We all know that politicians famously stretch the truth from time to time, and even outright lie when they believe the occasion demands. But given the long leash we have by necessity granted them to trim or distort reality, at what point does such exaggeration turn into a treacherous brand of deception?
The Democrats are testing those limits with the price tag they claim for their social welfare behemoth known as Build Back Better, or as they prefer to call it in some circles, “human infrastructure.” The grab bag of progressive priorities has passed the House and awaits its fate in the Senate, but it seems the only element of the massive spending package to make it into public discourse is the price tag. Before bowing to the reality that we don’t live in a socialist nation, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and her Squad came roaring out of the gate, demanding a $6 trillion spend-a-thon. That number has since been reduced multiple times over several months to its current supposed price tag of some $1.75 trillion.
But that is where Democrats have employed trickery too clever by more than half. Not only do they hide the true cost, but unlike most major spending bills where the budget gimmickry can be hidden in the fine print (remember Nancy Pelosi on Obamacare: “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”), they do it in a way that is extraordinarily transparent. They pretend that new welfare programs obviously designed to be permanent will only be funded for anywhere from one to six years, thus reducing the projected cost exponentially.
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) has found that if all the BBB proposed programs continue over the next ten years, as they are designed to do, the cost would not be anywhere close to the $1.75 trillion claimed by Democrats. In fact, it would increase by a staggering $3 trillion, for a total of $4.75 trillion over a decade, with the $3 trillion difference added to deficits, and ultimately to the national debt now just a tick away from $30 trillion, a once-unthinkable number.
Democrats have not denied that they intend to implement all the BBB programs and policies even beyond the ten years covered in the legislation, meaning permanently. Their plan is uncomplicated: Put the programs in place any way they can, and as their sunsets approach, use demagoguery to attach the worst of motives to Republicans opposed to re-authorization.
CRFB has extrapolated on the elements of the bill, concluding that its most expensive feature, expansion of the child tax credit, projected at a “mere” $190 billion for the one year, will in reality cost more than $1 trillion. As funding for the bill approaches its expiration date, leftists would undoubtedly shame Republicans by pulling out the old familiar racism argument – elite media coverage will reflect something with a headline like “GOP cruelly slashes tax credit vital to health of neediest children.”
Meanwhile, the earned income tax credit (EITC) is presented at a cost of $15 billion, when over a decade it will actually amount to $135 billion. Government-supported child care would expand for three years and Obamacare for six years at a line-itemed total of $405 billion, but in reality, over ten years, it’s $955 billion. Then there is the giveback to blue states who had their precious state and local tax deductions (SALT) removed in 2018, supposedly costing $275 billion, but in reality more like $600 billion.
And oh yeah, they intend to pass this monstrosity just as inflation rears its ugly head, fueled by the Democrats’ first Biden-era giveaway of almost $2 trillion, which was sold as COVID relief while serving to entice workers who were let go during the pandemic to stay home. More than ten million jobs across the nation remain unfilled.
Fortunately, there exists amidst the Democrats’ ocean of reckless tax-and-spenders an isle of sanity, a dinosaur – an actual, honest-to-goodness moderate named Joe Manchin, who can single-handedly kill the bill. The senator from Trump country, West Virginia, sounds like he might be ready to do so if Biden and company don’t come clean on the cost:
“As far as I’m concerned, whatever plan it would be — pre-K, child care, in-home care — then it should be 10 years. It shouldn’t just be one year here, three years here, five years there. I think it would be very transparent for the public to see … I don’t think that’s a fair evaluation of saying we are going to spend X amount of dollars but then we are going to have to depend on coming back and finding more money.”
Manchin may finally be cracking under the extreme pressure placed on him by institutional Democrats and progressives to cave. “This is bu—-it. You’re bu—-it,” he yelled on Wednesday at a reporter for HuffPost who had asked him about his skepticism toward the child tax credit.
In what world, what planet, what solar system, what universe does this bill make sense? But apparently undaunted by the absurd timing of their proposition, with inflation taking a toll on every American and the president’s approval tanking badly, Democrats will go right ahead and take to the bank a time-tested proposition: Once an entitlement is in place, especially given automatic media support, it becomes almost impossible to eliminate it. Statists like Joe Biden and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) have proven with their nakedly dishonest representation of a budget-busting bill that they will do whatever it takes to expand the reach and power of government, even grossly understating the cost of a landmark bill. These are the politicians Ronald Reagan had in mind when he stated, “a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth!”
~ Read more from Tim Donner.