When the Senate’s most watched Democrat, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), agreed to sign onto Democrat’s new tax, energy and health care spending bill, the Inflation Reduction Act, last week, many people saw it as a reason to celebrate.
Until this point, the West Virginia Senator had been the primary wrench in Democrat’s plans to pass anything related to their top priorities, including climate change, COVID-19 relief, abortion care, and tax credits for struggling parents.
The anti-inflation bill would reduce drug prescription costs, continue Affordable Care Act subsidies for three more years, eliminate certain tax loopholes, and reduce carbon emissions.
So it’s understandable that Manchin signing on to the bill is seen by Democrats as a major step forward.
But, let’s be real here, the Inflation Reduction Act pales in comparison to the trillions of dollars allotted in the Build Back Better package, that Manchin more or less single-handedly killed in December.
Two important things missing from the Inflation Reduction Act (especially if you’re Black) are the child tax credits and the child care spending promised in the original Build Back Better Bill.
So why does this matter for Black families? Well, let’s start with child care.
Black families were massively impacted by lack of access to affordable child care during the pandemic.
Survey data from the largest recurring poll of Black Americans conducted by Black to the Future Action Fund, an advocacy organization run by Alicia Garza, found nearly 20 percent of Black adults with children reported having to leave a job due to lack of child care.
It’s hard to argue that the $400 billion in child care spending in the bill that would have created universal preschool for 3 and 4 year olds and capped child care spending at 7 percent for families earning up to 250 percent of their states median income wouldn’t have helped.
Then there’s the child tax-credits. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Build Back Better’s child tax credits would have significantly narrowed racial difference in child poverty rates. And a study from the Urban Institute, found that if the child tax credits were permanently expanded child poverty for Black Children would have fallen by more than 50 percent.
Unsurprisingly, Black adults in the Black to The Future Action Fund’s poll, overwhelmingly supported continuing the expanded child tax credits, which expired in January. Roughly 70 percent of Black adults supported continuing the expanded child tax credits for the next five years.
Getting Manchin to sign on to the Inflation Reduction Act is obviously a big win for important issues like climate change, the economy, and health care.
But, it’s hard not to at least look back in the rear view mirror at all the other policies the West Virginia Democrat has managed to kill.