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Joe Manchin Ruins Yet Another Shot at Addressing Climate Change, Taxing the Rich

Joe Manchin has an uncomfortable small smile, standing outside in front of trees.

Once again, Senate Democrats are on the verge of passing meaningful legislation addressing the climate change crisis, only to have Joe Manchin pull that Charlie Brown football out from under them and kill the whole thing.

Seven months ago, Manchin singlehandedly killed Joe Biden’s ambitious Build Back Better spending package. This new package was supposed to be a more Manchin-friendly version but after months of negotiating, Manchin has reportedly gotten cold feet in just the last few days. According to the Washington Post, he told Democratic leadership Thursday that he couldn’t support any new spending on climate issues or tax increases on corporations and the mega-wealthy—even though he’s apparently been insisting for months that fixing the tax code is a priority for him.

“To win over Manchin, Democrats already had agreed to surrender their most prized spending proposals, from offering paid family and medical leave to providing child care, free prekindergarten and tax benefits to low-income Americans,” writes the Post. They’d also sacrificed pretty much every aggressive tactic to address the climate crisis, focusing now on things like tax credits and other incentives for cutting carbon emissions rather than punishments for massively destructive corporate offenders.

But Manchin now says he can’t justify the spending in the bill because of current inflation issues.

“Political headlines are of no value to the millions of Americans struggling to afford groceries and gas as inflation soars to 9.1 percent,” Manchin’s spokeswoman told the Post. “Senator Manchin believes it’s time for leaders to put political agendas aside, reevaluate and adjust to the economic realities the country faces to avoid taking steps that add fuel to the inflation fire.”

Yes, the price of groceries and gas are economic realities a lot of people are struggling with right now. But so are things like childcare and health care costs, along with so many other things included in this package that Manchin is refusing to support.

It is once again entirely clear that Manchin never had any intention of supporting this package, since he’s not just refusing to compromise on Democrats’ demands but even choosing not to support the things he’s claimed are his own priorities. And that’s because he’s only ever really had one priority, and that’s keeping that sweet coal industry money flowing into his own pockets.

(via Washington Post, image: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.