What You Need to Know
- He's willing to consider provisions lowering prescription-drug prices and extending enhanced Affordable Care Act subsidies in the meantime.
Senator Joe Manchin said he put the brakes on the Democrats’ tax and climate agenda in order to wait for July inflation data and to see what the Federal Reserve does next — but is willing to consider moving ahead in September.
The West Virginia Democrat said Friday that he told Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer he wouldn’t agree to go forward with an economic package that includes tax and climate provisions before an August congressional recess.
“I said, Chuck, can we just wait until the inflation figures come out in July,” Manchin said on “Talkline with Hoppy Kercheval” on West Virginia broadcast station MetroNews. “He took that as no, I guess.”
Manchin said parts of the package he’d be willing to consider in the meantime include provisions lowering prescription-drug prices and extending enhanced Affordable Care Act subsidies.
The July consumer price index report is scheduled for release Aug. 10, and a consensus estimate for it isn’t yet available. But the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg for the third quarter is currently 8.1%, suggesting continued historically high readings for July through September. The CPI surged 9.1% in June.
As for the Federal Reserve, policy makers are likely to raise interest rates by at least 75 basis points on July 27. Bets on a bigger move, of a full percentage point, retreated on Friday after a gauge of consumers’ longer-term inflation expectations dropped in July.
Sept. 30 is the hard deadline for Democrats to use the fast-track budget process to try to ram a bill with climate, tax, prescription-drug and other measures through the Senate without Republican support.
Pushing action closer to the November midterm election would likely make it harder to pass any controversial tax increases through the narrowly controlled House.
Democrats now need to weigh whether to move forward now with a prescription drug and Obamacare health bill, using their one shot with the current budget reconciliation process for fiscal 2022, or wait to see if Manchin comes back to the table in September for a larger bill.
Some states announce Affordable Care Act premium increases in mid-August. If nothing is done, voters would be hit with bigger bills in October, just before the November election.
A spokesman for Schumer didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.