Manchin uncertain Biden plan will address inflation

Greg Nash

Centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Tuesday said that he remains worried about inflation and he’s not yet buying the argument from other Democrats that President Biden’s Build Back Better will lower everyday costs.

Manchin said he’s hearing complaints about inflation from constituents at home.

“The cost they see every day. And every day they go to fill up is a dollar and a quarter more a gallon,” he said of rising gas prices. “Three twenty-nine, $3.39.”

“A gallon of milk is now $4 in many places. It’s taking a toll. And I hear it when I go to the grocery store or if I go to the gas station. They say, ‘Are you as mad as I am?’ and I say, ‘Absolutely,’ ” Manchin told reporters, recounting his experiences with fellow West Virginians.

Asked whether he’s buying the argument from the White House that the Build Back Better Act, which would inject another $1.75 trillion into the economy, will lower inflation, Manchin expressed uncertainty about whether it makes sense.

“I really haven’t heard any specifics on that one. They say it’s going to lower [inflation]? I’ll have to check on that one,” he replied.

Manchin is viewed as the key vote needed to pass the budget reconciliation bill, which has been slimmed down from an original target of $3.5 trillion to meet the senator’s concerns about what he calls “an overheating economy.”

Senior White House officials and Democratic leaders in Congress have started to tout the budget reconciliation package as a cure for inflation, an issue that they paid little attention to earlier this year.

Democratic lawmakers for the most part have accepted Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s analysis that rising prices would be “transitory.” 

The issue took on new political urgency last week when the Labor Department reported that inflation in October hit its fastest pace of increase in 30 years as the consumer price index rose by 6.2 percent compared to a year ago. 

October also marked the fifth straight month of inflation above 5 percent. 

White House chief of staff Ron Klain told CNN following the report that the Build Back Better Act would reduce living costs.

“I think if your concern is the cost of living, it’s a concern we have here at the White House, it’s a concern Sen. Manchin shares, the Build Back Better bill is the best answer we have to bring those costs down,” he said.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) made the same argument. 

“The best way to address inflation is to pass a bill that creates jobs, reduces bottlenecks, and is totally paid for by making sure the wealthy pay their fair share. That’s just what we’re doing with the Build Back Better Act,” he argued on Twitter. 

Tags Build Back Better Chuck Schumer Inflation Joe Biden Joe Manchin Reconciliation Ron Klain spending bill

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