Biden Bids to Bilk Back Bit by Bit
He pitched passing his signature spending agenda in “big chunks.” Will it work?
Five minutes after Joe Biden’s signature so-called “Build Back Better” boondoggle crashed and burned in the Senate, Democrats pivoted to their fraudulent “voter rights” legislation. That too ran into a serious roadblock this week, and it also doesn’t mean they’ve given up trying to foist Democratic Socialism onto the country. They’ll just aim to do it in smaller pieces now.
In Biden’s self-congratulatory speech marking the end of his first year in office, he noted that Build Back Better might be broken in bits. “We’re going to have to probably break it up,” he said, adding, “I think we can break the package up, get as much as we can now, and come back and fight for the rest later.”
The agenda is dead. Long live the agenda.
To quickly recap: Joe Biden beat Bernie Sanders in the 2020 presidential primary by promising to be a moderate centrist and to tap the brakes a bit on the party’s radical left wing. Then Biden took office and immediately set about to govern to the left of Sanders, as well as letting Sanders have a big hand in writing the legislative agenda. (We also think he doth protest too much when he said Wednesday: “I’m not Bernie Sanders. I’m not a socialist. I’m a mainstream Democrat.”)
After rushing through the $1.9 trillion massively inflationary American Rescue Plan, Democrats turned their attention to the Sanders bill — Build Back Better (AKA Build Back Bolshevik). The initial price tag for that was $3.5 trillion, but the real cost would have been $5 trillion or more. It had zero Republican support, so Democrats compromised with themselves by using accounting gimmicks to reduce the price tag to around $1.8 trillion. Biden trumped them all by saying it really cost “zero dollars.”
Yet even the “compromise” was defeated in December when West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin refused to go along with it, leaving Democrats short of a majority.
Now, Democrats will likely try spending trillions of dollars in what Biden called “big chunks” rather than as a whole enchilada. For some reason, he thinks the pieces of his agenda are popular even when he himself is at record levels of unpopularity. He also thinks it proves Democrats are “for” something, which he hopes serves as an election-year contrast with what “the other team’s not for.” Even if he’s partially right about popularity, his agenda is far outside the constitutional bounds of government or of good policy.
“If price increases are what you’re worried about,” Biden said Wednesday, “the best answer is my Build Back Better plan.” Correction: If you’re worried that price increases aren’t happening fast enough…
Meanwhile, inquiring minds want to know what the other Joe — Manchin — thinks about the piecemeal approach. “We’re going to start with a clean sheet of paper and start over,” he said. “If anybody wants to talk, I’ll always talk.”
He added: “The main thing we need to do is take care of the inflation. Get your financial house in order. Get a tax code that works. We can do a lot of good things. … But get your financial house in order. Get this inflation down. Get COVID out of the way and then we’ll be rolling.”
Again, Manchin is no conservative. Spending big on new entitlements doesn’t really bother him. But inflation does, and even he can’t ignore that passing the first part of the Democrat agenda last spring blew inflation totally out of control. Adding that much spending all over again, even in chunks — the sum total of which would no doubt surpass the original total — will only make inflation, the supply chain, and the jobs market worse.
The nation better hope Manchin and the Senate’s 50 Republicans can hold out a few more months, and that the GOP retakes the chamber in November.
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