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2 maps show how bad the Obamacare time-bomb could get for Democrats if it goes off just before the midterms

Biden Schumer Pelosi
President Joe Biden speaks with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of N.Y., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., about the American Rescue Plan at the White House in March 2021.
  • Two maps underscore the steep premium hikes people will face if enhanced Obamacare aid expires.
  • Older Americans would bear the brunt of the premium increases.
  • It's unclear if Manchin will provide his support to revive a smaller party-line bill that renews the program.

Democrats are sleepwalking towards a political time-bomb that could go off immediately before voters cast their midterm ballots in November.

Last year, President Joe Biden beefed up subsidies to cut monthly premiums and make health insurance more affordable for millions of people buying individual plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). For Democrats, that was an important part of the stimulus law designed to improve Obamacare and widen access to the middle-class.

But that temporary program is set to expire if Democrats fail to revive a reconciliation bill that extends that financial assistance past the end of the year. Under that scenario, steep price hikes often totaling hundreds of dollars will hit 13 million Americans benefiting from the program during a punishing stretch of inflation.

"There's no denying that if they are not extended, then there could definitely be a political impact," Charles Gaba, a healthcare policy analyst and blogger, told Insider.

"If Congress lets the ACA premium help in the American Rescue Plan expire at the end of this year, middle-class people buying their own insurance would be hit hardest," Larry Levitt, vice president for health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, wrote in a tweet. "They could face a double whammy of inflation and the loss of premium assistance, costing thousands of dollars.

Voters would start getting notified about their premium increases in late October — just as they begin casting ballots for the November midterms. Others would learn about their insurance bill increases scheduled to kick in next year when they start browsing plans on November 1, the start of the next ACA open enrollment period.

Gaba calculated potential premium hikes using different scenarios based on age, income, marital status, and family size. He stressed that his premium figures don't represent final amounts, but serve as a range of where insurers will probably establish their rates. Below are the potential increases for a household made up of a 60-year old married couple earning $75,000:

In this scenario, a couple nearing retirement age in West Virginia would see their monthly premium soar $2,704 if  enhanced Obamacare subsidies expire, the sharpest increase in the US. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has been open to reviving pieces of Biden's agenda without committing to any specific plans and Democrats can't revive a bill without his support. He has been publicly noncommittal on renewing the program in a smaller package.

Other calamitous price increases would be around the corner in states like Georgia, New Hampshire, and Arizona — all states that Democrats are vigorously trying to defend in the November midterms. Gaba said the brunt would be felt by people earning higher incomes since they would lose access to government help.

"If you're in that situation, you'd see all financial aid removed and your net cost would increase pretty dramatically," Gaba told Insider.

There would be premium increases for younger, single Americans who are around 30 years old and earn $40,000 annually as well. But they generally pay less for health coverage under the ACA compared to their older counterparts because they'll still qualify for some financial help from the government.

Lower-income Americans with incomes less than 150% of the federal poverty level — $19,320 for singles and $39,750 for a family of four — often pay little or nothing for coverage since the federal government started picking up the tab under the stimulus law with more generous assistance. That wouldn't be the case if the program expires.

Insider reached out to four Democratic lawmakers locked in competitive races: Sens. Mark Kelly of Arizona, Catherine Cortez-Masto of Nevada, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, and Raphael Warnock of Georgia.

All but Warnock responded to a request for comment on the issue of ACA subsidies. Spokespeople for Kelly, Cortez-Masto, and Hassan generally reiterated their support to keep healthcare costs in check without mentioning reconciliation as a pathway to achieve it.

"Senator Kelly has heard from Arizona seniors and families who are struggling with rising health care costs," Marisol Samayoa, a spokesperson, said in a statement to Insider, adding he is "working to prevent an increase in insurance premiums."

Last year, 20 Senate Democrats urged Biden to make extending the Obamacare subsidies a priority in his Build Back Better plan. They included Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, another Democratic holdout who flummoxed Democrats last fall over her resistance to tax rate increases.

