What We Lose if We Don’t Build Back Better

I’ll leave the savvy political analysis to others. I don’t know why Senator Joe Manchin apparently decided to go back on an explicit promise he made to President Biden. Naïvely, I thought that even in this era of norm-breaking, honoring a deal you’ve just made would be one of the last norms to go, since a reputation for keeping your word once given is useful even to highly cynical politicians. I also don’t know what, if anything, can be saved from the Build Back Better framework.

What I do know is that there will be huge human and, yes, economic costs if Biden’s moderate but crucial spending plans fall by the wayside.

Failure to enact a decent social agenda would condemn millions of American children to poor health and low earnings in adulthood — because that’s what growing up in poverty does. It would condemn millions more to inadequate medical care and financial ruin if they got ill, because that’s what happens when people lack adequate health insurance. It would condemn hundreds of thousands, maybe more, to unnecessary illness and premature death from air pollution, even aside from the intensified risk of climate catastrophe.

I’m not speculating here. There’s overwhelming evidence that children in low-income families who receive financial aid are significantly healthier and more productive than those who didn’t once they become adults. Uninsured Americans often lack access to needed medical care and face unaffordable bills. And studies show that policies to mitigate climate change will also yield major health benefits from cleaner air over the next decade.

As an aside, it’s not clear how many Americans realize the extent to which we’re falling behind other nations in terms of meeting basic human needs. For example, I still keep running into people who believe that we have the world’s highest life expectancy, when the reality is that we can expect to live between three and five fewer years than citizens of most European countries.

There are also, by the way, large and growing gaps between U.S. states. In 1979 life expectancy in West Virginia was only about 14 months shorter than in New York; by 2016 the gap had widened to six years. And yes, Manchin’s home state would benefit immensely from the social spending its Democratic senator seems determined to block.

The weakness of the U.S. social safety net also has economic consequences. It’s true that we still have high gross domestic product per capita — but that’s largely because Americans take far less vacation time than their counterparts abroad, which means that they produce more because they work more hours. In other ways we lag. Even before the pandemic, Americans in their prime working years were less likely to be employed than citizens of Canada or many European countries, probably in part because we don’t help adults stay in the work force by providing child care and parental leave.

But can we afford to make our lives better? One answer is that other rich countries seem to manage it just fine. Another answer is that Manchin’s objections to the proposed legislation evaporate under scrutiny.

Manchin asserted that the Congressional Budget Office determined that the cost of the bill is “upwards of $4.5 trillion.” No, it didn’t. That was a Republican-demanded estimate of outlays — not the considerably smaller impact on the deficit — under the assumption that everything in the legislation would be made permanent, which isn’t what the bill says. And if Congress did vote to extend programs like the child tax credit, it would probably also vote for revenue offsets. The budget office analysis of the legislation as actually written — which found it roughly deficit-neutral — is a much better guide to its likely fiscal impact than this rigged hypothetical.

As for Manchin’s claim that we have a “staggering” national debt, maybe it’s worth noting that federal interest payments as a percentage of G.D.P. are only half what they were under Ronald Reagan, and that if you adjust for inflation — as you should — they’re basically zero.

What about inflation? The proposed spending in Build Back Better is spread over multiple years, so it wouldn’t do a lot to raise overall demand in the near term — the first-year addition to the deficit would be just 0.6 percent of G.D.P., which isn’t enough to make much difference to inflation in any model I know. Besides, the Federal Reserve has just made it clear that it’s ready to raise interest rates if inflation doesn’t subside, so government spending should matter even less.

As I said, I’m not going to try to analyze Manchin’s thought processes, and I’ll leave it to others to speculate about his personal motives. What I can say is that the letter he released to explain why he said what he said on Fox News doesn’t read like a carefully worked-out policy statement; it doesn’t even read like a coherent ideological manifesto. Indeed, it feels rushed — a grab bag of Republican talking points hastily trotted out in an attempt to justify his abrupt betrayal and to portray himself as a victim.

