On Tuesday evening, Joe Biden used part of his State of the Union Address to throw a lifeline to his floundering “Build Back Better” spending bonanza plan. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) wasted no time reminding him that the agenda was dead in the water.
Biden was cautious during his speech not to use the exact phrase “Build Back Better” as the centerpiece of his campaign and the early days of his administration are now essentially toxic waste. He did refer to “my plan” a few times and listed some of the programs included in the agenda that stalled out last year in the Senate.
He expressed his desire to bring back federal programs dealing with prescription drugs, climate change regulations, child care and “fair share” taxes on corporations and the “wealthiest Americans.” He referred to his “plan” as a tool for fighting inflation, lowering costs and reducing the federal budget deficit.
Biden was reportedly interested in using his speech to specifically target Manchin as a potential supporter of his spending agenda. Politico described it as a “last-ditch effort” to get Manchin back into discussions on support for a comprehensive plan.
Even though Manchin has never wavered in his opposition to “Build Back Better,” he decided to respond again following the speech to ensure no doubt about his position. When asked about the address, he said, “They just can’t help themselves.” He added that he didn’t know where the idea of an appeal to him came from and said, “Nothing’s changed.”
When asked about specific comments on Biden’s proposals, Manchin said he has “never found out that you can lower costs by spending more.”
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) was with Manchin when he commented and interjected, “You can’t say it better than that!”
During the address, Manchin sat with Republican senators, a move his office said was a “gesture of bipartisanship.” Spokesman Sam Runyon said Manchin sat with Romney to “remind the American people” that cooperation is “alive and well” in the Senate.