After previously suggesting a $1.5 trillion alternative to the $3.5 trillion spending bill his fellow Democrats are proposing, moderate Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia on Tuesday signaled he might go higher.
Manchin told CNN that he is amenable to a price tag between $1.9 trillion and. $2.2 trillion.
“I’m not ruling anything out,” Manchin said, “but the bottom line is I want to be strategic, to do the right job, and we don’t basically add more to the concerns we have right now.”
Manchin has been at odds with the progressive wing of the party over the spending bill, which he argues adds to an entitlement mentality. He also believes it is the “definition of fiscal insanity” to add spending while Medicare and Social Security face shortages.
“While I am hopeful that common ground can be found that would result in another historic investment in our nation, I cannot — and will not — support trillions in spending or an all-or-nothing approach that ignores the brutal fiscal reality our nation faces,” Manchin said last week. “There is a better way, and I believe we can find it if we are willing to continue to negotiate in good faith.”
But while many observers took Manchin’s $1.5 trillion figure to be a ceiling, others saw it as a floor from which he was willing to negotiate.
Manchin said Tuesday: “Basically I’m more concerned about our nation and our country turning into a more of an entitlement society, versus a rewarding society. So there’s a balance to be had here.”
He told CNN he has not spoken to President Joe Biden since last week.