Democrats can’t afford to let that happen again. But they’re setting themselves up for it. As of right now, one of the most popular provisions in BBB—giving Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices down—doesn’t start until 2025. The new cap on insulin costs at $35 a month for people with insurance doesn’t start for 2023. More generous prescription drug coverage under Medicare Part D doesn’t start until 2024.
Coverage for hearing care under Medicare doesn’t start until 2023. Four weeks of paid family and medical leave doesn’t start until 2024, if Manchin lets it remain in the bill at all. The expansion of home- and community-based care for elderly and disabled people is pushed back until 2025. So is universal pre-K, which gives Republican states plenty of time to rail against it and boycott it, just like they did Medicaid expansion.
Meanwhile, Republicans are helping Manchin sabotage the whole thing. South Carolina senator and Trump caddy Lindsey Graham asked the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to score a phantom BBB bill—to pretend like none of the provisions in it ever expire and there aren’t any mechanisms to pay for the programs—and got a score of $3 trillion added to the deficit over the next 10 years. It’s nonsense, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer were quick to point out.
“The Republicans are so desperate to justify their opposition to the popular, much-needed provisions in the Build Back Better Act that they’ve resorted to requesting fake scores based on mistruths,” Schumer said in an emailed statement. “The Republican-requested fake CBO score does not take into account the fact that President Biden and Democrats have committed that any extensions of the Build Back Better Act in the future will be fully offset, therefore ensuring BBBA will not increase the deficit,” he continued. “CBO has confirmed to my office—and I expect them to make public this afternoon—that Republicans did not include this important fact in their request, further showing the GOP’s fake CBO score request is nothing more than a partisan attempt to mislead the public.”
Pelosi was scathing. “While Republicans play increasingly desperate and bad-faith political games with a phony score of an imaginary bill, House Democrats have proved our commitment to fiscal responsibility by passing a fully paid for Build Back Better Act,” she said. “Congress and President Biden have made clear: any future extensions of the life-changing provisions of Build Back Better will be fully paid for, as they are today. Until then, Democrats are forging ahead with the Build Back Better Act to create jobs, lower everyday costs and cut middle-class taxes.”
That this whole phony exercise was created solely for the benefit of Manchin was proved by Graham.
It incredibly just might work, because Manchin has proven himself wholly capable of embracing and espousing the most bullshit “evidence” Republicans (see Manchin and “inflation”) can manufacture to justify his ongoing efforts to block his party’s and his president’s signature plan.