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Jeff Bezos steps up feud with the White House over inflation, arguing prices would rise even higher if Biden’s economic agenda passed

Close-up photos of Jeff Bezos and President Joe Biden side by side
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos; President Joe Biden
  • Bezos stepped up his attacks on the White House on Monday.
  • He assailed the Biden administration for trying to "muddy" the debate on their domestic agenda.
  • It's the latest in a back and forth between the world's third-richest billionaire and the White House.

The feud between Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and the White House is blasting off to new highs.

"Look, a squirrel!" Bezos wrote on Twitter in response to a White House statement critiquing his perspective on inflation and their domestic agenda. "They understandably want to muddy the topic. They know inflation hurts the neediest the most. But unions aren't causing inflation and neither are wealthy people."

 

He went on to say that if the administration had succeeded in passing Build Back Better, "inflation would be even higher than it is today, and inflation today is at a 40 year high." 

It's the latest entry in a back and forth between the world's second-richest billionaire and the Biden administration over skyrocketing prices. 

On Sunday night, Bezos criticized the White House's proposed Build Back Better Plan, saying that "the administration tried hard to inject even more stimulus into an already over-heated, inflationary economy and only Manchin saved them from themselves."

The White House quickly blasted Bezos right back.

"It doesn't require a huge leap to figure out why one of the wealthiest individuals on Earth opposes an economic agenda for the middle class that cuts some of the biggest costs families face, fights inflation for the long haul, and adds to the historic deficit reduction the President is achieving by asking the richest taxpayers and corporations to pay their fair share," White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement to the Washington Post.

The White House didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on Bezos's latest broadside.

The defunct $2 trillion Build Back Better plan contained a bevy of new social and climate spending to expand childcare, affordable housing, and provide monthly checks to parents among other initiatives. Democrats intended to pay for it with tax hikes on large firms and the richest Americans — people like Bezos.

Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia came out against the package at the end of last year and Democrats have been unable to pass a slimmer version so far. 

In March, inflation was at a 41-year-high. While prices cooled a bit in April, things are still 8.3% more expensive than they were last year. Some economists argue that the Biden administration's domestic agenda is capable of cooling inflation with tax increases on the super-rich.

"I think @JeffBezos is mostly wrong in his recent attack on the @JoeBiden Admin," wrote Lawrence Summers, a prominent Democratic economist, on Twitter. Summers himself has been a frequent critic of the administration's and the Fed's responses to the pandemic's economic turmoil and rising prices.

Bates also noted that Bezos' tweet came after President Joe Biden met with union organizers, including Amazon Labor Union founder Christian Smalls. Smalls was behind the drive to successfully unionize Amazon's Staten Island JFK8 warehouse — a seismic shift for the company, which previously had no unionized warehouses. 

Amazon was accused by the NLRB of "threatening, surveilling, and interrogating" unionizing workers at JFK8. 

Bezos previously chimed in on the union vote in Bessemer, Alabama, where workers initially voted against unionizing. He said he did not "take comfort" in the outcome of that vote. 

"While the voting results were lopsided and our direct relationship with employees is strong, it's clear to me that we need a better vision for how we create value for employees – a vision for their success," Bezos wrote in his 2020 shareholder letter.

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Mitch McConnell is betting Sinema’s opposition to rolling back the Trump tax cuts will sink Build Back Better’s comeback

Mitch McConnell Kyrsten Sinema
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema.
  • McConnell thinks Sinema's opposition to lifting tax rates may be enough to sink Build Back Better.
  • "Hopefully that will be enough to keep this thing underwater permanently," he said Tuesday.
  • Manchin and Sinema have opposing demands for a new spending deal, complicating things for Democrats.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell believes that Sen. Kyrsten Sinema's opposition to raising tax rates on large companies and wealthy Americans could be enough to sink Democratic efforts to revive their stalled climate and social bill.

