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The Limits of Joe Manchin’s Conservatism

Senator Joe Manchin, recent subject of a Two Minutes Hate for torpedoing the “Build Back Better” legislation, approached the White House yesterday to lay out a framework for future domestic-policy negotiations. From the New York Times this morning: On Tuesday, Mr. Manchin went to the White House and put forward his own outline for the […]
The Limits of Joe Manchin’s Conservatism

Senator Joe Manchin, recent subject of a Two Minutes Hate for torpedoing the “Build Back Better” legislation, approached the White House yesterday to lay out a framework for future domestic-policy negotiations. From the New York Times this morning:

On Tuesday, Mr. Manchin went to the White House and put forward his own outline for the domestic policy plan, which included money for universal prekindergarten, child care and some environmental provisions, but did not include the one-year extension of the child tax credit, according to people familiar with the offer.

That Manchin is willing to sign on to limited climate-initiative funding, child care, and universal pre-K is in keeping with a Monday Washington Post report on his private offer to the White House. It also reveals the limits of Manchin’s Blue Dog posture.

In several reports, Manchin’s aides indicated that the senator supports the child tax credit but wants it to include a work requirement for recipients. The Times reports that Manchin is nevertheless concerned about the cost of the program and, according to the Wall Street Journal, has worries about the moral hazards involved.

There’s no getting around it: The child tax credit is expensive. It would cost $1.5 trillion dollars over ten years if made permanent and fully refundable. While that figure is large—and I realize in making this point I’m going to sound a lot like the most insufferable people you know—it is a fraction of what America is projected to spend on defense in the coming decade, which totals over $7 trillion. The child tax credit appears to have contributed significantly to recent declines in childhood hunger and poverty. If conservatives are serious about making it easier for Americans to raise large families, the child tax credit is one of the best policy tools at their disposal.

Manchin’s support for universal pre-K and child-care are concerning for social conservatives. Of the three-headed hydra of universal prekindergarten, subsidized child care, and the child tax credit, the latter was far and away the most defensible policy and the one least injurious to the aims of social conservatives.

You sound like a nut when you say it out loud, but universal pre-K is almost guaranteed to move an entire generation of children to the left. It is hard to think of a surer path to social upheaval than turning hordes of small children over to agents of the state whose federal funding is contingent on teaching children the racial and sexual dogmata of high-church progressivism. If you think colleges are effective in brainwashing kids, wait until the education majors from Berkeley are teaching your three-year-old about gender identity.

On child care, note the way prominent progressives speak about the issue. Elizabeth Warren said creating a universal, federally funded child care regime was urgent, because “too many mamas and daddies today are getting knocked off the track and never get back on,” with the “track,” of course, being slavery to Mammon. At Slate, Jordan Weismann said “One of the better arguments for providing child-care services—as opposed to straight cash payments to parents, as some policy wonks have proposed—is that encouraging women to stay in the workforce will create future economic gains.” The universal child-care program is a way to remake the structure of the American family, normalize and subsidize two-income households, and ensure that young children are spending as much time as possible around right-thinking progressive functionaries instead of their (potentially reactionary) parents.

It’s fine to worry about the costs of these programs amid rising inflation, but Manchin’s reported counter-offer suggests he either hasn’t thought through their social implications or he doesn’t care.

 

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