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Nate Jackson / August 10, 2021

Democrats’ Radical Spending Agenda

Between “infrastructure” and their reconciliation bill, transformational debt is coming.

A trillion here, a trillion there, and suddenly we’re talking about real money. That’s a paraphrase of the famous misquote of Senator Everett Dirksen from the 1950s, but it’s certainly relevant now.

The U.S. national debt is fast approaching $29 trillion. Remember the heady Tea Party days of 2010 when the debt was a paltry $13 trillion? Good times.

Alas, few Americans care about that anymore. Now Democrats want $1.1 trillion for “infrastructure” (which largely isn’t about roads and bridges, and which the CBO’s lowball estimate says would add $256 billion to the debt), as well as another $3.5 trillion to further the fundamental transformation of the United States. All that stands in their way are a few uninspired Beltway Republicans. But who can blame those Republicans? As we already said, Americans don’t really care about the debt. They might raise an eyebrow at the price tag, but they then conclude, Oh well — I just want MY entitlement.

And so the profligate spending continues apace. The argument is no longer about such antiquated notions as constitutional boundaries for the federal government, but whether a senator or congressman can get some political mileage out of either proposing or opposing a new or bigger spending program.

Update: The Senate passed its infrastructure bill this morning on a 69-30 vote.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders made the case for socialist spending last week, and as soon as 18 Republicans agreed over the weekend to move the “infrastructure” bill, Democrats pounced and released that $3.5 trillion follow-up.

Sanders claims his bill is “the most consequential piece of legislation for working people, the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor since FDR and the New Deal of the 1930s.” He might be right. It’s full of things like Medicare expansion, “free” college, universal preschool, paid family and medical leave, subsidies for “green” energy, and even an untold number of green cards for illegals. Any one of those items should be a big debate in a single bill, yet Democrats cram all of this cradle-to-grave entitlement bonanza into one piece of legislation.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the infrastructure bill is contingent on the bigger bill. Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin say the bigger bill is contingent on the smaller one. They’re just playing both sides against the middle. Either way, Senate Democrats plan to pass their transformational monstrosity using the reconciliation process, which will allow them to bypass a likely 50 Republican “no” votes.

We warned recently that the real and total price tag of the two bills will be more like $6 trillion. If $6 trillion sounds familiar, it’s because we’ve already spent that much on “COVID relief.”

Taking things at face value, the editors of National Review whipped out their calculators: “Were the full agenda to get through, it would mean that Washington would have enacted $10 trillion in new spending since the start of the pandemic less than 18 months ago.”

Next up is a fight over the so-called debt ceiling. It’s supposed to serve as a limit on borrowing, but it’s a limit in name only. Congress always raises it. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says that’s all up to Democrats, who should own up to the cost of their agenda and raise the debt ceiling as part of their bill. “Democrats have all the existing tools they need to raise the debt limit on a partisan basis,” McConnell said. “If they want 50 lockstep Democratic votes to spend trillions and trillions more, they can find 50 Democratic votes to finance it. If they don’t want Republicans’ input, they don’t need our help.”

Democrats never let a crisis go to waste, and they’ve masterfully woven together a global pandemic, Trump Derangement Syndrome (including two phony impeachments), and an election integrity crisis to bring about the fundamental transformation they’ve been dreaming about for decades.

The real problem is that their dreams are increasingly expensive, radical, and far afield of the Founders’ vision and construct for American government. And the dollars and cents aren’t all that’s on the price tag.


Correction: The paraphrase comes from Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen, not Everett McKinley as we erroneously copied and pasted.

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