"Sinema is unenthusiastic about tax hikes," he said at a Kentucky Chamber of Commerce event on Tuesday. "Hopefully that will be enough to keep this thing underwater permanently."

It comes as the Arizona Democrat cracked the door open to a slimmer deal in remarks at a National Federation of Independent Business tax summit last week, saying she's "always willing" to take part in negotiations. Democrats must reach unanimity to pass any smaller spending bill in the 50-50 Senate and overcome GOP opposition.

Last fall, Sinema came out against rolling back swaths of the 2017 Trump tax cuts, a key Democratic priority. That forced Biden to publicly concede the law was probably here to stay.

But that position is complicated by Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. One of his chief demands is rolling back the same law that Sinema is fighting to preserve. It's unclear how Democrats will bridge their opposing demands and get a plan over the finish line.

At the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, McConnell reached into the late 1980s for a metaphor detailing the bill's ability to spring back to life.

"Build Back Better reminds me of Glenn Close in 'Fatal Attraction,'" he said at the event. '"Every time I think it's gone, it kind of keeps bouncing back."

"I don't know if its dead yet," he said. "I'd like to smother it if I knew how to do it."

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Here are the 12 House Republicans that voted for a key piece of Biden’s stalled economic agenda on prescription drugs

Joe Biden
The House voted to cap the cost of insulin, breaking off a piece of Biden's stalled Build Back Better plan.
  • The House passed a bill to cap insulin costs at $35 per month, for people with insurance or Medicare coverage.
  • Democrats broke off a chunk of Build Back Better and some GOP lawmakers joined them.
  • Here's a list of House Republicans that supported a key piece of Biden's agenda.

The House approved a bill on Thursday to cap the cost of insulin at $35 per month for those with private insurance or Medicare starting in 2023. It's part of an election-year push from Democrats to address the rising cost of prescription drugs ahead of the November midterms — and to break off a piece of President Joe Biden's stalled economic agenda.

The vote for the Affordable Insulin Now Act was 232-193 with 12 Republicans joining every House Democrat in support. Five Republicans and one Democrat were absent.

Here are the 12 House Republicans that approved the measure:

  • Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska
  • Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania
  • Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland
  • Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington
  • Rep. Richard Hudson of North Carolina
  • Rep. John Katko of New York
  • Rep. Nicole Malliotakis of New York
  • Rep. Daniel Meuser of Pennsylvania
  • Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Iowa
  • Rep. Bill Posey of Florida
  • Rep. Christopher Smith of New Jersey
  • Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan

The measure would cap the out-of-pocket cost of insulin at $35 per month starting in 2023. It would only apply to Americans covered by private health insurance or Medicare prescription drug benefits. It wouldn't limit costs for the uninsured.

The bill is not likely to advance in the Senate in its current form, given Republicans are generally opposed to government price controls in healthcare. At least 10 Republicans would need to join all 50 Senate Democrats to clear the chamber's 60-vote threshold known as the filibuster.

The measure formed a key part of Biden's Build Back Better legislation. But the House-approved bill has gathered dust for the past three months due to opposition from Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Manchin wants a slimmer bill to limit prescription drug costs, though its unclear if that will materialize.

A bipartisan effort is underway in the Senate to try and strike a deal on restricting insulin costs. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Susan Collins of Alaska are spearheading the talks. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says he hopes to put an insulin bill for a floor vote shortly after Easter.

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Parents and lower-income Americans should expect thousands more on their tax returns this year — but the refunds won’t come until March even if you file early

Parents with young children sorting financial paperwork.
Hold onto Letter 6419 in the mail from the IRS for tax season.
  • Families can expect to receive up to $1,800 per child starting in March from the child tax credit.
  • Lower-income families are also eligible to get extra cash through the Earned Income Tax credit.
  • The money will arrive more quickly for taxpayers with direct deposit accounts set up.

The expanded child tax credit expired at the end of last year. Though families are no longer receiving direct payments, many still have a hefty sum they can receive from the IRS starting in a month.

