Skyrocketing inflation is shaking negotiations on Capitol Hill President BidenJoe BidenBiden and Xi of China to hold virtual summit on Monday: Briahna Joy Gray reports: Biden ‘plays dumb’ with cancellation of student debt Defense and national security – Biden celebrates Veterans Day MOREThe Build Back Better agenda, giving Sen. Joe manchinJoe ManchinOvernight Energy & Environment – Presented by ExxonMobil – Manchin Criticizes New Spending Bill Provision Climate Change – Hope for How (Literally) Save the World On The Money – IRS Chief Calls for Reinforcements MORE (DW.Va.) and other centrists more leverage to push for a smaller reconciliation package.
The annual inflation rate hit a 30-year high according to Labor Department statistics released Wednesday, giving Manchin ammunition to argue against government spending.
In the wake of the numbers, Democratic advisers and strategists are becoming less optimistic that Manchin can be persuaded to support adding a proposal to establish a national paid family leave program. And Manchin may be able to push harder for new cuts.
Manchin has cited rising inflation as one of his main reasons for not supporting a social spending bill above $ 1.5 trillion, and has refrained from publicly endorsing the reduced framework of $ 1.75 trillion. dollars while studying their potential impact on the economy and prices.
“Manchin is a fiscal conservative. It always has been and always will be, ”said Mike Plante, a West Virginia-based Democratic political consultant who advised Manchin’s gubernatorial campaign in 2000.
“Their fear is that we end up going through things that are essentially not fully paid for and will kick the can down the road. [on paying for it.] And you have to show him that it is not being done ”, added Plante. “He wants to make sure that the programs that are being funded have an impact and that there are reasonable revenue streams for them and we are not just approving things for the sake of saying we did something.”
After the Labor Department reported Wednesday that the consumer price index rose 6.2 percent in October compared to a year earlier, Manchin warned that “the threat that record inflation poses to the American people is not ‘transitory’ and instead it’s getting worse. “
He had already cited inflation as a top concern in September, saying prices at Dollar General stores are going up and “that’s tough for West Virginia, a lot of people shop there.”
Democrats see inflation as a factor in Virginia’s gubernatorial race. Republican Glenn youngkinGlenn YoungkinGOP Sees Inflation as Winning Issue New Ad Campaign Targets Five House Democrats on Inflation ‘Woke Up’ discussion simmering for Democrats MORE, who defeated the democrat Terry McAuliffeTerry McAuliffeNew Ad Campaign Targeting Five House Democrats Over Inflation Discussion on the ‘Wake Up’ Issue simmers for Democrats 43 percent of Republicans in new poll oppose teaching of ‘ history of racism ‘MORE, highlighted the increase in gasoline prices in the weeks leading up to the elections by calling for the suspension of the state gasoline tax.
David Hallock, Jr., a Virginia-based Democratic consultant, said “the election showed that the voters are frustrated.”
“They don’t feel that the elected officials, who are mainly the Democrats who are in charge now, listen to them or understand what is happening on the ground,” he said.
He warned of problems ahead, asking, “What about Christmas expenses, vacation expenses? Do people realize that they are spending more than usual to get the same number of presidents on vacation? “
Even President Biden expressed disbelief over the cost of fuel on Wednesday, undermining fellow Democrats who argue that inflation is transitory and the alarm over gas prices is overblown.
“Did you ever think you would pay so much for a gallon of gas? In some parts of California, they are paying $ 4.50 per gallon! “the president wondered aloud at an event in Baltimore.
Senior White House officials and Democratic leaders now realize that the new inflation measures pose a serious obstacle to gaining Manchin’s support and are maneuvering to anticipate the nonconformist Democrat’s arguments.
White House Chief of Staff Ron KlainRon Klain: Will the Supreme Court accept the Biden vaccine ‘alternative solution’ as constitutional? Thanksgiving Disaster on the Horizon The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – The Republican Party Dealt a Blow in 2022, Look at the Troubles of the Trump Era MORE argued on CNN Wednesday that Build Back Better would help lower costs for average Americans.
When asked if the reconciliation bill is “essentially dead” due to inflation, Klain insisted: “Quite the contrary.”
“I think if your concern is the cost of living, it is a concern that we have here in the White House, it is a concern that Senator Manchin shares, the Build Back Better bill is the best answer we have to reduce those costs.” , said. CNN Jake tapperJacob (Jake) Paul Tapper Former aide: Trump would ‘absolutely’ impose some form of autocracy in second term Jimmy Kimmel questions the value of laughing at the ‘terrible’ people Manchin backs by raising the debt ceiling with reconciliation if the Party Republican resists MORE.
Senate Majority Leader Charles schumerChuck Schumer: There’s still a chance for the Democrats: If they don’t screw it up, the Republican Party delves into blocking Biden’s diplomatic selections, Sununu says he’ll decide on the Senate run ‘in the next week or so’ MORE (DN.Y.) made the same argument.
“The best way to tackle inflation is to pass a bill that creates jobs, reduces bottlenecks, and pays for itself by making sure the rich pay their fair share. That is exactly what we are doing with the Build Back Better Act, ”he tweeted Wednesday.
The Roosevelt Institute, which supports this view, argues that the Build Back Better Act would provide $ 10 billion to the Commerce Department to address bottlenecks in the manufacturing supply chain, provide billions of dollars in subsidies for the renewable energy to stabilize energy prices and provide federal assistance. for childcare to help more people return to the workforce.
Former Senator Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), A centrist Democrat who was a pivotal vote to pass then-President ObamaBarack Hussein Obama How America Can Prove It Is An Economic Player In Asia Once Again Economist Larry Summers Says The White House Misunderstood Inflation The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented By Facebook – Rising Prices Undermined Biden’s Agenda MOREThe stimulus plan during the Great Recession of 2009 said the new inflation figures give Manchin and other fiscal conservatives a solid foundation to defend a smaller reconciliation bill.
“I think it has to have an effect,” Nelson said of the inflation data in the debate over the size of the reconciliation package. “This is a warning when looking at the highest numbers in 30 years. You better watch it closely and err on the side of caution.
“I think we have to take a much more cautious approach to what the number is, where the spending is,” Nelson said of the overall size and priorities of the budget reconciliation package.
Manchin’s concerns about the economy overheating and rising inflation will raise the stakes for the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis that projects the total cost of the budget reconciliation package.
If CBO finds that the bill is substantially higher than the $ 1.75 trillion announced by the White House, Manchin and allied Democratic centrists in the House are expected to call for additional cuts.
The final CBO score may not be released until Thanksgiving week, which could delay final negotiations on the size of the bill until the first week of December.
Manchin voted for the $ 2.2 trillion CARES Act, which Congress passed at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the $ 915 billion year-end COVID relief bill passed in late 2020 and the Plan $ 1.9 billion US Ransom Bill passed by Congress. with only Democratic votes in June.
But in September, Manchin called for a “strategic pause” noting that Congress has spent $ 5 trillion over 18 months to combat the pandemic.
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed titled “Why I Won’t Support Spending Another $ 3.5 Trillion,” Manchin argued that “an overheated economy has imposed a costly ‘inflation tax’ on all working and middle class Americans. “.