Sorry, but no. America — not a senator who’s taking heat for a broken promise — is the victim in this story.

Krystal Ball: Docs REVEAL Manchin’s Crime Family PROFITS off Misery & Death

Krystal provides a rundown of the corruption and criminal activity that has occurred in the Manchin family, especially in the sales and distribution of lifesaving treatments by pharma companies

Unearthed Joe Manchin Clip Proves He’s Full Of Crap

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Unearthed clip proves that Democratic Senator Joe Manchin is not against big spending, even though he claims to be now.

 

Manchin said in June that he was for spending $2, 3, 4 trillion on infrastructure but has changed his mind (presumably because his donors are against it).

Senator’s daughter who raised price of EpiPen got $19 million salary, perks in 2015

This isn’t the first time Mylan chief executive Heather Bresch has been under fire.

Bresch, who started out in a low-level position in quality control at one of the company’s factories, is the first female head of a large pharmaceutical company. She made a name for herself by turning the EpiPen — once an obscure injection device for allergy sufferers that she calls her “baby” — into a blockbuster billion-dollar drug. But the 47-year-old has found herself in the hot seat in recent weeks as consumers and lawmakers have expressed outrage over the rising cost of the drug and have called for investigations into the company’s pricing practices.

While the mounting attacks may be enough to unnerve even the hardened chief executive, Bresch has a longer history than most of dealing with such issues and coming out (mostly) unscathed.

In fact, Fortune, in a tough profile, once described her career as being full of “ethically messy mishaps and public relations gaffes.” At least two involve her own father, Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va.

The most scandalous incident occurred in 2008 shortly after she was named the company’s chief executive and involved the master’s degree in business administration from West Virginia University that was listed on her resume. It turns out she never got it. An investigation by the school, prompted by a newspaper report, found that some administrators had added courses and grades to her transcript to make it look as if she had completed the required coursework.

The incident made headlines across the state because her father was governor at the time and the school’s president, Mike Garrison, was a longtime family friend and former business associate.

The controversy blew over quickly for Bresch, and she remained chief executive, but Garrison and a slew of other administrators resigned from their positions following expressions of no confidence from students, faculty and alumni.

In 2015, Bresch caused another firestorm when she merged Mylan with a company in the Netherlands. The transaction is known as a “tax inversion” and involves joining with a foreign entity to move a legal corporate headquarters abroad. Doing so provides a major advantage: trading U.S. corporate taxes, which at 39 percent are among the highest in the world, for a tax bill from a different country that is presumably less.

Such moves are so unpopular with the American public that only a handful of U.S. companies have attempted them. Members of Congress — including her father — denounced such tactics as undermining the U.S. economy.

Then there’s the matter of Bresch’s salary and other perks, which are unusually high, even in this era of crazy compensation for company executives.

“EpiPen prices aren’t the only thing to jump at Mylan,” NBC News reported. According to Securities and Exchange Commission filings, Bresch’s total compensation went from $2,453,456 to $18,931,068 from 2007 to 2015. That’s a striking 671 percent increase. That period coincides with the time when Mylan acquired the rights to EpiPens and steadily hiked the average wholesale price from about $55 to $320.

A standard 2-pack now costs between $600 to $700. The price has prompted outrage among many consumers who have taken to social media to complain that they can no longer afford the potentially lifesaving medicine.

“A trip to the ER is now cheaper. HOW CAN THIS BE??” one woman tweeted on Wednesday. Actress Mia Farrow weighed in: “Grandchild w severe allergies needs life saving #Epipen. Cost has soared. Luckily we can pay the $600. Impossible for many scared parents.”

The contrast between Bresch’s lavish lifestyle — her signature designer five-inch stilettos for example — and those of ordinary families struggling to afford the drugs her company sells is a theme that has come up again and again.

