Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is drafting a dramatically scaled-down counterproposal to President Joe Biden's Build Back Better Act that would likely include reforms to the tax code and lower prescription drug costs, The Hill reports.
The report comes after Biden, in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, tried to resuscitate his plan in a last-ditch effort to get Manchin back to the negotiating table.
''There's not a proposal, there's just a conversation,'' Manchin said of informal talks with White House officials. ''It just makes all the sense in the world. The one thing that we as Democrats all agreed on was the 2017 tax cuts were weighted unfairly.
''So, if you want to fix the tax cuts and make everyone pay their fair share, whether it's the very wealthiest or the corporations that pay nothing — I think the president identified that last night — then you have to fix the tax code.
''Then you find out what revenues you have from that if you fix it.''
''The other thing that we should all agree on is the high pharmaceutical prices, so you allow the negotiations. And I just said the organization that does the best job is the VA, the veterans administration gets some of the lowest prices. Maybe we should look at them and let them basically do [that] for our Medicaid and Medicare [recipients],'' he said.
Although Biden didn't use the phrase ''Build Back Better'' in his speech, he discussed much of what had been laid out in the agenda.
But Manchin quickly poured cold water on those plans.
''They just can't help themselves,'' Manchin told Alex Bolton of The Hill after the speech when asked about Biden trying to revive the key elements of the BBB. ''I don't know where that came from.
''Nothing's changed. That was a little bit far.''
Asked if there are ''any pieces of'' the plan that he could see passing, Manchin told reporters, ''not until you get your financial house in order can you do that. It just keeps adding up and up. To me, it’s all about inflation.''
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