Manchin ‘Uncomfortable’ Over Rising Cost of Biden Legislative Plans

April 29, 2021 Updated: April 29, 2021

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), a crucial moderate Democrat, has expressed reservations over the mounting costs associated with implementing President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda.

His comments come after Biden unveiled a $1.8 trillion plan to expand educational opportunities and child care for families, dubbed the American Family Plan. The plan is expected to be funded by an increase of the top individual tax rate from 37 percent to 39.6 percent for taxpayers in the top 1 percent of income.

The White House is also proposing to raise the capital gains tax rate to 39.6 percent for households making more than $1 million.

The latest proposal follows Biden’s $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan that is still being debated by Congress and a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief plan that has since been enacted. The three packages expand social welfare programs and would total about $6 trillion.

“It’s a lot of money, a lot of money,” Manchin, who is seen as a key swing vote in a 50-50 Senate, told reporters on Wednesday. “That makes you very uncomfortable.”

Manchin on Sunday indicated that he favored a more targeted infrastructure package and has previously said that he does not support Biden’s plan to raise the corporate tax rate to 28 percent, arguing instead that a 25 percent hike was more preferable.

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

He also raised concerns over adding to the already burgeoning debt.

“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.

Democratic Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) shared similar concerns, telling reporters that although he was initially pleased by the recent proposal, he would like to take a closer look at the American Families Plan to make sure any measures in this plan are not overlapping with other spending proposals.

“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.”

Meanwhile, a key Republican, Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said on Wednesday that Biden’s legislative proposals need to be curbed.

“In his first 100 days, he’s asked for $100 trillion in spending,” Romney told reporters on Wednesday, without explaining how he came up with the $100 trillion figure. “To put that in context, our total federal budget that we vote on every year is $1.4 or $1.5 trillion.”

“So it’s a massive amount of spending. So I think maybe if he were younger I’d say his dad needs to take away the credit card,” he added.

Republicans have already rejected the Democrats’ $2.25 trillion infrastructure proposal, expressing concern over the price tag. Instead, a group of Republican lawmakers has offered a $568 billion infrastructure counterproposal that is expected to focus more on a traditional concept of “infrastructure.”

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has already suggested that he would not back Biden’s infrastructure plan. He characterized the proposal as “another multitrillion-dollar smorgasbord of liberal social engineering.”

“It’s being sold as a serious effort to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure. It’s a pretty brazen misdirection. At both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, Democrats have chosen to live in an alternate universe where both the campaign promises they made and the mandate the American people delivered were completely different than what happened here on planet Earth,” he told the Senate floor on Wednesday.

During his speech on Wednesday evening, Biden touted the passage of the $1.9 trillion pandemic stimulus bill, which cleared the Senate without the support of a single Republican. He also praised the American Jobs Plan calling it a “blue-collar blueprint to build America.” He said that independent experts estimate it will add millions of jobs and trillions of dollars in economic growth in the United States for “years to come.”

“These are good-paying jobs that can’t be outsourced. Nearly 90 percent of the infrastructure jobs created in the American Jobs Plan don’t require a college degree. 75 percent don’t require an associate’s degree.”

Isabel Van Brugen contributed to this report.

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