Because of course he was, it turns out that Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was “deeply concerned” about the expanded child tax credit included in last year’s COVID relief package proving to be too popular, according to a new book by New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns.
McConnell told a friend that he was deeply concerned about the new tax credit because it could have later proved difficult for Republicans to undo the benefit, according to an excerpt shared to Twitter.
“If Americans grew used to the benefits in the new law, [McConnell] suggested, it would become politically untenable for Republicans to repeal its most popular message," the excerpt reads.
Luckily for McConnell, he didn’t have to worry about it for too long.
Sen. Joe Manchin, the Democrats’ key 50th vote in the Senate, said in December that he wouldn’t vote for the Build Back Better bill, which as it existed at the time included a one-year extension of the child tax credit.
Before publicly opposing the reconciliation bill that contained much of the Biden administration’s agenda, Manchin told Senate Democratic colleagues that he thought recipients of the benefit would use the money for drugs, HuffPost reported in December.
The Burns and Martin book confirms this: “Everybody just takes this check and buys drugs," Manchin reportedly told Democratic Sen. Cory Booker. Manchin also complained that families in his state, West Virginia, were already too large, and he thought the tax credit would pay people to have kids, the book states.
Manchin also happens to represent a state where one in five kids live in poverty, according to a report released last year.
During its brief existence from July to December 2021, the child tax credit impacted more than 61 million people, cut away red tape in the existing tax credit preventing the poorest families from receiving it, and nearly doubled the amount families who got the benefit received—$4,380 versus roughly $2,300 under the previous law, according to an estimate by the Tax Policy Center.
Democrats are already feeling the consequences of their Senate majority pulling the benefit out from under families. After holding a double-digit lead among child tax credit recipients over Republicans in the generic midterm ballot in December, the final months the payments were made, Republicans now hold a lead over Democrats, a Morning Consult poll earlier this month found.
But the White House has continued to express hopes that the Build Back Better bill will eventually be passed in some limited form this year before the midterms. While Manchin hasn’t completely shut the door, he did take part in an ad this weekend endorsing West Virginia GOP Rep. David McKinley in an upcoming Republican primary. In it, he touted both his and McKinley’s opposition to Build Back Better and implied the bill was “reckless spending.”
"I have always said, if I can't go home and explain it, I can't vote for it, and that's why I opposed Build Back Better," Manchin said in the ad.
It doesn’t really seem like McConnell has much to worry about.