President Joe Biden will meet with Sen. Joe Manchin on Sunday. They are working to finalize an agreement on the president’s domestic agenda. The president will talk to a moderate from West Virginia. Biden is in Delaware. The president’s meeting with the Indiana Senator will happen at a very important time for Biden, who wants to have a deal with Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema by next week.❕
Democrats think a top-level agreement is unlikely to come from Sunday’s meeting. Democrats hope that the president and two senators can work things out, but they are still kind of far apart. Joe Manchin wants $1.5 trillion, and President Trump and Democratic leaders want as much as $2 trillion after originally wanting as much as $3.5 trillion.
The slimming of the legislation is threatening what Democrats have wanted for a long time: paid leave and Medicare expansion. The problem is that progressives in the Senate refuse to sign off on getting rid of those things. If they do, then they could win Senator Manchin’s support and make a quick deal.
On Sunday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that she hopes there will be paid leave in the final package. She also noted that Medicare expansion is part of this negotiation. When asked about dental care, she said it was very expensive. Pelosi said that dental would take a little longer to implement. It will take five or six years before we can see the benefits of dental coverage. We need to find a way to fill the gap when we don’t have dental coverage.❓
In a town hall last week, Biden talked about how Manchin and Sinema want to keep Medicare from expanding. They don’t want to increase taxes for corporations or high-income people. “Joe is not a bad guy. He is my friend, and he always, in the end, has voted for it,” Biden said.
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Democrats are working with Sinema on different tax plans. These include levying a minimum tax on corporations and targeting billionaires’ assets. Pelosi suggested on Sunday that the Senate could add more money to the bill by Monday. Pelosi said, “We have other things. We have enforcement, overseas harmonization of taxes, and we have an array.” There are many things to do. On our side, we are ready with alternatives in the House and Senate and the White House. We also have plenty of alternatives.
Democrats are still fighting over the price tag, revenue, and overall policies for the legislation. So it is hard to imagine them passing it this month. Democrats hope that if they land an agreement, then progressives will be happy with what they want and will pass the $550 billion bill before our Highway Trust Fund runs out at the end of this month (before Virginia’s gubernatorial election).
Democrats were optimistic this past week about the negotiation. But Sinema is vaguer.
Senator Manchin has said the same thing every time. He is not confused because he knows what he wants to do. I disagree with some of his ideas, but I respect that Senator Sinema doesn’t always say the same thing. Why does she change her mind?