Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has told the White House the child tax credit must include a firm work requirement and family income cap in the $60,000 range, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.
Why it matters: While Manchin’s demands would dramatically weaken one of President Biden’s signature programs to help working families, they also would reduce the package’s overall costs.That would make it easier for the pivotal senator to support a final package, potentially higher than Manchin's previous $1.5 trillion top line.
At the same time, progressives would have a hard time accepting the changes Manchin is demanding.They'd also fundamentally alter a program the president funded for one year in the $1.9 COVID-19 relief package passed in March.
Manchin's office declined to comment on Axios' report.
The big picture: Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) held a call with House centrist lawmakers last Wednesday in which the senators detailed some of their specific concerns about Biden’s $3.5 trillion social spending plan. They also discussed the White House’s decision to link the package to approval of the separate $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill — a demand of House progressives.
Sinema told lawmakers she will not vote for the social spending plan until the House passes the infrastructure bill, according to Reuters. Neither Manchin nor Sinema endorsed Biden's compromise price for the social spending plan in the $1.9 trillion to $2.2 trillion range. Manchin also continues to privately tell colleagues the president’s Clean Electricity Performance Program, a cornerstone of Democrats' plan to achieve zero-carbon electricity, is a non-starter.
Go deeper: While Manchin has previously indicated he wanted progressive to pick one of Biden's three programs to help working families, he now seems more favorably disposed to policies that target families with young children in need. In addition to the pared-back CTC, Manchin is open to Biden's $450 billion plan to subsidize day care and offer free universal preschool, the people familiar with the matter told Axios. Manchin, however, wants to impose stricter income caps on the day care subsidies while keeping preschool free for everyone, as it already is in West Virginia.
The senator is less interested in the $225 billion to $450 billion paid family leave proposal or $400 billion for a new program to provide elder care, according to people familiar with the matter.
So right now we have a single US senator (or two) making the decisions for 100% of Americans, and the trajectory is permanently in a downward spiral. Every week Manchin and Sinema make a new demand, Democrats "scramble" to cut the bill, and then the goalposts get moved the following week.
The point of course, and I have been telling you guys this for months now, is for the pair to kill both bills in a way that they can blame Joe Biden and "progressives". They're getting closer and closer to that point with every massive cut to the bill. Eventually the response from Rep. Pramila Jayapal is going to be "Fuck Joe Manchin" and the game ends with the "moderates" scoring a decisive and historic win, and we all get nothing.
Now, here's the truly perverse part.
No matter how much Manchin and/or Sinema pare down the Build Back Better plan, no Republican will vote for it, no Republican will allow cloture on it, and no Republican will pay a price for blocking the bill during the final vote. They are the real villains here.
The Democrats though? They will be decimated, just like in 2010 and 2014. The end result will be most likely be Republican control of Congress.
Change my mind, please, because we're heading for the abyss here and there's little chance of coming back in my lifetime if we crumple here.