Why Sen. Joe Manchin Opposes Biden’s $3.5T Spending Deal
With the national debt sitting at $28.7 trillion, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin (WV) is urging fellow Congressmen to think twice before supporting President Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending package.
“Some in Congress have a strange belief there is an infinite supply of money to deal with any current or future crisis, and that spending trillions upon trillions will have no negative consequence for the future. I disagree,” wrote Manchin in an op-ed published by The Wall Street Journal.
The federal government has already spent more than $5 trillion responding to the pandemic, notes Manchin. “Instead of rushing to spend trillions on new government programs and additional stimulus funding, Congress should hit a strategic pause on the budget-reconciliation legislation…A pause is warranted because it will provide more clarity on the trajectory of the pandemic, and it will allow us to determine whether inflation is transitory or not.”
We can’t ignore the “fiscal consequences of our policy choices,” he continued, adding that a pause would give lawmakers time to better assess the economic situation and the implications a multi-trillion dollar spending package holds for the next generation of Americans.
What happens if there is another pandemic, terror attack, or international conflict? How will the nation be prepared to respond if we “needlessly spend trillions of dollars today?” asks Manchin. “I, for one, won’t support a $3.5 trillion bill, or anywhere near that level of additional spending, without greater clarity about why Congress chooses to ignore the serious effects inflation and debt have on existing government programs.”
Already, experts warn that Medicare benefits could start to dwindle as soon as 2026; and for Social Security, 2033.
“I have always said if I can’t explain it, I can’t vote for it, and I can’t explain why my Democratic colleagues are rushing to spend $3.5 trillion,” wrote Manchin.
With zero support from the Republican Party, Senate Democrats will need to use the budget reconciliation process to pass the bill. And because the Senate is evenly split, they will need Manchin’s vote to succeed. If Manchin convinces Democrats to decrease spending in the interest of preserving a stable economy, he could wind up becoming an ally of Republicans frustrated by Democrats’ attempts to attach liberal priorities such as tuition-free college and amnesty for illegal immigrants to the spending deal.
As expected, progressive Democrats balked at Manchin’s moderate stance and accused him of opposing his party’s efforts to expand child care, paid leave, affordable housing, and healthcare to constituents.
“I wish that I could hit your mute button, but here we are,” said Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), to Manchin.
In his op-ed, Manchin admits the spending package isn’t designed to improve the economy but to “re-envision America’s social policies.” He even criticized his own party for using budget reconciliation after it lambasted Republicans’ use of the same process to pass the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
“At a time of intense political and policy divisions, it would serve us well to remember that members of Congress swear allegiance to this nation and fidelity to its Constitution, not to a political party,” concludes Manchin. “By placing a strategic pause on this budgetary proposal, by significantly reducing the size of any possible reconciliation bill to only what America can afford and needs to spend, we can and will build a better and stronger nation for all our families.”
Senate Democrats have until September 15th to finish drafting the spending deal.