Manchin ‘uncomfortable’ with mounting cost of Biden agenda

Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), a pivotal Democratic centrist, said Wednesday he is growing uncomfortable with the mounting cost of President Biden’s agenda, with the latest installment expected to cost $1.8 trillion.

Congress passed Biden’s $1.9 trillion pandemic relief proposal in March and is now weighing his $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan along with his separate $1.8 trillion American Families Plan.

The total cost of the agenda is around $6 trillion — a spending number that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago when Washington was wrangling over different belt-tightening proposals and the Bowles-Simpson deficit reduction commission was making headlines.

“It’s a lot of money, a lot of money,” Manchin told reporters ahead of Biden’s first address to a joint session of Congress. “That makes you very uncomfortable.”

Manchin has repeatedly said that he wants to pay for as much of Biden’s multitrillion-dollar infrastructure package as possible but has also expressed reservations about raising taxes.

“Are we going to be able to be competitive and be able to pay for what we need in the country? We got to figure out what our needs are and maybe make some adjustments. Who knows?” he added.

Asked if Biden’s plans need to be fully paid for, Manchin warned that “I don’t know how much more debt” the country should add.

“We’re at $28.2 trillion now, debt, so you have to be very careful. There’s a balance to be had here,” he said.

Manchin said earlier this month that he opposes Biden’s plan to raise the corporate tax rate to 28 percent and would prefer 25 percent as a target. But that by itself won’t get Congress close to raising the estimated $4 trillion needed for Biden’s two infrastructure proposals.

Sen. Jon Tester (Mont.), another Democratic centrist, said Wednesday he was initially pleased with Biden’s proposal to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to expand access to child care, prekindergarten and paid family leave.

But Tester said he wants to take a closer look at the American Families Plan to make sure it’s not overlapping with some of Biden’s other spending proposals, including the American Rescue Plan, the American Jobs Plan and the 16 percent increase Biden has called for in nondefense domestic spending.

“I think the goals are great, and I just [need to] have a look at it and see how it dovetails in with the other ones, see how much overlap there is,” he said. “To be honest with you, I’ve been like a bull running around a haystack. I haven’t had a chance to sit down. It’s going to take a little bit of time, but I like the goals.”

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said earlier Wednesday that he plans to move another budget resolution this year, which would give Democrats a pathway to passing Biden’s infrastructure bills with a simple majority vote.

But Schumer will need to keep his entire caucus unified to overcome GOP opposition in the evenly split 50-50 Senate.

Tags American Families Plan american jobs plan Biden agenda Charles Schumer Joe Biden Joe Manchin Jon Tester

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