Eligible parents will still be able to claim more money from their child tax credits. The expansion allowed families to receive up to $3,600 total for those with children five or under, and only half of the credit went out in monthly payments.

That means that some families will receive up to an additional $1,800 come refund time. Parents who received monthly checks should've gotten letter 6149 from the IRS, which tells them how much they've already received of their child tax credit — which they'll then reconcile on their taxes.

Millions of adults are also newly eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a tax credit that primarily targets lower and medium-income Americans. This year, the IRS again expanded eligibility for the EITC, allowing young childless adults to claim the break that can go up to nearly $7,000.

However, the IRS is cautioning taxpayers that, by law, they can't issue refunds for EITC or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) before mid-February. The agency said it expects the earliest those refunds will arrive is March 1 for filers who chose direct deposits and have "no other issues" with their returns.

Some filers with such issues — such as needing to file an amended return — are still waiting on refunds from their 2020 returns. As Insider previously reported, those delays have meant some Americans are struggling to pay for childcare, groceries, and even their homes. Many filers who still haven't had their 2020 refunds also did not receive any advance child tax credit payments, meaning that they're owed thousands come tax season this year.

Democrats overhauled the child tax benefit as part of the stimulus law last year, boosting its sum and transforming it into a universal child allowance. The expanded child tax credit expired in December after negotiations over the Democrats' big spending bill fell apart.

The program encountered resistance from Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who argued the program was too costly and could dissuade families from working. He came out against the House-approved plan in December and there's been little movement on a smaller bill since then.

A group of Democrats that included Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado and Sherrod Brown of Ohio said Tuesday they're still trying to convince Manchin about the benefits of the program. Manchin, however, said he wasn't involved in any formal discussions about the program or reviving other parts of Biden's stalled economic agenda.

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The last few months looked like a dismal slowdown in the economic recovery, but the newest jobs report showed they were a whole lot better than we thought

A woman wearing a face mask walks past a "Now Hiring" sign in front of a store.
A woman wearing a face mask walks past a "Now Hiring" sign in front of a store.
  • The latest jobs report shows the US economy's recovery has been steadier than previously thought.
  • The economy added 709,000 more jobs than originally reported in the final 2 months of 2021.
  • "The bottom line is that the recovery has been faster and steadier than measured," a former top Obama economist wrote on Twitter.

The US economy is steamrolling its way into a remarkable stretch of job growth.

The latest jobs report released Friday showed the economy added 467,000 jobs in January. The figure smashed forecasters' expectations of dismal growth due to Omicron infections reaching peak levels last month. Omicron's spread upended swaths of the economy, sidelining infected workers and forcing parents to deal with fresh school closures.

January's surprise beat came after two months where job growth as initially reported came in well below economists' estimates, with job reports in both November and December disappointing observers.

But January's strong hiring wasn't the only good news in the report. The Bureau of Labor Statistics revised its previous data for November and December, finding that the economy added 709,000 more jobs than previously reported, closing out 2021 with the labor market gaining steam.

The following chart shows how the revisions impacted month-over-month changes in nonfarm payrolls last year:

"January 2022 will be remembered as the month the virus ceased to be boss. It wreaked havoc & death at a terrible scale. But the economy no longer cares," Jason Furman, a former top Obama administration economist, wrote on Twitter. "People returned to the workforce. The economy added jobs. Wages rose. You would barely know it happened from the economic data."

Despite a better than expected report amid Omicron in January, a record number of workers were employed but out of work because of illness. This number was 3.6 million in January, up from 1.7 million the previous month.

BLS also made other regular annual adjustments to their previous data releases. The changes reflected how the pandemic disrupted the federal government's ability to measure the health of the economy. The agency revised figures for June and July downward, making overall figures from one month to the next seem less turbulent than they originally did through 2021.

"The bottom line is that the recovery has been faster and steadier than measured," Betsey Stevenson, a professor of public policy and economics at the University of Michigan, wrote on Twitter.

