Aug 1, 2022
Full Manchin Interview: ‘Whatever the voters choose … I respect’ even if Democrats lose in November’ Transcript
During an interview with Meet the Press, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) discusses the reconciliation bill, energy policy and his views on the November election. read the transcript here.
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And joining me now is Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia Senator Manchin, welcome back to Meet The Press.
Joe Manchin: (00:08)
Always good to be with you, Chuck.
All right, so let me just start with this. Two weeks ago, you said you were adamant, you needed to see the July inflation numbers before you were ready to talk about this bigger budget bill with the Democrats called Reconciliation and then abruptly, you didn’t need to see those inflation numbers. What changed your mind?
Joe Manchin: (00:29)
It wasn’t abruptly, chuck we’ve been working and negotiating off and on very quietly, because I didn’t know if it’d ever come to fruition. I didn’t want to go through the drama that eight months ago that we went through for so long thinking we negotiated, got close, and then it fell apart. And this and that. Never could get there on the build back better. It just was too much and I never could get there. On this one here, we started in April and kept working and working and working and back and forth. And all of a sudden inflation went from six to 8.1 to 9.1 and I said, “Hey Chuck, listen, we better wait and let’s see what’s coming in July numbers come in August before we do anything more.” And that was the point of where we had been talking and negotiating.
Joe Manchin: (01:08)
That’s when Chuck got upset with me and I understand that. And he says, “Oh, here we go again.” And everything. I said, “No, Chuck.” I said, “I’m just being very cautious. I’m not going to be responsible for inflaming the inflation rates. I’m just not going to do it.” So then we got a hot weekend, we all cooled off a little bit and talked on Monday. And I said, “Chuck, I’ve never walked away. We’re still working on it.” And he says, “Well, okay, let’s do it.” And I said, “Well, let’s start talking.” So to Chuck’s credit, our staffs kept talking. We didn’t know if we were going to get there or not. But the bottom line was, is we reduced it and scrubbed it cleared down to 739, nothing inflammatory in that piece of legislation.
The initial criticism of this bill from Republicans is in some ways, to some people, a predictable response, which is simply this, you should not increase any taxes during a time of recession. Why is now the right time to hit certain businesses with a tax hike?
Joe Manchin: (02:04)
First of all, Chuck, I agree with my Republican friends, we should not increase taxes and we did not increase taxes, Chuck. That’s what we scrubbed out from that Thursday when we shut down until we started talking again on Monday. The only thing we have done is basically say that every corporation of a billion dollars of value or greater in America should pay at least 15% a minimum corporate tax.
Joe Manchin: (02:27)
Many people in West Virginia couldn’t believe that corporations aren’t paying anything and some of the largest in the country. With that being said, the rate was that 35% in 2017, when my Republican friends took it to 21. We thought it should stop at 25, it went to 21, a 14% savings. You would at least think that they would be paying at least 15%. Most businesses in all corporations that I know pay 21%. So that’s not a tax increase. It’s closing a loophole.
Well, I understand that. But one person’s loophole is another person who’s tax bill increased. The folks over at the national association of manufacturers and look, they’re not going to like anything that increases their tax bill, I understand that.
Joe Manchin: (03:07)
But here’s their main argument. They say, by doing this, you threaten to stifle the very innovation this bill is supposed to spur, because if you create that tax penalty and you don’t get the credit for investment, then all of a sudden you don’t see that. They’ll make the decision not to invest. Do you buy that argument?
Joe Manchin: (03:30)
I don’t, because I’ll tell you why. The last two years have been massive record profits, massive record profits. And with that being said, it’s been the lowest investment of capital expenditure that we’ve ever had. So it’s not the taxes that’s driving this. What’s driving basic people studying on their money right now is a lack of confidence that we can’t get our act together in Congress or government. They don’t have a confidence there, so what we have done is we have total permitting reform. That’s the thing everyone has told me. When I’ve asked them, point blank, they said, “If you can just take the leashes off, take the chains off of us, let us go and do it.” So we’re going to basically reform our permitting so we’re able to get these projects completed and needed now.
I know that was the promise you got, and it’s one of those where you were promised a bill later, you support reconciliation now, you’re going to get permitting reform later. Why did you not insist on permitting reform first before you gave them your vote for reconciliation?
Joe Manchin: (04:28)
We would’ve done permitting reform in this bill, but basically because of the bird bath and because of reconciliation being around finances, it did not fit. So with that, we have an agreement from speaker Pelosi to majority leader of Schumer, to president Biden.
Joe Manchin: (04:44)
We all have made an agreement on this and if someone doesn’t fulfill… If I don’t fulfill my commitment promise that I will vote and support this bill with all my heart, there’s consequences. There’s consequences on both sides. So I have all the trust and faith that this will be accomplished, we’ll get this done. If not, we both are going face some consequences.
Speaker Pelosi and Chuck Schumer can keep their word and it’s possible the bill still doesn’t pass. So what are the consequences if you don’t get your permitting reform, because they don’t have the votes?
Joe Manchin: (05:16)
Well, as I’ve said before, there’s other avenues and vehicles that we can use. I’ve been committed, I’ve been promised and I do believe, and I trust. If any of us don’t keep our promises, then there are consequences to pay for this. I don’t think that’s going to happen at all, Chuck. There’s too much at stake here. This is the greatest investment we’ve ever had in energy security. Energy security, and also investment in the innovation and technology that we need for the fuels of the future. This is an all American bill, red, white, and blue all the way through.
Now, the name of this bill, some would argue is a bit misleading. The inflation reduction act. Can you explain where in this bill inflation will be reduced for folks in the next six months?