While many companies have curbed the use of company aircraft for personal business or required executives to provide reimbursement, Mylan has continued to allow Bresch to use one. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported earlier this year that her corporate jet use hit $310,312, including both personal and business trips.

Another Mylan executive, Robert J. Coury, was called out by The Wall Street Journal in 2012 for having a side business that is a record label that promotes his son’s music career and for taking the jet frequently to cities that coincided with his son’s concerts.

Exxon oil lobbyist in sting video identifies 11 senators ‘crucial’ to its lobbying

A senior official with U.S. oil and gas giant ExxonMobil was captured on video revealing the identities of 11 senators “crucial” to its lobbying on Capitol Hill, including a host of Democrats.

The footage was obtained by Unearthed, an investigative unit of environmental group Greenpeace UK, which posed as headhunters to obtain the information from Exxon lobbyist Keith McCoy.

Among the senators listed as allies, McCoy calls Joe Manchin the “kingmaker” on energy issues because of his status as a Democrat representing West Virginia, a key natural gas-producing state. McCoy says he speaks with Manchin’s staff every week. Manchin is also chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

BIDEN CAN’T PLEASE ANYONE WITH MOVES ON PIPELINES

McCoy also named Sens. John Barrasso of Wyoming, the top GOP member of the Energy Committee, and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, the Republican ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee.

Other lobbying targets of Exxon include centrist Democrats Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Jon Tester of Montana.

McCoy also singles out Sen. Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat, as an important contact because of his close relationship with President Joe Biden.

Other Exxon contacts are up for reelection in 2022, McCoy notes: Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire and Mark Kelly of Arizona.

McCoy also name-checks traditional Republican allies John Cornyn of Texas, Steve Daines of Montana, and Marco Rubio of Florida.

In the leaked video, McCoy also suggested that Exxon is only publicly supporting a carbon tax to appear to be environmentally friendly with little consequence because it sees the policy as politically impossible to pass and thus unlikely to affect the company. Exxon is one of many large oil and gas companies and their lobby groups that have endorsed the concept of a carbon tax as preferable to mandates and regulations.

“I will tell you, there is not an appetite for a carbon tax. It is a non-starter. Nobody is going to propose a tax on all Americans,” McCoy said. “And the cynical side of me says, ‘Yeah, we kind of know that. But it gives us a talking point. We can say, ‘Well, what is ExxonMobil for? Well, we’re for a carbon tax.’”

Among other revelations, McCoy acknowledges Exxon “aggressively” fought against climate science in the past to protect its oil and gas business and joined “shadow groups” to push back against the science underpinning global warming.

“We were looking out for our investments. We were looking out for our shareholders,” McCoy said.

And he claims that Exxon lobbied Congress to limit climate provisions in infrastructure negotiations over Biden’s American Jobs Plan and to focus on roads and bridges.

“If you lower that threshold, you stick to highways and bridges, then a lot of the negative stuff starts to come out,” McCoy said. “Why would you put in something on emissions reductions on climate change to oil refineries in a highway bill?”

Exxon CEO Darren Woods issued a statement Wednesday afternoon condemning the lobbyist’s comments and apologizing for them, specifically those “regarding interactions with elected officials.”

Woods stressed Exxon’s “firm commitment” to supporting carbon pricing to address climate change.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER

McCoy posted his own apologetic statement declaring himself “deeply embarrassed” and saying his comments “clearly do not represent ExxonMobil’s positions on important public policy issues.”

They’re using the Yes Minister 4-stage strategy. They’re betting that Stage 4 (see below) won’t be reached until theyve had a lifetime of profiteering and profligacy, and – they THINK – setting up their OWN offspring to survive.
“Yes Minister” 4-Stage Strategy:
1. Nothing is about to happen
2. Something may be about to happen, but we should do nothing about it
3. Something is happening, but there’s nothing we CAN do
4. Maybe we could have done something, but it’s TOO LATE NOW