At the industry level in January, leisure and hospitality businesses experienced the largest jump in hiring with firms adding 151,000 payrolls. The sector has led the hiring recovery throughout the pandemic, largely due to the sector shedding the most jobs when the pandemic slammed into the economy.

Other revisions showed warehousing and storage as the sector adding the most jobs in recent months, per Indeed economist Nick Bunker. Wages climbed as well, though inflation continues eating into workers' paychecks. Bunker told Insider that the revisions mean "recovery has been stronger than we previously thought" and that "it's been more stark in terms of its distribution than we previously thought."

"The nice nature of this report, it was not just what happened in January, but also finding out that payroll gains were so much stronger in 2021. [It] looked like that monthly average gain in payrolls was over a half million a month, which is great to see," Bunker told Insider. "I do think it's also noticeable to see how the distribution of gains when it comes to employment changed as well. There's even more transportation and warehousing jobs than we thought and even fewer leisure and hospitality positions."

"Hopefully we can keep up this strong pace of payroll gains while also potentially seeing some more gains from some of the sectors that have been hit hardest," Bunker said. 

Insider's Ben Winck contributed to this report.

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Nancy Pelosi says ‘she’s never giving up’ on Build Back Better even after Manchin declared House package is ‘dead’

Nancy Pelosi Joe Manchin
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Joe Manchin.
  • Nancy Pelosi insists that she's not giving up on passing Biden's economic agenda.
  • "We must get something done," Pelosi said.
  • Manchin launched another torpedo at Biden's economic agenda this week.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi isn't giving up anytime soon on President Joe Biden's Build Back Better package, even as the party faces enormous resistance from Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

"I'm never giving up on BBB," she told reporters at her weekly press conference. Pelosi then listed programs like the expanded child tax credit as "really important" for Democrats to secure as part of a social and climate spending package.

She also brought up universal pre-K and expanding healthcare for families as other top priorities. "We must get something done," Pelosi said. "There are plenty of things in there that I think that we can find common ground."

But Democrats face significant challenges getting Manchin onboard, given his litany of concerns including its impact on the national debt and inflation. Manchin on Tuesday declared the House-approved $2 trillion plan as "dead" to reporters, doubling down in his opposition to the sprawling social and climate spending bill.

"What Build Back Better bill?" he told Insider. "I don't know what y'all are talking about."

Swaths of Democrats — including Pelosi on Thursday — counter that the package would be fully paid for, meaning it wouldn't grow the debt or contribute to rising cost of goods.

Manchin left the door cracked open for a future deal, but it's not clear when he could return to the negotiating table. He reiterated a broad demand on Wednesday to reporters: "Just fix the tax code."

Democrats eventually hope to pass a scaled-back version of their Build Back Better legislation — perhaps in "chunks" as Biden suggested. Yet without Manchin's vote, Senate Democrats can't approve the plan over unified GOP opposition. 

Some Democrats and influential left-leaning think tanks like the Center for American Progress are beginning to draw outlines of what could go into a skinnier package. Such measures may include additional Affordable Care Act subsidies, universal pre-K, federal funds to make childcare more affordable, and a range of climate and green energy spending measures.

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Nancy Pelosi says ‘she’s never giving up’ on Build Back Better even after Manchin declared House package is ‘dead’

Nancy Pelosi Joe Manchin
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Joe Manchin.
  • Nancy Pelosi insists that she's not giving up on passing Biden's economic agenda.
  • "We must get something done," Pelosi said.
  • Manchin launched another torpedo at Biden's economic agenda this week.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi isn't giving up anytime soon on President Joe Biden's Build Back Better package, even as the party faces enormous resistance from Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

"I'm never giving up on BBB," she told reporters at her weekly press conference. Pelosi then listed programs like the expanded child tax credit as "really important" for Democrats to secure as part of a social and climate spending package.

She also brought up universal pre-K and expanding healthcare for families as other top priorities. "We must get something done," Pelosi said. "There are plenty of things in there that I think that we can find common ground."

