Redemption? Joe Manchin gets on board with Dem effort to gut Trump tax cuts

West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin is seeking to repair his damaged reputation within his party by joining an effort to tear the guts out of one of former President Donald Trump’s signature accomplishments: Broad-based tax cuts.

The Washington Times reported that Manchin has told Democratic colleagues that their division over President Biden’s “Build Back Better Act” shouldn’t be viewed as him being opposed to all big policy changes. Instead, he said the defeat of the measure actually presents an opportunity for his party to focus on a few other priorities, one of which, Manchin says, ought to be a repeal of Trump’s tax cuts that also benefitted West Virginians.

“The only reason I even voted to [advance the Build Back Better Act] was to fix the tax [system] so that everybody paid their fair share,” Manchin said. “The ultra-wealthy, the corporations that weren’t paying anything, everyone should pay their fair share.”

Since the 2017 tax cuts passed without any Democratic votes, Manchin believes there is a good opportunity for the party “to claw back from taxpayers,” the Times reported.

“If you’re going to negotiate, then negotiate,” he said. “Don’t start picking and choosing and playing games.”

Manchin became the target of his party’s ire after he refused to support the BBB legislation after saying that it relied on budgetary gimmicks in order to allow Democrats to claim it was paid for when it wasn’t. In addition, he was concerned that another multi-trillion dollar government spending spree would only make already high inflation worse.

But “despite killing the bill, Mr. Manchin has worked overtime to assure Democratic lawmakers that portions of the White House’s agenda are still plausible before the 2022 midterm elections,” the Times reported.

He has informed his colleagues that before considering increasing spending via a revamped BBB bill the party should first repeal Trump’s tax cuts so that Democrats will be able to calculate just how much they can spend on expanding government handouts.

But like Build Back Better, repealing the cuts via reconciliation will require all Democrats to support it in the 50-50 Senate, and it’s not clear that all of them would.

“Earlier this year, Democrats attempted to repeal a large portion of the Trump tax cuts in the Build Back Better Act. The proposal included hiking the income taxes on top earners and raising the corporate tax rate from 21% to 25% — still lower than the pre-Trump high of 35%,” the Times noted.

But the effort was opposed by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, another moderate Democrat who got the White House to support tax hikes outside of corporate and personal increases.

She won that battle, however, as the White House summarily supported a “wealth tax” on individuals making more than $10 million annually as well as a 15 percent flat tax on corporate profits.

“This proposal represents a commonsense step toward ensuring that highly profitable corporations — which sometimes can avoid the current corporate tax rate — pay a reasonable minimum corporate tax on their profits, just as everyday Arizonans and Arizona small businesses do,” Sinema said at the time.

In an interview with the Times, Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, called it a “pipe dream” think that now Sinema would support corporate and individual hikes after standing firm against them before. He also noted that she backs some tax increases that Manchin does not.

“She’s on record as saying her line in the sand is not raising rates,” Norquist said. “I don’t know how Manchin thinks this will work out, it will just lead to a back and forth with each proposing taxes the other won’t support.”

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Jon Dougherty

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