Save Build Back Better Act from corporate Democrats holding it hostage
The hostage-takers: Sens. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Joe Manchin, D-W. Va. | J. Scott Applewhite / AP

In the name of protecting corporations and billionaires from fair taxes, two corporate Democrats are holding the fate of America’s families—from seniors to children—in their hands.

The budget reconciliation bill now being held hostage by Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema would make it possible for every kid in the United States to go to pre-school. It would provide families with $300 a month for each child. It would fund two years of community college for every student. And it would expand Medicare to cover glasses, dental work, and hearing aids. It would provide 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. It would pay for measures to combat climate change, such as retrofit credits and a Civilian Climate Corps.

The Build Back Better Act is also “a jobs bill for the future,” according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The Civilian Climate Corps alone would open up 1.5 million jobs, and hundreds of thousands of new care workers and educators will be employed.

Build Back Better would pay for all this by reversing the tax cuts and  giveaways that Trump and the Republican Party handed out to corporations and the richest 1% in 2017.

If it passes, the Build Back Better Act will be the core of Biden’s legacy as president. And if it fails, right-wing members of his own party will be to blame. | Susan Walsh / AP

Polls show well over 70% of the American people back such measures. But there are powerful forces lined up against letting this bill ever become law. Sen. Bernie Sanders has eloquently pinpointed them: “Big Oil, Big Pharma, and the corporate titans who dominate our political system.”

These elements of the ruling class can always rely on the Republican Party and its leaders to oppose any and all increases of corporate taxes, but due to the 50-50 split in the Senate, Mitch McConnell and his cabal can’t, on their own, defeat the Build Back Better Act.

That’s why it all comes down to holding the senators and representatives elected on the Democratic Party platform together in this fight and not losing a single vote. This is where Manchin and Sinema enter the picture. They claim to be experiencing “sticker shock” over the reconciliation bill’s $3.5 trillion price tag and say cuts are a must.

Few these days mention the fact that the bill now under consideration is already a “compromise” from the $6.5 trillion that progressive lawmakers were originally proposing. Fewer still do the math and point out that the true annual cost of the Build Back Better Act—when you stretch out its total over the ten years it covers—is just $350 billion. That’s only one-third of what the United States spends on its military and war budgets each year.

Manchin and Sinema were elected to represent millions of West Virginians and Arizonans. But ask them exactly which workers or groups of poor people they want to screw with their cuts and you’ll get few answers. But let’s take a look at their actions—and their campaign bank account deposits—to see whom they really represent.

Manchin is supposed to be working for the people of West Virginia, but he made $500,000 in 2020 from dividends from his son’s coal company—three times more than his Senate salary. ExxonMobil, Tellurian Gas, and other energy giants have showered him with hundreds of thousands in political contributions. And his daughter’s pharma company, Mylan (the folks who hiked the price of EpiPen medication from $124 to $609), also sent a few hundred thousand dollars the senator’s way.

As for Sinema, she’s even more openly corrupt. As the bill which would benefit millions of Americans nears a vote, she scheduled a fundraiser this week with some of the biggest corporate lobbyists opposing it. She’s charging them as much as $5,800 per person for 45 minutes of her time.

The big-money influence machines are pulling out all the stops to block tax hikes on corporations and the wealthy, and Manchin and Sinema are out to earn their political dollars.

President Biden is reportedly applying pressure on these mis-labeled “moderates” in an attempt to preserve as much of the Build Back Better Act as possible. It’s named for his 2020 campaign slogan and would, without a doubt, be the biggest legacy of his presidency if passed.

The Poor People’s Campaign, led by the Rev. William Barber, is leading the charge to pressure Manchin and Sinema to buck their corporate sponsors and vote in favor of the Build Better Act. Here, Barber speaks during a rally, Aug. 26, 2021, at the state Capitol in West Virginia, Manchin’s home state. | John Raby / AP

But without pressure from the outside, the instincts of Biden and the Democratic Party leadership will be to “compromise” with Manchin and Sinema in the hopes of passing something… anything, really.

That’s why Congress has to be hammered with phone calls, petitions, texts, lobbying visits, and protests demanding that the reconciliation bill be passed as is with no further cuts. The Poor People’s Campaign is leading the charge, with its constant demonstrations, open letters, and public awareness events.

Every reader and supporter of People’s World has to step forward now and help hold the line.

If this bill doesn’t pass, there won’t be another chance to achieve such far-reaching change anytime soon. The working class of this country will have lost out to the big wallets of the corporate class and their paid voices in the Senate. As Rev. William Barber has said, “This is no game for poor and low-wage people.”

Furthermore, the Republicans will use this failure to paint Biden as a weak leader and the Democrats as a divided party incapable of governing. Connect that message with the rampant and racist Republican voter suppression efforts around the country and you’ve got a formula for disaster in 2022, 2024, and far beyond.

The time to act is now. Save the Build Back Better Act.

* CALL your member of Congress at 202-224-3121.

* SIGN the Communication Workers’ petition to Congress.

* ADD YOUR NAME to the letter telling Speaker Pelosi to hold the line against Manchin and Sinema.

* JOIN a Poor People’s Campaign action in your state, city, or town.

* INITIATE a march, protest, or resolution with your union or community group.

* WRITE about actions in your area and share with People’s World.


People’s World Editorial Board
People’s World Editorial Board

People’s World Editorial Board: Editor-in-Chief John Wojcik, Managing Editor C.J. Atkins, Social Media Editor Chauncey K. Robinson, Senior Editor Roberta Wood, Senior Editor Joe Sims, Copy Editor Eric A. Gordon, Washington D.C. Bureau Chief Mark Gruenberg