Progressive coalition unveils ad to pressure Manchin on Biden spending plan

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) speaks to reporters after leaving the Capitol following a nomination vote on Thursday, October 7, 2021.
Greg Nash

A coalition of progressive groups has unveiled a “six-figure” television advertising buy to ratchet up pressure on centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to support President Biden’s multi-trillion-dollar Build Back Better agenda.

The ad is focused on an estimated 30,000 new jobs that would be created in West Virginia if Biden’s full human infrastructure spending plan passes.

The WV New Jobs Coalition, which is led by WV Citizen Action, the Sierra Club, SEIU 1199 and the West Virginia Working Families Party, announced the ad, which began airing Sunday.

It shows a montage of interviews with West Virginia residents talking about how difficult it is to earn a living in the Mountain State, where people have second-lowest per capita income in the country after Mississippi.

One of the ad’s narrators points out that 60,000 people have left West Virginia in the past five years, while another says: “Joe Manchin, we need permanent long-term jobs” and “this whole state is depending on him to do something right.”

“We’ve been phone-banking for six months now, having West Virginians connect with Joe Manchin,” said Ryan Frankenberry, state director at WV Working Families Party. “We think that right now this is the critical moment where they’re going to come some kind of agreement, we hope. And we want to push Joe Manchin … to go big and bold and to deliver for West Virginia.”

The ad campaign also includes billboard media, direct mail, digital advertising and a field canvas that kicked off Monday.

“It’s a multi-prong approach at connecting West Virginians with Joe Manchin to show him there is support for this,” Frankenberry added. “We know the polls are overwhelmingly supportive of the Build Back Better agenda.”

Gary Zuckett, executive director of WV Citizen Action, pointed to a poll of 600 registered West Virginia voters conducted in August showing that 48 percent of them supported the Build Back Better agenda while 47 percent opposed it.

The survey conducted by the Global Strategy Group increased significantly when voters are told it would be paid for by increasing taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations.

“The polling numbers really show that West Virginians overwhelming support the aspects of the Build Back Better program especially when it’s explained that they will be paid for by increasing taxes on millionaires and billionaires and making tax-dodging corporations of taxes,” Zuckett. “The pay-fors were an integral part of the support.”

The Global Strategy Group found that 70 percent of West Virginia voters support taxing the investment gains of wealthy individuals at regular income levels and 65 percent support a one-time tax on billionaires’ untaxed investment gains above $1 billion.

Biden’s spending plan would provide $2.5 billion in public investment in clean, renewable energy, which would create more than 570 jobs in West Virginia while $2 billion in transportation funding — including $1.3 billion to modernize and electrify public, school and individual transit — would create more than 1,400 jobs, for example.

An estimated 706 new jobs would come from a $764 million investment to upgrade and improve the energy efficiency of public schools and housing.

The WV New Jobs Coalition was created in December, before the outcome the two special Senate elections in Georgia, which created the 50-50 split Senate and made Manchin a major powerbroker in Washington. 

Tags Build Back Better human infrastructure Joe Biden Joe Manchin West Virginia

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