How Sen. Manchin’s “No” on BBB hurt NC and the Black community

Joe Manchin
Sen. Joe Manchin

By Cash Michaels

December 28, 2021 10:00PM
Cash Michaels
Cash Michaels

When conservative Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia announced on Fox News Sunday this week that his would be a “no’ on Pres. Joe Biden’s almost $2 trillion Build Back Better social spending legislation, it was more than just a loss for Biden and Manchin’s fellow Democrats.

North Carolina, and specifically the African American community lost big as well. Part of the problem was that for all that was touted by Democratic elected officials, much of the public really had no idea what was in BBB, or how parts of it benefited them specifically.

That made it easier for Republicans to oppose, and Sen. Manchin to dismiss as just more liberal spending.

“Joe Manchin has been a liar all the way, “said an outraged Rev. Dr. William Barber on Twitter Monday, referring to the over five months Manchin spent negotiating with the White House over the BBB. “The only way to deal with him is to expose him. And let his own people, low-wage workers, and religious leaders [in West Virginia] do it.”

Rev. Barber
Rev. Barber
Dr. Barber, co-convener of the national Poor People’s campaign, and president of Repairers of the Breach, has met with the millionaire West Virginia senator who sometimes lives on a yacht, when he voted against passage of the $15 per/hour minimum wage legislation earlier this year.

Barber blasted conservative minister Franklin Graham when he praised Manchin for “putting the American people first,” and was furthered angered by a report that said Manchin was afraid that BBB would allow poor families to buy drugs with their child tax credit money.

It was Vice President Kamala Harris who came to Charlotte on Dec. 2nd, touting how, if the U.S. Senate followed the U.S. House in passing BBB, it would help reduce the high cost of healthcare, childcare, and address climate change in a meaningful way.

For North Carolina specifically, if passed. BBB meant millions toward the funding of childcare and preschool programs for the next six years, limiting child care costs to no more than 7% of income for families with children younger than 6, and making less than $300,000.

The North Carolina Justice Center reports that the average North Carolina family spends an estimated 25% of its income on childcare.

Per the child tax credit, 92% of North Carolina children under 18 years old (over 2 million children statewide) would benefit from the proposed expansion of the COVID-19 Relief Act, which expires at the end of this month. Approximately 137,000 children in the state under 18 would have been lifted above the poverty line.

Sen. Manchin’s home state of West Virginia ranks 46th out 50 states when it comes to the “economic well-being of its children,” reports MarketWatch.

Indeed, West Virginia is a poor state.

Per health care and senior care, BBB would have expanded Medicare to cover hearing devices for 1.9 million aging NC residents.

There would have also been an annual $2,000 cap on how much seniors on Medicare’s prescription program would have paid out for medicine.

BBB would have allowed four weeks of paid family and medical leave.

Even though North Carolina is one of 11 states that did not expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, BBB would have allowed 650,000 more North Carolinians to enroll.

In terms of education, all ten of North Carolina’s historically Black colleges and universities would have benefited from $10 billion allotted by BBB for HBCUs nationwide.

Per affordable housing, BBB would have renovated or built over 1 million housing units nationwide and in North Carolina, as well as helped with rental and house down payments.

When it comes to the African American community, BBB would have helped Black farmers, many of whom struggle to stay in business and need debt relief; addressing gun violence and violence prevention in the Black community; removing old lead piping in urban communities that have proven to cause illnesses in low wealth communities; and the expansion of high speed internet access and broadband capacity in poor and rural communities.

But now, thanks to Sen. Joe Manchin, none of these prospects will become reality with a now dead Build Back Better bill.

“The legislative process is messy and often disappointing, but the worst thing we can do is lose our will to work for the American people,” said Congresswoman Adams in a statement Monday. “We can’t let the Grinch steal Christmas.”

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