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Opinion | Manchin’s Opposition to the Build Back Better Bill

To the Editor:

Re “Manchin Says No, Deserting Biden Over Prized Bill” (front page, Dec. 20):

Negotiating with Senator Joe Manchin is the ultimate in futility and frustration. He has used one excuse after another to stand in the way of valuable legislation. Now he’s drawing the line at supposed inflation or deficit fears.

He is catering to the wishes of special interests and donors, rather than what will benefit the majority of Americans. I’m fed up with his bad-faith negotiations and arrogant power plays. He’s been coddled, courted and offered numerous concessions in recent weeks — all for nothing.

He’s fine with a huge budget for our out-of-control defense industry, costing much more annually than the Build Back Better legislation, but he balks at the prospect of a deficit that may result from doing good for most Americans. How about doing the right thing for those less fortunate than you, Mr. Manchin?

T.R. Jahns
Hemet, Calif.

To the Editor:

Senator Joe Manchin deserves all the criticism he’s received for weakening and then blocking passage of legislation to support needy children, regulate drug prices and prevent catastrophic climate change. But one senator acting alone could not so thwart the will of a majority of Americans. Mr. Manchin owes his position of power to 50 Senate Republicans, voting together to reject any of President Biden’s initiatives.

Stephen Dycus
Strafford, Vt.

To the Editor:

Say it ain’t so, Joe Biden. After months of exhausting work, your New Deal is turning out to be no deal, and the American people will most likely lose out on everything from child-care subsidies to price controls for prescription drugs.

Why? Because Joe Manchin says it ain’t so.

Is it really necessary, Mr. Biden, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, that this legislation come in one big package? Why put everything at risk rather than legislating separate bills on each of the major proposals? The whole country will be able to breathe a little easier if even incremental help can be legislated.

Ed LaFreniere
Gig Harbor, Wash.

To the Editor:

Senator Joe Manchin has been elected by a state that has seen firsthand the ravages of the fossil fuel industry. It is a state that receives far more federal aid than its citizens contribute in tax revenue. Mr. Manchin himself has been enriched by his relationship to the coal industry.

He has, terrifyingly, assumed an obstinate role of blocker of important legislation more in league with his Republican colleagues in the Senate than in tune with Democratic priorities. He is shortsighted and destructive of his party’s efforts on climate change, voting rights and a broad social agenda to build up our nation, especially its middle and working classes.

I find his obstructionist behavior disturbing and depressing. We need leadership to move forward on these critical issues. Mr. Manchin should know better. We, as a nation, deserve better.

Sally Peabody
Medford, Mass.

To the Editor:

Joe Manchin’s intention to vote against the Build Back Better bill could get him elected to a third Senate term next year. But there’s a cost when he puts his own ambition ahead of the interests of the millions of people who’d benefit from that bill.

Republicans are doing their best to make President Biden’s a do-nothing administration. Since every Republican in the Senate will vote against the bill, Mr. Manchin’s opposition will kill it. Their strategy is to make sure that Mr. Biden gets nothing done, so they can take over both houses of Congress next year, and then the presidency two years down the road.

So even if Mr. Manchin runs again and hangs on to his seat, he won’t have any of the make-or-break power that he’s come to love for the past year. He’ll just be another backbencher, one who will have given his Republican colleagues a fabulous gift.

Richard Yospin
Newton, Mass.

To the Editor:

Re “Pushing for Self-Driving Tesla, Musk Downplayed Tech Limits” (front page, Dec. 7):

Elon Musk deserves considerable approbation for his financial and technological achievements. At the same time, as a former longtime National Transportation Safety Board accident investigator, I was disheartened to learn that he overrode the advice of experienced engineers and safety professionals regarding Tesla safety.

I have investigated automation-related aviation accidents and have written on the topic. The safety issues raised about Tesla’s Autopilot, a “name borrowed from the aviation systems that allow planes to fly themselves in ideal conditions with limited pilot input,” were first seen and described in aviation accidents some 40 years ago, primarily when pilots did not understand the automation they oversaw or believed that the systems had capabilities that were not present. These findings were subsequently confirmed in numerous research studies.

To claim that Tesla’s “autopilot” can achieve anything near the autonomous functionality of systems in aircraft of the 1980s is not only misleading but also leads to the types of accidents seen both in aviation and with the Tesla.

Further, calling the Tesla system Autopilot for drivers who lack the sophisticated training that is the foundation of transportation safety in aviation and other transportation modes threatens the safety of all who share the road with Tesla drivers.

Barry Strauch
Annandale, Va.
The writer, who was at the N.T.S.B. from 1983 to 2016, is the author of “Investigating Human Error: Incidents, Accidents, and Complex Systems.”

To the Editor:

We read with great interest Dr. Daniela Lamas’s Opinion guest essay “Who Deserves a Lifesaving Organ?” (Sunday Review, Nov. 28), exploring how bias influences transplant access.

Barriers exist at many junctures. Transplant programs often have waiting list criteria with objective factors, such as insurance plans, age and weight, as well as subjective ones, including social support, frailty and transportation access. Referral to transplant programs is one of the most significant hurdles.

Some referrals occur late in the course of a patient’s disease, or never. Education of providers and patients about these referrals is critical. Our Transplant Institute has partnered with the University of Chicago Medicine’s Urban Health Initiative to train community health workers to go out to families in the South Side of Chicago and provide direct access to many specialty care areas, including transplantation.

Transplantation is an unusually transparent specialty. The Scientific Registry of Transplant Programs collects and reports not only on direct outcomes, but also on racial diversity, age distribution, median waiting times and other transplant access issues.

We are heartened to see programs reconsider how to improve access to transplantation so as many patients as possible can benefit from lifesaving organs.

Rolf Barth
Michelle A. Josephson
The writers are, respectively, the surgical director and the medical director for kidney transplantation at the Transplant Institute, University of Chicago.

To the Editor:

Re “In New York City, Job Growth Lags Rest of Country” (front page, Dec. 14):

New York’s struggle to recoup lost jobs is also hurt by the very structure of the city’s economy.

For decades, the city focused its growth on expensive real estate developments and service-sector jobs while ignoring industries that were foundational to the region’s growth, such as manufacturing, the port and distribution.

The city’s new economy is full of companies that create little in the way of multiplier effects on other economic sectors as opposed to industries that previously flourished here. If New York wants to have sustained long-run growth it will need to focus investment in additional industries.

Guthrie Alberts
White Plains, N.Y.

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