As anyone paying a modicum of attention knows, West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin has been one of the central Democratic obstacles to enacting Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan. Unlike his enigmatic colleague Kyrsten Sinema, Manchin has been vocal about the parts of the sprawling bill he dislikes. But while his opposition to a billionaires tax, paid family leave, and a comprehensive plan to fight climate change are well-known, he has also killed the chances for several even more popular but lesser-publicized proposals. A short list below.
1) Ending spam calls about your car’s warranty.
It seemed like a no-brainer. Every Democrat in the House and Senate was on board with a plan to fund an FCC effort that promised once and for all to put a stop to irritating unsolicited calls that flood Americans’ cell phones every day.
Every Democrat except one.
“I just don’t feel comfortable punishing hardworking American spammers for their innovation,” Manchin said in a statement last week. “If anything, we should be rewarding them.” Despite a 99 percent approval rating from the public, the proposal was axed.
2) Giving every American a free chocolate chip cookie.
In an effort to win over the politically disengaged, Democrats had partnered with Mrs. Fields to provide a complimentary warm chocolate chip cookie to every resident in the country (paid for with a 0.00001 percent tax on Jeff Bezos’s 2020 income). The contracts were in place, and the logistics of preventing people from acquiring two cookies all worked out. But Manchin signaled his disapproval in August, citing a concern that too many Americans would become dependent on sweets. His counteroffer proposed a third of a cookie per American or a maximum of four Dippin’ Dots, but the plan was rejected as unworkable by Senate leadership.
3) Banning Christmas music in public places before Thanksgiving.
“I love Christmas music all year round,” Manchin told reporters on Monday. “I’m a man without a party on this one.”
4) Retracting Crash’s 2006 Best Picture win.
It was widely regarded as a travesty when Crash, a mawkish and simplistic treatment of prejudice in America, beat out unassailable classic Brokeback Mountain for Best Picture. If anything, the decision looks even worse 15 years later. So it was welcome news that the Build Back Better plan included a provision that would have rectified this miscarriage of justice by forcing the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to admit its mistake in a televised ceremony. Unfortunately, Manchin was already on record as proclaiming Crash his favorite movie of the 21st century, making the measure an uphill battle from the start.
Reporting indicates that many other senators share this opinion but were more than happy to let Manchin be the public face of dissent.
5) Saving the beloved rec center from destruction.
The reconciliation bill originally featured a provision to save the old recreation center on Maple Street, which for 60 years has served as an invaluable haven for neighborhood kids. As has become painfully clear, the center can’t survive a 400 percent rent hike imposed by Mr. Crowley, the greediest developer in town. Forty-eight Senate Democrats support the measure (Sinema’s position is unknown), but Manchin told a group of protesting teenagers that “some of my best friends are greedy developers” and “you have to admit the casino Crowley wants to build looks pretty cool,” all but consigning the rec center to the wrecking ball.
6) Closing the kicking-orphans-in-the-face loophole.
Many Americans are unaware that America is one of only five countries, along with Sudan, North Korea, Papua New Guinea, and Albania, where federal law does not explicitly ban delivering a violent blow to a small child who has lost both of their parents. The act is illegal in 49 states but remains on the books in — you guessed it — West Virginia. And Senator Manchin insists that his state preserve a rule that garners only 3 percent support in statewide polls. “Look, I’m a proud Democrat,” Manchin said in his 87th interview regarding the emerging bill on Thursday. “But I’m also a proud West Virginian. And when it comes to kicking orphans in the face, my colleagues and I just don’t see eye to eye.”