But Democrats face significant challenges getting Manchin onboard, given his litany of concerns including its impact on the national debt and inflation. Manchin on Tuesday declared the House-approved $2 trillion plan as "dead" to reporters, doubling down in his opposition to the sprawling social and climate spending bill.

"What Build Back Better bill?" he told Insider. "I don't know what y'all are talking about."

Swaths of Democrats — including Pelosi on Thursday — counter that the package would be fully paid for, meaning it wouldn't grow the debt or contribute to rising cost of goods.

Manchin left the door cracked open for a future deal, but it's not clear when he could return to the negotiating table. He reiterated a broad demand on Wednesday to reporters: "Just fix the tax code."

Democrats eventually hope to pass a scaled-back version of their Build Back Better legislation — perhaps in "chunks" as Biden suggested. Yet without Manchin's vote, Senate Democrats can't approve the plan over unified GOP opposition. 

Some Democrats and influential left-leaning think tanks like the Center for American Progress are beginning to draw outlines of what could go into a skinnier package. Such measures may include additional Affordable Care Act subsidies, universal pre-K, federal funds to make childcare more affordable, and a range of climate and green energy spending measures.

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Joe Manchin declared Biden’s Build Back Better plan was ‘dead.’ Here’s what could get a thumbs-up from him in a skinnier package

Schumer Manchin
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, center, and Sen. Joe Manchin, center right.
  • Democrats face an enormous challenge getting Sen. Joe Manchin onboard on Biden's agenda.
  • He said the Build Back Better plan was "dead" but cracked the door open to a future deal.
  • He's signaled willingness to strike a climate deal; here's what else could get a thumbs-up.

Democrats have an enormous challenge ahead of them as they try to convince a holdout in their party to back President Joe Biden's economic agenda.

Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia declared the House-approved Build Back Better plan "dead" on Tuesday, reiterating his opposition to a $2 trillion package aimed at expanding healthcare, childcare, and combating the climate emergency.

"What Build Back Better bill?" he told Insider. "I don't know what y'all are talking about."

He left the door cracked open for a separate deal, and Democrats eventually hope to pass a scaled-back version of their Build Back Better legislation — perhaps in "chunks" as Biden suggested. But without Manchin's vote, Senate Democrats can't approve the plan over unified GOP opposition. 

That means a whole new round of Democrats haggling to figure out what parts of their domestic agenda Manchin is willing to cast a vote for.  Some programs like the expanded child tax credit are at risk of falling out of the bill due to objections from Manchin. 

It doesn't seem likely there will be imminent progress towards a deal on a separate bill with other priorities higher up on the Congressional to-do list, including keeping the government funded and elections reform.

Here's what could get a thumbs-up from Manchin as Democrats grapple to keep top priorities in a skinnier package.

Obamacare fixes and prescription-drug price controls

obama affordable care act obamacare
In this March 23, 2010, file photo President Barack Obama is applauded after signing the Affordable Care Act into law in the East Room of the White House in Washington.

The House bill included a fresh boost of federal subsidies so people could better afford private health coverage from marketplaces established under the Affordable Care Act. It would last through 2025.

An extension of the program was part of Manchin's offer to the White House, The Washington Post reported. Many Democrats support the initiative since it would widen who qualifies for health coverage to many more in the middle class, either cutting or scrapping monthly premiums depending on their income. The federal assistance was beefed up for a year under the Biden stimulus law, and it's slated to expire at the end of 2022 if Congress doesn't step in.

Many in the party, including Manchin, also want to empower the federal government to negotiate the prices of at least some prescription drugs. Key provisions within the plan include a cap on insulin prices set at no more than $35 a month and other limits on out-of-pocket spending, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

He told reporters last week that he seeks to address "pharmaceuticals that are gouging the people with high prices," adding, "we can fix that."

Universal pre-K

Another central component of the legislation is a measure to establish universal pre-K for every 3- and 4-year-old in the US.

