprehend how societally divisive this is. He has insisted that no families get any tax credits if their income in above $60,000 annually, which is pretty idiotic considering what $60,000 buys in West Virginia compared to what it buys in better-educated, healthier and more productive parts of the country.
What Axios' Han Nichols reported yesterday is that while Manchin’s demands would dramatically weaken one of Biden’s signature programs to help working families, they also would reduce the package’s overall costs, making it easier for conservative Democrats with no understanding macro-economics to vote for a package they find it hard to comprehend to begin with. This sets up a stand-off with progressives who are determined to set the country on the path towards economic justice and a more equitable future that Manchin, Sinema and conservatives from both parties are dead set against.
Nichols reported that "While Manchin has previously indicated he wanted progressives to pick one of Biden's three programs to help working families, he now seems more favorably disposed to policies that target families with young children in need. In addition to the pared-back Child Tax Credit, Manchin is open to Biden's $450 billion plan to subsidize day care and offer free universal preschool... Manchin, however, wants to impose stricter income caps on the day care subsidies while keeping preschool free for everyone, as it already is in West Virginia. [Manchin is] less interested in the $225 billion to $450 billion paid family leave proposal or $400 billion for a new program to provide care for elderly and disabled people."
Manchin is unlikely to want his attempts to axe aid for the elderly to get back to West Virginia voters, since it is one of the states with the highest percentage of elderly populations-- and they vote! The top 10:
West Virginia- 19.9%
New Hampshire- 18.1%
South Carolina- 17.7%
Axios explained that "Biden expanded the CTC for 2021, giving most families with young children up to $3,600 a year, up from the previous $2,000, with monthly deposits going straight into bank accounts. He also extended it to households that didn’t have any taxable income, providing a direct subsidy to poor families that are out of the workforce. White House officials say that a permanent and expanded CTC can reduce childhood poverty by half."
Members of Congress who serve the interests of the wealthy-- in other words the GOP and the Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- have no interest in any of that. They are determined that "their people" not be taxed to pay for more social equality... and the Child Tax Credit would cost $450 billion for the 4 years Biden requested it be extended ($1.6 trillion if it stays in place for 10 years). Senators like Manchin, Sinema and each and every Republican shudders at the thought.
Sergio Alcubilla is the Oahu progressive challenging Ed Case, chair of the Blue Dogs and one of the worst of the corrupt conservatives trying to derail Bidlen's Build Back Better Act. "It's obvious to me," said Alcubilla today, "that rich and privileged politicians like Sen. Manchin or even our own Rep. Ed Case do not fully understand the struggles of our everyday working families. The parent that stays home to take care of a child because child care is unaffordable is working just as hard (likely even harder) as someone who goes into work in an office. Expanding the Child Tax Credit will help over 66 million additional children a year and in Hawai‘i an estimated 278,000 children. Now is not the time to make families already struggling with the costs of raising a family prove that they need help and are worth investing in. Our tax system cannot just be about helping and rewarding those already at the top (like many in Congress); we need it to help our families move upward."
Christine Olivo, an outstanding progressive congressional candidate in southeast Florida, noted this morning that "Any Senator who wants to place a work requirement in order for parents to receive the child tax credit has never had to rub two pennies together in order to buy diapers for their child. This is not about being fiscally responsible, this is a direct attack on working families. If this was about being fiscally responsible then Manchin would be talking about cutting funding for the military industrial complex. It is time to remove Republicans from the Democratic Party."
Another progressive challenger-- Shervin Aazami in California's San Fernando Valley-- also feels very strongly about this. "Over 3 million children were lifted out of poverty when the first child tax credit payments arrived in July," said Aazami today. "Parents used the money to pay for everyday expenses-- food, healthcare, rent, credit card payments, and so forth. Not only have the child tax credits helped countless families survive the economic pains of the pandemic, they’ve been proven to show no discernible impact on job participation. But none of that matters to Joe Manchin. Struggling to afford basic necessities is not something you can emphasize with when your daughter is CEO of a pharmaceutical company responsible for price-gouging life-saving allergy medicine by 400%, giving you a windfall of tens of millions of dollars. Fighting to avoid climate catastrophe is not something you prioritize when your son owns a multi-million dollar coal company that you founded."
The Orange County progressive Mike Ortega taking on obstructionist and corrupt Blue Dog Lou Correa, like Shervin, is a new first time father. "When we learned that the child tax credits would help bring people out poverty," he told me this morning, "I was confident our progressive coalition was only starting there. It looks like that Manchin, who likely is fronting for a larger group of conservative elected leaders, is now trying everything to not only block progress, but reverse it. Democratic leadership will pass the Manchin-approved bill and celebrate their win-- but we know better. We have to get all of these conservative Dems (including Lou Correa in my district) out of office."
You can contribute to these candidates-- all of them-- or whichever ones you choose-- by clicking on the Blue America 2022 congressional thermometer above. All of them are running grassroots campaigns. None of them are wealthy. None of them take corporate PAC money. for campaigns like theirs', there is no such thing as a contribution that is too small.
On Sunday, Ali Velshi hosted Mondaire Jones (D-NY) on his show and Mondaire explained why means testing doesn't accomplish what it purports to. "When you force people to prove that they qualify for a social program you have to create processes and an entire administration to then verify eligibility. We know that that is overly burdensome for the neediest Americans, people who... can't obtain the documentation they need... We know that universal programs are popular. There's a reason why Social Security and Medicare have withstood the test of time despite the best efforts by Republicans to roll those programs back."