Joe Manchin: (06:01)
Well, first of all, we got the highest gas prices right now. Inflation is killing. It’s hurting everyone in West Virginia right now, and it’s hurting all working people across America. If you want to get the gasoline prices down, you’ve got to produce your way out of it. And we’ve got to bring more manufacturing to back to America. And let me tell you what the bill does. It gives us a strong fossil energy that’s going to produce the cleanest forms of fossil energy in the world. That’s carbon reduction. When you’re replacing the dirtiest oil right now, that’s going into the climate and atmosphere. That’s something we can do.
Joe Manchin: (06:33)
You’re producing an America. We’ve become energy independent, you’re going to reduce because of supply. Next of all, we pay $300 billion down on debt, 300 billion. The first time in 25 years, Chuck, that we’ve ever done this. Next of all, we’re reducing 288 billion dollars in drug prices, because of what we’re doing. This is a bill that basically does everything and if someone says, it’s not going to reduce inflation, my goodness, we’ve never done anything like it. We didn’t raise taxes, we’ve paid down debt, we’ve done everything and we’ve accelerated our permitting processing so we can get things on the market-
Look, I understand it doesn’t add-
Joe Manchin: (07:07)
I understand it doesn’t add to inflation, but here’s what the folks at Penn Wharton said, they said that the impacts on inflation is statistically indistinguishable from zero. Isn’t calling it the inflation reduction act is sort of politically cynical and a bit misleading?
Joe Manchin: (07:24)
Not at all. If you’re producing more and have more supply, and that supply basically satisfies demand and then the prices come down because there’s more people shopping for the products, that’s capitalism. That’s who we are. We haven’t done that. If we’re able to bring things to market quicker. They’re not looking at the long game at all. But you know, Chuck, you talked to different economists, they all have a different opinion.
Joe Manchin: (07:49)
They told me the 17 Nobel laureates were saying that it was going to be transition, transition. And you know what? It wasn’t transitory, it was permanent. We have a serious problem in inflation and we’ve got to defeat it.
Are you convinced that Senator Sinema is going to support this bill? Or if she ends up changing some parts of the tax structure because she votes with Republicans, would that impact your support of this reconciliation package?
Joe Manchin: (08:19)
Let me say that Kyrsten Sinema is a friend of mine and we work very close together. She has a tremendous, tremendous input in this piece of legislation. This is things that everyone has worked on over the last eight months or more. She basically insisted that no tax increases, we’ve done that. She was very, very adamant about that and I support and I agree with her. She was also very instrumental in making sure that we had drug prices that Medicare could compete on certain drugs to bring it down so that there wouldn’t be an impact on individuals, on Medicare, across. She’s done all this. So she has a tremendous amount of input in this piece of legislation. I would like to think she would be favorable towards it, but I respect her decision, she’ll make her own decision based on the contents.
Senator Manchin, what’s your case for Democrats-
Joe Manchin: (09:06)
She’s a good friend of mine, I respect her.
What’s your case for Democrats to keep control of the house and Senate this election year?
Joe Manchin: (09:15)
I don’t know. If you look back through history, it makes it very difficult, especially in most toxic times we’ve ever seen. So it’s up in the air right now. Whether-
No. Right, but do you hope Democrats keep control of the house and Senate?
Joe Manchin: (09:30)
I think people are sick and tired of politics, Chuck, I really do. I think they’re sick of tired of Democrats and Republicans fighting and feuding and holding pieces of legislation hostage, because they didn’t get what they wanted or something, or someone might get credit for something. Why don’t we start doing something for our country? Why don’t we just say, “This is good for America.” I’ve always said the best politics is good government, do something good, Chuck, but I’m not going to predict what’s going to happen.
I’m not asking you to predict.
Joe Manchin: (09:54)
I just want to make sure we do something good. And this-
What result do you want? Do you want the Democrats to keep control of the United States senate and the house of representatives?
Joe Manchin: (10:03)
Oh, I’d love… I’m not making those choices or decisions on that. I’m going to work with whatever I have. I’ve always said that. I think the Democrats have great candidates that are running, they are good people I’ve worked with. I have a tremendous amount of respect and friendship with my Republican colleagues. So I can work on either side very easily.
So you don’t care the outcome?
Joe Manchin: (10:23)
So I don’t have a problem.
You don’t care about the outcome this year of the election?
Joe Manchin: (10:27)
Well, whatever the voters choose, I can’t decide what’s going to happen in Kansas or California or Texas. I really can’t. I’ve always taken the approach, whoever you send me, that’s your representative and I respect them and I respect the state for the people they said, and I give it my best to work with them to do the best for my country. I don’t play the politics that way. I don’t like it that way, that’s not who I am.
There was a new third party organized and announced just last week, a centrist third party, Christine Todd, Whitman Andrew Yang, David Jolly. Is that something that seemed appealing to you based on the answers you just gave me, I’m starting to wonder.
Joe Manchin: (11:04)
Well, I’m starting to wonder when we’re going to start worrying about our country more than we do about our political parties. That’s what scares me. I think that we all have to come back to what our purpose of being in Washington for and who we’re really working for. We’re not working for any party. We’re not working for any political idealism, we’re working for basically right now, a very challenging world that we’re in.
Joe Manchin: (11:25)
We’ve got what’s going on in Europe right now, geopolitical unrest and now we have threats from China to Taiwan and all this going on. And here we are bickering over political outcomes and who’s going to be in charge of what. Right now, let’s take care, the American people are hurting. Inflation, Chuck is killing them, it is killing them. Okay?
Senator, Joe Manchin.
Joe Manchin: (11:44)
Let’s make sure we take care of that.
The democratic elected Senator from West Virginia. Senator, always good to have you on, thank you sir.
Joe Manchin: (11:52)
Thanks Chuck, it’s always good to be with you.
Lester Holt: (12:00)
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