‘Senator Manchin and I are going to get something done’: Biden holds out hope that Build Back Better is still alive

December 21, 2021, 10:42 PM UTC

President Joe Biden hit back against critics who say his Build Back Better Act would increase inflation in the U.S., saying on Tuesday that the bill would help families buy basic necessities like food and medicine, and that he still sees a path forward for the legislation.

“I still think there’s a possibility of getting Build Back Better done,” Biden said while answering questions from the press on Tuesday. “Senator [Joe] Manchin and I are going to get something done.”

Biden cited Senator Manchin specifically, because the West Virginia Democrat’s refusal to vote for Build Back Better cost the Democrats the ability to pass Biden’s landmark legislation this year, or possibly the chance to pass it at all. Because of an evenly-splint Senate, in which Democrats can only win because of the vice president’s tie-breaking vote, every senator counts and the party has yet to secure the 50 votes needed to pass the Build Back Better using the budget reconciliation process

There’s been a lot of talk about how the Build Back Better plan will increase inflation and cause debt, Biden said tuesday. But he pointed to the recent analysis by Goldman Sachs that actually lowered its estimates for U.S. economic output after it became clear Biden’s legislative package would not pass the Senate. 

Goldman Sachs and others said if we don’t pass Build Back Better, we’re in trouble because it’s going to grow the economy. Without it, we’re not going to grow. And what happened? Stock prices went way down—took a real dip,” Biden said Tuesday. 

Earlier this week, Manchin (D-W.V.) said he wouldn’t vote for Build Bak Better because of his concerns about its impact on inflation and the U.S. deficit. 

But experts, including U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, have previously said the effect of the legislation on inflation is minimal. “As Secretary Yellen has said, the Build Back Better Act, which includes the advanceable Child Tax Credit, will lower costs for families and meaningfully reduce childhood poverty. As the Act is fully paid for over 10 years, and makes long-term investments, it is not expected to add to inflation pressures,” a Treasury spokesman told Fortune.

If you’re earning $60,000, $80,000 or even $90,000 and you’re worried about inflation, you should be, Biden said Tuesday. “It’s devastating to people working class and middle class folks, it really hurts.”

Yet he pointed out that the Build Back Better Act would help more families afford childcare and offset the price spikes in gasoline and food through the enhanced child tax credit, Biden said, adding that he’d like to see the sweeping social legislative package also help with healthcare and drug prices. 

“All the things in that bill are going to reduce prices and cost for middle class and working class people. It’s going to reduce their costs,” Biden said Tuesday.

In the U.S., for instance, about 200,000 kids are currently diagnosed with Type I diabetes, according to Biden. And that can be a significant drain on a family’s financial resources. “It costs somewhere between 10 cents and $10 to come up with a formula [for the insulin]. You know what it costs on average? $640 a month, up to $1,000 a month,” Biden said. 

“What do you do if you’re a mom and a dad working minimum wage, busting your neck? You look at your kid and you know if you don’t get that drug for them, if they can’t take that, what happens? They may go into a coma and maybe die. I don’t want to put kids’ lives at stake,” Biden added. 

“I’m not joking about this. Imagine being a parent looking at a child. You can’t afford [the drug]. You have no house to borrow against. They have no savings. It’s wrong,” he said. 

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