Joe Manchin all but shuts the door on supporting Biden's social plans like universal pre-K and affordable childcare

Joe Manchin all but shuts the door on supporting Biden's social plans like universal pre-K and affordable childcare
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Joe ManchinDrew Angerer/Getty Images
  • Manchin all but ruled out backing Biden's social spending agenda.
  • Instead, he wants any social policy changes to attract Republican votes.

Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia all but closed the door on reviving swaths of social spending from the defunct Build Back Better legislation, ensuring any Democratic bill will be far smaller in scope.

"There's not a Build Back Better revival," he told reporters on Tuesday. "These major social changes should go through the process. That's what the process is for."

"You have to build consensus," he said. Manchin wants any social policy changes to attract Republican support and reach 60 votes in the Senate to overcome a filibuster. Democrats only have 50 votes in the upper chamber.

The conservative Democrat is expressing fresh interest in cutting a climate deal with Republicans and reviving the barest components of President Joe Biden's economic agenda. He has kept the door open for now on a reconciliation bill that includes slashing the deficit, cutting prescription drug prices, and rolling back the 2017 GOP tax cuts.

Manchin has been a major roadblock in moving social spending forward. He repeatedly threw cold water on paid leave last year, a Biden administration priority, and extending monthly checks to parents through the expanded child tax credit.


His remarks could amount to the final nail in the coffin for other initiatives like affordable childcare and universal pre-K. As recently as Friday, Biden pushed capping childcare spending for families as a way to cut rising costs.

One thing Manchin does support: Tax hikes on corporations and assets being sold off by wealthy Americans. Manchin told reporters that he wants the corporate tax rate hiked to 25%. That tax on big businesses was slashed from 35% to 21% under former President Donald Trump's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. President Joe Biden proposed raising it to 28%, but Manchin has stood firm at 25%.

Manchin also still eyeing an increase to the capital gains tax. Currently, capital gains — assets like stocks or real estate being sold off — are taxed at a far lower rate than income. For the ultra-wealthy, who derive most of their net worths from assets, that means their income is taxed at a lower rate than many Americans taking home a paycheck.

Manchin still wants to raise the capital gains tax rate to 28%. He recently shot down a proposal from the White House to target billionaires with a minimum income tax that included unrealized capital gains, or increases in the value of assets before they're sold.

However, any moves to increase taxes will likely be shot down by fellow centrist holdout Senator Kyrsten Sinema. Sinema, a Democrat from Arizona, has repeatedly nixed any tax hikes.


Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia told reporters on Tuesday "it's not easy" to reconcile the contrasting positions of the holdouts.

With time running short before the November midterms, some Democrats are starting to concede the party will be making some big sacrifices to get a smaller package over the finish line.

"The difference for me, social investments can be accomplished later," Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, a climate-focused Democrat, said in a brief interview. "There's a different nature to getting climate right now than there is to getting childcare right now."