Build Back Better Against People Like Joe Manchin

Joe Manchin claims that the $3.5 Build Back Better Act would create an “entitlement society.” Yet it is the wealthy who are entitled to pay lower tax rates than poor and middle class citizens.

Manchin is one of the 4% of “moderate” Senate Democrats, along with Kyrsten Sinema, who blocks the bill’s passage. Late last week, Manchin said that he would accept only one of the three major family-related social programs in a very-trimmed-down $1.5 Reconciliation Bill. Unless he is convinced otherwise, progressive and actual moderate Democrats will have to decide to gut two of these initiatives: expanding child tax credits, paid family medical leave or subsidized child care.

Each of these programs would help make families stronger. Yet few conservative politicians ever actually cared about families. Their focus was always more on divisive issues that gave Fox News and radio talking heads high ratings: guns, abortion, war and, more recently, overt nativism. Though GOP politicians have traditionally talked about family values (admittedly, though, this kind of talk has been absent recently – for obvious reasons), their true values have always synchronized with those of large corporations.

If indeed Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema were actual moderates, they are only moderate compared to a GOP that unsuccessfully tried to overthrow the democratically-elected US government. Some Republicans, like Mitch McConnell and Lindsay Graham, who had the temporary courage to condemn the coup attempt and those who fueled it, submitted to the white supremacist wing of the party soon after, including through blocking a bipartisan investigation of the Capitol riot. Manchin and Sinema are moderates only if the overtly white supremacist wing of the GOP is now mainstream – which, to an extent, it is.

What will the hostage taker, Manchin, who imbibes coal and other fossil fuel money like an alcoholic swilling down whiskey, force the Democrats to give up from Build Back Better? The ability to get paid leave when sick or after childbirth? How obscene a thought! How entitled! However, 71% of Americans and 63% of Republicans support this “entitlement.” It may make one wonder: what are fossil fuel companies entitled to after they pour tens of thousands into Manchin’s campaign?

Or will it be subsidized child care that Manchin and Sinema force their own party to gut, which would help families send their kids to daycare so they can enter the workforce. Did the GOP or purported “moderate” Democrats ever consider that this program would probably reduce families’ needs for other types of public assistance? Expanding the child tax credit would reduce this need as well, through offering a lump sum that could also be used for child care, and healthy food, rather than heavily relying on inept food stamps.

Democrats have to use all the power they can, arm-twisting and the like, to pass Build Back Better. Because very soon, due to extremely effective propaganda yielding collective delusion, Democrats may lose both the House and Senate – leaving Biden to have to primarily negotiate with politicians who supported his overthrow.

The silver lining, though, is if Build Back Better becomes law, in-full, the socio-economic precarity of Trump/GOP supporters will decrease. Their vitriol towards immigrants, minorities and Democrats will likely diminish, because much of their basic needs-related problems will be mitigated – which, when all is said and done, may tilt them away from the GOP for years to come.

As a prolific author from the Boston area, Peter F. Crowley writes in various forms, including short fiction, op-eds, poetry and academic essays. In 2020, his poetry book Those Who Hold Up the Earth was published by Kelsay Books and received impressive reviews by Kirkus Review, the Bangladeshi New Age and two local Boston-area newspapers. His writing can be found in Middle East Monitor, Znet, 34th Parallel, Pif Magazine, Galway Review, Digging the Fat, Adelaide’s Short Story and Poetry Award anthologies (finalist in both) and The Opiate.

His forthcoming books, due out later in 2023, are That Night and Other Stories (CAAB Publishing) and Empire’s End (Alien Buddha Press)