Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) wants to kill a $4,500 federal tax credit for union-made electric vehicles because he thinks they’re “wrong” and “not American.” And he picked an awfully tone-deaf moment to say this: at an event hosted by Toyota celebrating a $240 million investment in its West Virginia facility, where he accepted three giant novelty checks for charity from the Japanese automaker.
The $4,500 tax credit proposal would be in addition to the $7,500 federal tax credit that currently exists (and which the White House is trying to extend) for electric vehicles. It would only go to buyers of EVs that were made by a union workforce — meaning pretty much just the Detroit-based automakers. Toyota has vehemently opposed the union-made tax credit along with Volkswagen and Honda. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has also spoken out against the idea. While the infrastructure bill is already on its way to President Biden’s desk to be signed, this particular tax credit proposal is part of the Build Back Better reconciliation bill that is still not finalized — so it could still change or be removed altogether.
As far as arguments go when it comes to Manchin, this one at least has a consistent logic to it. “The product should speak for itself,” he told Automotive News. “If you’re a capitalist economy that we are in society, then you let the product speak for itself, and hopefully, we’ll get that, that’ll be corrected.”
It’s the Veep-level optics that stand out, though. Yes, the checks were for charity. But knocking the proposal at the same event held by a major company that also stands opposed to it is almost as bad as explaining why you don’t support expanded healthcare from atop your yacht.