- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 10, 2022

Sen. Joe Manchin III criticized the White House and fellow Democrats on Thursday for wanting to spend “trillions more of taxpayers’ money” as inflation soars to heights unseen in 40 years.  

Mr. Manchin of West Virginia, a key swing vote in the evenly divided Senate, said it is time for lawmakers to begin taking seriously the threat posed by inflation.

“There is not a corner of this nation where hard-working families are able to escape the noticeable impact of this ‘inflation tax,’” he said. “Inflation taxes are draining the hard-earned wages of every American, and it’s causing real and severe economic pain that can no longer be ignored.”

Mr. Manchin said that, with inflation rising to highs unseen since 1982, federal lawmakers need to be prudent before taking on more big spending programs.

“It’s beyond time for the Federal Reserve to tackle this issue head-on, and Congress and the Administration must proceed with caution before adding more fuel to an economy already on fire,” he said. “As inflation and our $30 trillion in national debt continue a historic climb, only in Washington, D.C., do people seem to think that spending trillions more of taxpayers’ money will cure our problems, let alone inflation.”

His comments come as the White House and congressional Democrats are pushing to restart negotiations on President Biden’s $1.75 trillion social welfare and climate change package, known as Build Back Better. The legislation died last year at the hands of Mr. Manchin over his concerns that it relied too heavily on budget gimmicks and would exacerbate inflation.

In recent weeks, Mr. Biden has pledged to break up the package and pass it in “chunks,” with the focus this year being early childhood education and climate change. The White House’s push to revive the expanded child tax credit that expired this month and free community college will be left until at least the midterm elections.

Mr. Manchin’s comments signal that even that might be too much because of the present state of inflation.

“It’s time we start acting like stewards of our economy and the money the American people entrust their government with,” he said. “Now, more than ever, we must remember it is not our money, it’s the American people’s money. It is not our economy, it’s their economy.”

The White House did not immediately return requests for comment. 

Given solid GOP opposition, the only hope Democrats have for passing Build Back Better is using a party-line procedure known as budget reconciliation. The process allows some tax and spending measures to avert the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster threshold and pass with a simple majority.

Democratic unity looks increasingly slim, given Mr. Manchin’s lingering concerns about inflation.  

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Thursday that inflation skyrocketed by 7.5% over the past 12 months. The climb in prices is the steepest since 1982.

• Haris Alic can be reached at halic@washingtontimes.com.

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