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Manchin summoned Reagan's ghost with his cruel Build Back Better remarks

Sen. Joe Manchin reportedly thinks Americans are slackers who can’t be trusted with federal aid provided by President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., apparently thinks people in his state and across the country are too irresponsible and untrustworthy to receive much-needed aid outlined in the Build Back Better plan

Echoing Republican talking points, Manchin has told his Democratic colleagues he thinks parents would use the child tax credit payments provisioned in the bill to buy drugs, HuffPost reported Monday. NBC News later confirmed the report.

The expanded child tax credits Congress approved earlier this year are essential to stem child poverty, but Manchin is reportedly trying to cut an extension of the payments from the Build Back Better bill. 

Manchin also told fellow lawmakers he thinks people would abuse Democrats’ proposed policy for paid sick leave to fake being sick and go on hunting trips, according to HuffPost.

Sen. Joe Manchin speaks to members of the media outside of his office on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. on Dec. 13. Sarah Silbiger / Bloomberg via Getty Images

These are ironic claims coming from Manchin. He’s a wealthy coal baron who’s consistently passed policies that benefit him and his family. If anyone should be accused of getting high on the government’s supply, it’s him.

Nonetheless, with his generalizations of impoverished Americans, Manchin channeled the ghost of former President Ronald Reagan, another cruel conservative who thought Americans were too hedonistic to receive federal aid. Reagan, of course, is known for helping usher the term “welfare queen,” a racist stereotype, into conservative rhetoric. 

Americans desperately need the aid Manchin is blocking, and now we know a critical reason why he is doing so.

This fictitious country full of poor grifters looking for a quick buck isn’t confined to the Republican imagination: Even some Democrats, like former President Bill Clinton, foolishly saw the deconstruction of social programs benefiting the poor as a boon for the country. His 2006 op-ed bragging about “ending welfare” is evidence that conservative ideology guides many Democrats, as well. And Manchin’s reported comments are further proof that these toxic views have metastasized.

Democrats don’t have many options to make Manchin budge on his Build Back Better obstructionism, but rhetorically, his cruel comments may be a gift in disguise. 

Progressives can use his obsession with fraud — and his slanderous way of expressing it — to draw an even clearer distinction than they have between the austerity conservatives want to impose and the socially responsible future progressives want for the country. 

Child care costs are rising, housing costs are rising and new coronavirus variants are making the future of work increasingly uncertain. Americans desperately need the aid Manchin is blocking, and now we know a critical reason why he is doing so: He doesn’t trust them with their own tax dollars.

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