Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) further entrenched himself in opposition to the more leftward portions of Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda, saying he does not want to create “an entitlement society.”
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Manchin repeated his support for curling back tax cuts for wealthy Americans and funding aid programs that help children while rejecting what he referred to as an “entitlement society.”
“I’ve been very clear when it comes to who we are as a society, who we are as a nation, and why we are still the hope of the world,” he said. “I don’t believe that we should turn our society into an entitlement society. I think that we should still be a compassionate, rewarding society.”
According to Axios, sources confirmed that Manchin told his Senate colleagues to “pick just one of President Biden’s three signature policies for helping working families and discard the other two.”
“By forcing progressives to choose among an expanded child tax credit, paid family medical leave or subsidies for child care, Manchin is complicating any potential deal— but also signaling his willingness to negotiate,” noted Axios.
Manchin has maintained he will only support the package if the price tag does not pass $1.5 trillion.
“My number has been $1.5. I’ve been very clear,” he said.
Trying to meet him halfway, President Biden brought the number down from $3.5 trillion to $2.2 trillion, according to Axios, a move that has angered hardcore progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
“The time is long overdue for [Manchin] to tell us with specificity — not generalities; we’re beyond generalities … what he wants and what he does not want, and explain that to the people of West Virginia,” Sanders told reporters Wednesday.
Singling out both Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Sanders lamented that Democrats are fully united on the $3.5 trillion price tag, characterizing them as selfish holdouts.
“I’m not here to disparage Sen. Manchin,” Sanders said. “[But] we’ve got 48 senators who support $3.5 trillion. We have two people who don’t.”
“It is wrong, it is really not playing fair, that one or two people think they should be able to stop what 48 members of the Democratic caucus wants, what the American people want, what the president of the United States wants,” he added. “Two people do not have a right to sabotage what 48 want.”
In early September, Manchin threw a wrench into the Democrat Party’s plans with an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal arguing that the “overheating economy” just cannot endure another round of trillion-dollar spending without a clearer plan for the rocky future ahead. Since then, he has remained steadfast in his opposition to the more radical elements of the bill.