While he’s been playing a conservative when it comes to energy and the federal budget, Sen. Joe Manchin proved again last week that he’s still very much a Democrat, as he certainly has the hypocrisy down pat.
The West Virginia Democrat surprised virtually everyone when it emerged last week that he and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) had been holding secretive talks about a brand-new spending measure with a price tag nearing $750 billion after thwarting such massive spending for nearly a year over fears that it would worsen inflation.
But for some reason, while inflation soared to 9.1 percent in June — and is expected to remain high in July — Manchin, who got a little fossil fuel love in the bill for his home state, suddenly changed his mind. And now he’s trying to defend his budgetary treachery.
The Daily Wire reports:
Appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Manchin said he had not stopped negotiating with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on a spending package. He claimed that the so-called “Inflation Reduction Act” does not stoke the fires of inflation or raise taxes but takes measures to lower inflation and closes a loophole in the tax code.
“We have been working and negotiating off and on very quietly because I didn’t know if it would ever come to fruition,” Manchin said of the negotiations. “I didn’t want to go through the drama that eight months ago that we went through for so long thinking we would negotiate, get close, it fell apart, this and that.”
“Never could get there on the Build Back Better,” he continued. “It was too much. I never could get there. On this one here, we started in April and kept working and working and working and back and forth, and all of a sudden, inflation went from 6 to 8.1 to 9.1, and I said, ‘hey, Chuck, listen, we better wait and see what’s coming in July, numbers come in August before we do anything more.’ And that was the point of where we had been talking and negotiating.”
“To Chuck’s credit, our staffs kept talking. We didn’t know if we would get there or not. But the bottom line was we reduced it and scrubbed it clear down to [$739 billion]. Nothing inflammatory in that piece of legislation,” he claimed.
He also said that the measure won’t increase taxes, though several prior reports claimed otherwise.
“We should not increase taxes, and we did not increase taxes,” he said. “That’s what we scrubbed out… The only thing we have done is basically say that every corporation of a billion dollars of value or greater in America should pay at least 15 percent minimum corporate tax… Most businesses and all corporations that I know pay 21 percent. So that’s not a tax increase, it is closing a loophole.”
Most. But not all. So for those that don’t currently pay 15 percent, they’re going to get a tax increase. Verbal gymnastics.
Manchin then went on to defend the rest of the bill.
“It gives us a strong fossil energy that is going to produce the cleanest forms of fossil energy in the world,” he said. “That’s carbon reduction, when you’re replacing the dirtiest oil right now that is going into the climate and atmosphere. That’s something we can do. You are producing in America, we become energy independent, you’re going to reduce because of supply.”
“Next of all, we paid $300 billion down on debt. The first time in 25 years that we have ever done this. Next of all, we’re reducing $288 billion in drug prices because of what we’re doing. This is a bill that basically does everything,” Manchin added.
Is it a done deal, though? Not quite.
POLITICO added last week: “There’s still significant concerns to be dealt with over whether it can meet chamber rules for avoiding a filibuster, and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) hasn’t signed off yet.”