Senator Joe Manchin again holds a pivotal vote in determining the fate of another one of President Joe Biden’s big initiatives.
Biden has proposed a $2.3 trillion infrastructure bill, and often Democrats and Republicans can agree on big spending on roads and bridges.
But this time it is different.
Biden’s plan goes well beyond brick and mortar projects and spends billions to combat climate change and to redirect the nation’s energy production and consumption on to a greener path.
It also includes $400 billion for so-called “human infrastructure,” spending on rebuilding the economy to benefit individuals who are struggling to make ends meet on a day-to-day basis.
The pay-for includes raising the corporate income tax from the current 21 percent to 28 percent, and this is where the politics get tricky.
Manchin opposed President Trump’s 2017 tax cut. He thought reducing the maximum corporate rate from 35 percent to 21 percent was too steep a cut.
And now, faced with the possibility of a tax increase, Manchin believes the 28 percent rate is too high.
“I think corporate should have been at 25 percent,” Manchin said, adding that tax loopholes that allow the wealthiest to avoid paying taxes should be closed.
“As the bill exists today, it needs to be changed,” he said. “That’s what legislation is all about. This bill will not be in the same form as you have seen it introduced.”
Manchin says he is not alone in his opposition to the proposal as it is crafted now.
“There are six or seven other Democrats that feel strongly about this,” Manchin said on Talkline Monday. “Also, Republicans can’t just be against everything.”
Washington news media jumped on the Manchin interview. Fox News called Manchin’s opposition to the 28 percent corporate rate a potentially “fatal blow to a key revenue raiser included in the infrastructure initiative.”
Manchin is one of the more moderate Democrats in the Senate and with the 50/50 split, his support is vital to advance any Democratic plan.
“If I don’t vote to get on it, it’s not going anywhere, we’re going to have some leverage here,” Manchin said.
Biden promised a presidency much different from his predecessor. He would be more bipartisan in crafting legislation and unifying the country. Biden has continued to talk about bringing Democrats and Republicans together, but his actions to date have not reflected that.
An infrastructure bill and a mechanism to pay for it would be a good place for him to follow through on his pledge. Joe Manchin finds himself, once again, in the unique position of helping to make that happen through the art of compromise.