Sunday, April 2, 2023

Joe Biden urges Democrats to accept Manchin’s offer and bet on climate spending

President Joe Biden on Friday urged his party to quickly pass legislation that lowers the cost of prescription drugs and health care insurance, and to shelve the rest of his economic and climate agenda in Congress for now.

It is a blow to Democrats who had hoped to crack down on climate change and expand the social safety net. But it is one made out of political necessity.

With Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) opposed to new spending to combat climate change, which he says would contribute to record inflation, and health insurance premium hikes looming this fall, Biden he was forced to accept reality and swallow a thin diet. pass a bill that would give Democrats a major legislative victory before the midterm elections in November.

The president urged passage of the legislation this month and pledged to take “strong executive action” to address the climate crisis.

“After decades of fierce opposition from powerful special interests, Democrats have banded together, defeated the pharmaceutical industry and are poised to give Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices and prevent rising health insurance premiums for millions. of families covered under the Affordable Care Act,” Biden said in a statement issued by the White House.

“Families across the country will sleep better if Congress takes this action. The Senate needs to go ahead and pass it before the August recess and bring it to my desk so I can sign it,” he added.

Drug pricing reforms would be the biggest step in decades to tackle health care costs. The proposal would require Medicare to negotiate the prices of some drugs directly with manufacturers, taking advantage of the enormous purchasing power of the social security program to squeeze savings from drugmakers.

The new proposal would also cap a Medicare patient’s out-of-pocket costs at $2,000 per year.

In addition to the prescription drug plan, Manchin also agreed to support a temporary two-year extension of Affordable Care Act subsidies to help keep health insurance costs from rising this year. Democrats worried that voters would be hit by increases in insurance premiums before the election if they didn’t take action.

“It’s not wise to do the other thing at this point,” Manchin said Friday, referring to the climate provisions Democrats are seeking.

Democrats reacted with shock and anger to news that Manchin had opposed several provisions they said he had already agreed to, at least before a historically bad consumer price spending report came out this week.

“It is outrageous and nothing short of tragic that Senator Manchin is walking away, once again, from taking essential action on climate. The world is literally burning as he joins all Republicans in stopping aggressive action to cut emissions,” Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) said in a statement.

Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Colo.) suggested that Manchin was not acting in good faith during the course of a yearlong negotiation with Democrats.

“We have made concession after concession. In response to his request, we have taken him at his word even as he continued to go back on his word. And I think we’re at a point now where we have to stop empowering this coal industry stooge to be its own branch of government,” Huffman said Friday, referring to Manchin’s close ties to the coal industry. oil and gas.

Democrats and climate activists are calling on Biden to take a series of executive actions to address climate change, including declaring a national climate emergency. It’s unclear how long he would survive the 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court, which recently overrode the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to regulate greenhouse gases.

Still, the executive actions could signal to voters, especially younger ones who already hold skeptical views of Biden, that he is committed to tackling the climate crisis.

Getting the reduced health care bill to Biden’s desk isn’t a sure thing yet, either. Democrats have a very slim majority in the House, so it only takes a few members to derail the legislation. If progressives decide to reject Manchin’s offer, the party may not pass anything before November.

Jonathan Nicholson contributed to this report.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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