The West Virginia Democrat “repeatedly timed his key attacks on Biden’s agenda to occur at events with his largest corporate donors,” according to the video.
by Kenny Stancil, Common Dreams
February 4, 2022
Although Sen. Joe Manchin’s financial conflicts of interest have been well-documented, a new video released Monday details how the timing of the West Virginia Democrat’s fundraising events may have played into his obstruction of his party’s popular economic policies.
Not only did Manchin take more than $1 million from corporate-tied PACs last year as he watered down and obstructed the Build Back Better Act (BBB), but he “repeatedly timed his key attacks on [President Joe] Biden’s agenda to occur at events with his largest corporate donors,” according to pro-worker media group More Perfect Union, which summarizes its research in the following five-minute video.
NEW INVESTIGATION: Joe Manchin received over $1 million from corporate-tied PACs last year as he blocked Build Back Better.
But Manchin’s corruption is even more brazen.
He repeatedly timed his key attacks on Biden's agenda to occur at events with his largest corporate donors. pic.twitter.com/XMrmkh9jRw
— More Perfect Union (@MorePerfectUS) January 31, 2022
“It’s more than just receiving corporate checks, though he gets a lot of those,” says the video. “Manchin executes policy decisions that corporations peddle to him and nothing exemplifies that more than the way he’s fought the Build Back Better bill for working families.”
“Time and time again at critical junctures during the debate over Build Back Better,” More Perfect Union continues, “Manchin attended corporate events in West Virginia and stood with executives to declare his opposition to working-class legislation, all while setting personal records for corporate fundraising.”
For instance, just as Congress was set to reconvene last summer to advance BBB, “Manchin threw up a giant roadblock,” states the video. Sitting with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) at an early September event at the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, Manchin claimed that it was time to “hit the pause button” on federal spending—hundreds of billions of dollars in Pentagon funding not included.
Companies in attendance that day included coal firms Dominion and First Energy, which helped Manchin—chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee—claim the title of Congress’ top recipient of fossil fuel cash this election cycle.
In addition to receiving campaign contributions from fossil fuel executives, Manchin makes nearly $500,000 per year—roughly three times his congressional salary—from investments in his family’s coal empire, raking in more than $5.2 million since joining the Senate in 2010 while refusing to answer questions about his ties to the industry.
Pharmaceutical giant Mylan—which was led by Manchin’s daughter, Heather Bresch, from 2012 to 2020—was also at the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce event in September. According to The Intercept, Bresch played a direct role in Mylan’s EpiPen price-gouging scandal during her tenure as CEO.
The event was moderated by Suzanne Clark, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Not only did the Chamber play a pivotal role in the corporate lobbying blitz that sabotaged BBB, but it also paid for “a monthslong radio, billboard, and TV ad campaign to support Manchin,” the video points out.
“Another conservative group, run by [former Vice President] Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, spent $400,000 per week on ads bolstering Manchin’s position,” according to More Perfect Union.
In an example of support he’s received from the corporate media, More Perfect Union points out that immediately after the conclusion of the event at the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, “Manchin had a column ready to be published in the corporate-friendly editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal. The Journal, meanwhile, has churned out a stream of near-daily editorials to laud Manchin and get his back.”
That early September panel in his home state was not the last time Manchin weaponized his widely debunked fears regarding what he has called the nation’s “brutal fiscal reality” to justify his effort to torpedo BBB.
While BBB originally proposed investing $3.5 trillion over 10 years to strengthen the nation’s social safety net and expand clean energy, Manchin and fellow right-wing Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) continued to chip away at the bill until they had cut it roughly in half.
Although it wasn’t until December that Manchin announced on Fox News that he “cannot” vote for BBB—abandoning his own counteroffer to the Biden White House about two weeks later—he had admitted months earlier that his goal was to get the widely criticized bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) passed first, which would give him and other conservative Democrats the leverage necessary to spoil more ambitious plans to hike taxes on the rich to fund an improved welfare state and climate action.
Manchin was the chief architect of the energy portions of the IIJA, which contains $25 billion in potential fossil fuel subsidies as well as $11.3 billion in funding that is expected to benefit his family’s coal brokerage.
When Biden signed the IIJA into law in November—after the House passed it before the Senate passed BBB, over the objections of progressives who warned that decoupling the two pieces of legislation would give corporate Democrats veto power over the stalled bill—Manchin “won the ultimate prize,” states More Perfect Union.
The new video depicts additional meetings Manchin had with top corporate donors or leaders, which were usually followed by an attack on BBB. It was while standing with anti-union Toyota executives, for instance, that Manchin in November announced his opposition to incentives that had been proposed to promote union-made electric vehicles, calling BBB’s labor provisions “un-American.”
Not long after, the West Virginia Democrat made clear his opposition to the proposed ban on offshore drilling in BBB. As More Perfect Union notes, that came just days after Enterprise Products—an oil and gas pipeline company that happened to be Manchin’s largest donor in 2021 as well as his son’s employer—”had announced that it was seeking approval to build the nation’s first offshore oil terminal big enough to serve the largest class of supertankers.”
Passing BBB through the filibuster-proof reconciliation process requires the support of all 50 Senate Democrats and all but three House Democrats.
When asked about the current status of the legislation on Tuesday, Manchin told Business Insider: “What Build Back Better bill? There is no Build Back Better bill, I don’t know what you’re all talking about.”
“It’s dead,” he added.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) suggested that Manchin was siding with “corporate America” by insisting that BBB is “dead.”
“When you have a proposal that has the overwhelming support of the American people, and it’s addressing the long-neglected crises facing working people, we cannot allow that to die,” Sanders told CNN’s Manu Raju.
“And if Mr. Manchin chooses to side with corporate America in this issue, that’s his business,” Sanders added. “But for me, and I think millions of Americans, we have got to fight for the needs of working families.”
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