Biden simply did not do that in his pursuit of a wide-ranging Build Back Better bill. In December, he didn’t rush to take Manchin’s $1.8 trillion offer, apparently because it left out an extension of the expanded child tax credit. As Biden hesitated, Manchin announced his opposition to the entire bill and revoked the offer. Biden was understandably reluctant to give up on a program that had successfully slashed child poverty and had the makings of a signature policy achievement. But it was politically foolish to presume that the one-year expansion of the credit—slipped into the American Rescue Plan reconciliation measure—would be extended indefinitely without first securing Manchin’s support.
Krugman and others charged Obama with having “wasted time” by trying for months to win Republican support for the Affordable Care Act, support that never materialized. But Obama wasn’t just chasing Republicans; he was also chasing Senate Democrat moderates. However long it took, he found the votes he needed. Notably, Obamacare (and the student loan reform that rode along with it) was an anomaly. Every other bill Obama signed into law was passed thanks to mathematically necessary Republican support. It’s far more accurate to charge Biden with having wasted time on Build Back Better, as he spent months trying to wear down Manchin and ended up with nothing. Biden took less time getting the 60 Senate votes needed to pass an infrastructure bill precisely because he let those moderates who held the determining votes take the lead on negotiations.
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