Sen. Joe Manchin said Thursday that President Biden played no role in hammering out the sudden compromise spending agreement between Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) — as Republicans and business lobbying groups warned the deal would worsen both historic levels of inflation and the recently entered recession.
“It could have absolutely gone sideways” if the White House was involved, Manchin (D-WV) said during an interview on WV MetroNews.
“I was not going to bring the president in,” the senator added. “I didn’t think it was fair to bring him in. I just think it very well could not have happened at all.”
The expansive agreement struck by Schumer and Manchin — a crucial swing vote in the 50-50 Senate — was announced Wednesday evening after the Federal Reserve hiked its benchmark interest rate by .75% and hours before the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the economy shrank by 0.9% in the second quarter after falling 1.6% in the first quarter.
The successive contractions come as the annual rate of inflation hit a 40-year-high of 9.1% in June.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the legislation — which Democrats will attempt to pass without Republican support through reconciliation, which permits them to bypass the 60-vote threshold — will only further burden American families already struggling with high food, gas and housing costs.
“Democrats have already crushed American families with historic inflation. Now they want to pile on giant tax hikes that will hammer workers and kill many thousands of American jobs,” McConnell tweeted. “First they kill your family’s budget. Now they want to kill your job too.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) lashed out at Manchin for signing onto the deal, which he said would “make every economic problem in America worse.”
“I can’t believe that Sen. Manchin is agreeing to a massive tax increase in the name of climate change when our economy is in a recession,” Graham tweeted. “I hope that common sense will eventually win the day. What I am hearing about the terms of this latest reconciliation deal make no sense.”
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said Manchin, whose opposition to President Biden’s Build Back Better Act scuttled the original legislation in December, had “flip-flopped.”
“Senate Democrats can change the name of Build Back Broke as many times as they want, it won’t be any less devastating to American families and small businesses,” Cornyn said, using the Republican nickname for the bill. “Raising taxes on job creators, crushing energy producers with new regulations, and stifling innovators looking for new cures will only make this recession worse, not better.”
Lobbying groups representing corporations focused on the plan’s 15% minimum tax on businesses that earn more than $1 billion a year in profits to help pay for the $739 billion proposal.
“Taxes that discourage investment and price controls that limit innovation will make our current economic problems worse,” the US Chamber of Commerce said in a statement. “Congress should reject these policies and focus on unleashing American made energy.”
The National Association of Manufacturers also said the minimum tax would hinder competition.
“Manufacturers kept our promises after the 2017 tax reforms, hiring more workers, investing in our communities and raising wages and benefits,” said the NAM. “Raising taxes now will hurt manufacturers’ ability to keep delivering for our people and mean fewer opportunities for Americans already worried about their financial future.”
Even with Manchin signed on, Democrats still need Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) to get on board to meet the critical 50-vote margin.
Vice President Kamala Harris would then be able to cast the tiebreaking vote if all 50 Republicans oppose the measure, as expected.
Sinema was still reviewing the agreement, her spokeswoman Hannah Hurley said.
“I would hope that she would be receptive,” Manchin told reporters on Capitol Hill Thursday before acknowledging: “With Kyrsten, I have not spoken to her about this.”
With Post Wires