It's a program that Manchin previously said he's "all in" on. Part of the reason could be that this program is already a reality in West Virginia for every 4-year-old, The New York Times reported.

However, the initiative's effectiveness would hinge on whether states actually participate in it. That could be a problem due to its funding formula, which would see states picking up a hefty part of the tab to create or expand existing programs down the road. In addition, GOP states could simply opt out, The Washington Post reported. 

$500 billion in climate spending

climate change
Manchin said Democrats "probably can come to an agreement" on climate provisions.

Democrats increasingly view the Build Back Better bill as their last chance to enact sweeping measures to mitigate the heating of the planet. The US has recently experienced a spate of wildfires, strong storms, and droughts that were likely more severe due to the climate emergency. 

Much of the legislation is devoted to a series of tax credits and incentives meant to smooth the transition from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources like wind and solar power. One part of the bill sets aside funding for electric-vehicle buyers to get up to $12,500 in tax credits.

Manchin appears to favor that chunk of the bill over the rest. "The climate thing is one that we probably can come to an agreement much easier than anything else," he said on January 4. "There's a lot of good things in there."

Biden has said he believes that part of the package could be salvaged. "I think it's clear that we would be able to get support for the $500 billion plus for energy and the environment," he said last week.

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Biden says he’s ‘not sure’ that he’ll be able to renew monthly checks to parents in his big bill

joe biden joe manchin
President Joe Biden; Sen. Joe Manchin
  • Biden acknowledged that he may fail to renew the child tax credit in his big bill.
  • It amounts to a tacit admission that resistance from Manchin may force Democrats to eject the program.
  • It's unlikely that Democrats could strike a deal to renew the program with Republicans without major changes.

President Joe Biden conceded on Wednesday that the expanded child tax credit may not survive the negotiations around his $2 trillion Build Back Better bill.

"There's two really big components that I feel strongly about that I'm not sure I can get in the package," Biden said at a news conference on Wednesday. "One is the childcare tax credit and the other is help for the cost of community colleges."

He added both are "massive things" that he's campaigned on and would attempt to get them in the event both are dropped.

Biden's comments amount to a remarkable admission that he may fail to renew a program forming the center of the party's anti-poverty agenda. The child tax credit was expanded for a year under the stimulus law, which widened its reach to families who don't have to pay taxes for the first time and boosted its amount to $3,000 per kid and $3,600 for each child age 5 and under.

Congress allowed it to expire last year, though Democrats want to revive it for a year as part of their Build Back Better plan. The package has stalled out for now due to opposition from a key holdout within their ranks: Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Without his support, Senate Democrats can't muscle it through over unified GOP resistance in the 50-50 Senate and turn it into law.

Manchin has pushed attaching a work requirement on the child tax credit, a step that experts say would significantly dent its effectiveness on cutting child poverty and shut out many of the poorest families from the program. The program has slashed child poverty up to now by roughly 30%, according to the Center on Poverty and Social Policy.

Republicans are largely lined up against the child allowance, arguing that giving families checks with no strings attached discourages people from working. That hasn't shown up in studies gauging the program's effects so far.

Manchin, however, poses a formidable hurdle for Democrats because his views on the benefit are an outlier in the Democratic caucus. Congressional Democrats are mostly behind renewing the program as-is.

The conservative West Virginia Democrat slammed the brakes on the bill a month ago. But White House officials are starting to signal they will re-engage with Manchin to try and get his critical vote.

"No one has come to me on that," he told reporters on Capitol Hill before entering a room where Senate Republicans were having dinner.

Other Democrats are making clear they will continue pressing to keep the expanded program within the legislation.

"President Biden rightly celebrated the reduction in child poverty over the past year as the 'biggest drop ever in American history,'" Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado said in a statement to Insider. "It's clear that the expanded Child Tax Credit is the most significant policy for families and kids to come out of Washington in generations, and I'm fighting to extend it."

 

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