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Sinema, Manchin Refuse to Commit to Build Back Better: Higher Taxes and Spending Hurt Economy

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Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia continue to refuse to commit to supporting the Build Back Better legislation.

The House of Representatives passed the centerpiece of President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda last month in a 220 to 213 vote, with no Republican support and one Democratic defector.

The $2.2 trillion spending bill would launch multiple new and expanded entitlement programs such as universal pre-K; expanded child tax credits to $3,000 or $3,600 per child (for those 6 or under), per year ($300 per month); paid family and medical leave; increased coverage under the Affordable Care Act; and rental assistance payments.

The New York Times reported the single largest piece of the legislation is $555 billion for climate change programs.

Additionally, the House version of the bill increases the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 26.5 percent.

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The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, passed under former President Donald Trump lowered the rate from 35 percent, the highest in the industrialized world, to its current 21 percent.

Sinema has been making clear for months that she opposes a tax increase on businesses.

CNN’s Lauren Fox asked the lawmaker in an interview that aired Thursday if Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have not been taking her position seriously, given that they have been promising a corporate tax hike will be included.

“I don’t really spend much time thinking about what other people are saying publicly,” Sinema responded.

“And people back home in Arizona know that I am committed to ensuring that any legislation we pass retains America’s competitiveness,” she added.

“I won’t support any legislation that increases burdens on Arizona or American businesses and reduces our ability to compete either domestically or globally,” the senator said.

Further, she stated that the legislation should be crafted “in a lean and efficient way that’s fiscally responsible and doesn’t impact things like inflation or make our businesses less competitive.”

Under Build Back Better, the average combined federal and state corporate tax rate would be 30.9 percent, the third-highest in the industrialized world, according to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation.

This new combined rate would take the U.S. from slightly above China’s 25 percent to well above it.

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Manchin’s concerns about Build Back Better focus on the spending side of the legislation.

CNN reported the West Virginian “still has a number of concerns, namely that budget gimmicks hide the true cost of the bill, and he’s pushing to ensure it costs no more than $1.75 trillion.”

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“But he also is seeking to pare down the bill, which passed the House last month, in a number of other areas — including paid family leave, a methane fee on emissions from energy producers and a Medicare expansion to cover hearing costs. And he’s seeking changes to some of the provisions in the tax title of the bill, one of the sources said.”

“Debt and inflation are a big concern for me,” Manchin told CNN. “Basically we should pay for what we’re doing.”

If Schumer put the bill on the floor now in its current form, the senator said, “I wouldn’t have any idea how I’m going to vote until I walk in.”

With the 50-50 Senate party split, a “No” vote from either Sinema or Manchin would sink the bill.

A Democratic source told the news outlet the likelihood of a Senate version of Build Back Better passing this year is “20-25 percent.”

A Morning Consult poll conducted last month found 49 percent support the legislation, and 38 percent oppose it, while 13 percent had no opinion.

However, a plurality of voters, 43 percent, said the spending package would make inflation worse, compared to 26 percent who thought it would make it better, and 15 percent who believed it would have no impact.

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