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Acting like a mouthpiece for the Democrat Party, on Sunday CNN’s Jake Tapper pressed moderate Dem. Joe Manchin about why he’d sought to temper Democrats’ ostensible coronavirus relief bill with some common-sense restrictions.
What made Tapper’s line of questioning troubling wasn’t so much the question itself as it was how he framed it.
“So after changes that you pushed for, enhanced federal unemployment benefits now expire about a month earlier, and there’s a new income cap for writing them off on your taxes,” he began.
So far, so good.
“I have to say, you represent one of the lowest income states in the nation. Why were you fighting for less help for citizens during this cruel economic time?” Tapper then asked with unnecessarily dramatic language.
According to Newsweek, on Saturday the West Virginia senator convinced his Democrat colleagues in the Senate to reduce weekly federal employment payments from $400 to what they’ve been since the second coronavirus bill in December, $300.
“[$400] doesn’t incentivize people. It’d be awful for the doors to open up and there’s no one working. You got a lot of customers, no one working. That’s the problem,” Manchin reportedly told reporters at the time.
Indeed, because of all the unemployment benefits that were doled out by the first Trump-era coronavirus bill last spring, a large number of employees were temporarily laid off at the start of the coronavirus pandemic later refused to return to work.
Watch Manchin’s response to Tapper’s line of questioning below:
Responding to the first part of the CNN host’s question, the West Virginia senator explained that his goal had simply been to ensure that the unemployment benefits offered by the bill are more targeted this time.
“All I did was try to make sure we were targeting where the help is needed. Right now we’re giving $300 to people who’re unemployed by no fault of their own. I want that to continue seamlessly,” he said.
Manchin then addressed the cap.
According to Forbes, a deal he reached with his peers on Friday will “provide a tax break of $10,200 to those on unemployment benefits in households making less than $150,000 a year.” The “less than $150,000 a year” stipulation wasn’t part of the original plan.
“When we put the cap on, Chuck, we’ve never given — this is the first time we have ever allowed for tax deduction from unemployment benefits. And basically to be fair for the people out there working all the time, paying their share of taxes, that was something we were concerned about also,” he said to Tapper.
“So we limited it to $150,000. We capped it that anybody over $150,000 could not use that offset. Anybody below it that’s struggling and working in the middle class is able to do that. That was a fair compromise. We worked through that and got it done.”
After briefly correcting Manchin’s mistake — he’d referred to the CNN host as “Chuck” — Tapper noted that the senator had “forced the Senate to stay up all night voting” with his last-minute demands for some common-sense restrictions.
“How much pressure were you under, and what did President Biden have to say to you?” he then asked.
Manchin responded by saying he and Biden are friends and that the president had told him to never go against his convictions.
“I always appreciate that encouragement, and we work very well together. Working with all of my other friends back and forth, Jake, you know, sometimes can be challenging, but the bottom line is what it’s about negotiations,” he continued.
“I work with my Republican friends. I work with my Democrat caucus and my friends. We try to find that middle. Sometimes it gets a little frustrating at times, but the bottom line is at the end result we got one tremendous piece of legislation.”
His rhetoric about negotiations was dubious, however, because the ostensible coronavirus relief bill wound up passing the Senate on a strictly partisan vote.
Moreover, Manchin and his Democrat colleagues rejected every single amendment that Republicans tried to propose, no matter how reasonable.
‘Enough is enough’: Cruz proposes stimulus funds go to student scholarships if states won’t open schools https://t.co/rzHwq9lKkT pic.twitter.com/a8pkHoXES1
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) March 6, 2021
Manchin’s claim about the bill being a “tremendous piece of legislation” was also questionable considering all the troubling provisions that still remain.
As previously reported, the bill provides incarnated inmates with stimulus money, pays out a “bailout for bureaucrats,” expands Obamacare and funds environmental justice grants, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the National Endowments of the Arts and Humanities.
In fact, the majority of the bill funds pet Democrat causes, from a bridge in Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s district to a subway sought by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s allies in Silicon Valley.
Less than half of the $1.9 billion pertains to the coronavirus, and far less than that is to actually be provided as direct relief to the American people, ergo why Republicans have gotten in the habit of calling the bill “The Pelosi Payoff.”
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