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: Biden ‘will still be looking’ to make parts of Build Back Better happen, says top White House economist

Top White House economist Cecilia Rouse on Wednesday used the past tense to refer to President Joe Biden’s big social-spending and climate plan, but said parts of it still could become reality.

“Build Back Better was a package. It was a way to put a bow around a lot of important investments,” said Rouse, who chairs Biden’s Council of Economic Advisers.

“The president will still be looking for ways to make them happen — maybe not in that particular bow, but these are important investments that we need to make if we’re going to continue growth.”

Her remarks, which came during a Council on Foreign Relations virtual event, fit with what some analysts have predicted — that parts of Biden’s roughly $2 trillion plan still have a chance of getting enacted, even after a key moderate Democratic senator, West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, said last month that he can’t support Build Back Better.

“It will take weeks to craft a viable package that satisfies Sen. Manchin without losing progressives, but we continue to believe a $1T+ package is probable,” said Isaac Boltansky, BTIG’s director of policy research, in a recent note.

Manchin had proposed a $1.8 trillion counteroffer to Build Back Better last month, but it’s no longer on the table after a breakdown in talks, according to a Washington Post report on Saturday citing unnamed sources.

Related: Manchin says ‘no negotiation’ happening on Build Back Better

As Rouse spoke on Wednesday, she said she liked to “start with the babies and little kids” when it comes to spending on “human capital.”

“There are numerous studies which suggest that dollars invested in our youngest children — in terms of high-quality care settings — pay for themselves multiple times — five, six, seven times over,” she said.

U.S. stock indexes SPX, +0.21% DJIA, -0.05% COMP, +0.23% traded modestly higher Wednesday afternoon, after a reading on inflation came in near a four-decade high.

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