Congressman Jim Banks (R-IN) accused Democrats of playing “hide the ball” with the text of the Build Back Better Act in a memo to the Republican Study Committee, which he chairs. The leviathan legislation comes in at a whopping 2,468 pages at the moment (changes aren’t just possible; they’re likely), but Rep. Banks managed to find the ball – 42 of them, actually. The debate thus far has focused primarily on the overall price of the bill – but a closer look at this progressive shopping list would be a shock to many. In Rep. Banks’ words: “Each of these 42 bullets is enough to vote against the bill. Taken together – it’s mind-blowingly corrupt.”
Mean Green Spending Machine
Very little of the bill is devoted to what most people would consider actual infrastructure – hard infrastructure like roads, bridges, and utilities, or even soft infrastructure like the education system, law enforcement, and other governmental systems.
But then there’s the label critical infrastructure, which is defined by the USA Patriot Act of 2001 as any “systems and assets, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that the incapacity or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination of those.” In short, whatever the government wants to call critical infrastructure.
So what forms of “human infrastructure” do the Democrats consider critical? The Green New Deal in all its glory – from the new CCC (that’s Civilian Climate Corps, this time, a sort of climate police funded by tax dollars) to “green energy” tax credits for electric vehicles and all the way down to an “environmental justice” curriculum in universities and K-12 public schools. The included methane and natural gas taxes are estimated to cost the economy up to $9.1 billion and 90,000 jobs – which would almost certainly increase the overall cost as many of those workers would be forced to rely on unemployment and SNAP benefits.
Free Stuff for Everyone!
Build Back Better means more “free” stuff. There’s health care and tuition – from preschool through community college – at no (upfront) cost. Emphasis on upfront, as anyone who pays taxes is pitching in – and you can bet that massive tax hike is going to hit the poor as well as the middle class, regardless of what the Democrats claim. The various welfare programs already in existence will be continued as well, sans any requirement to even attempt to find a job – which can only worsen the current labor shortage and all the consequences that come with it, like ports clogged with unprocessed shipping containers and airlines that can’t put pilots and other staff in planes.
These freebies include clauses like this:
“No individual shall be determined to be ineligible to receive benefits provided under this subpart […] on the basis of citizenship, alienage, or immigration status.”
So anyone who managed to enter the country illegally qualifies for the taxpayer-funded free college, health care, and other welfare benefits regardless of whether they’ve ever worked a day at a legitimate, tax-paying job in this country.
On top of that, this human infrastructure bill would grant amnesty to around eight million illegals already stateside, and remove roadblocks keeping many out, including those who failed to attend removal proceedings in previous immigration cases. In the right circumstances, DHS might even waive former convictions for things like illegal voting and human trafficking.
According to the IRS Active Enrolled Agents Listing – which was last updated September 17 – there are 63,202 IRS agents in the U.S. The Build Back Better Act includes almost $80 billion for the purpose of hiring more agents. That buys about 87,000 – more than twice the number of agents currently enrolled. What will these new revenuers be doing? Reviewing any account above a $600 balance or with more than $600 in total transactions a year. Rep. Banks calls this an IRS-agent army, and while it may be tempting to call that hyperbole, consider this: Agents in the Criminal Investigation Division are armed – with AR-15s, in fact.
This may be one of the most life-altering changes for many Americans. For the 2020 tax year, the government collected $3.42 trillion in taxes, according to the Treasury’s Data Lab. FY2020 carried a $3.1 trillion deficit. Add those two together and we can assume it cost the U.S. somewhere around $6.5 trillion to operate in 2020 – and that was without this monster of a spending bill. The tax code is already complicated enough, but with the recent changes – mostly COVID relief measures – it’s nigh impossible to figure out. Even some professionals and both the Turbo Tax and H&R Block services got it wrong in many cases, according to one IRS agent.
Now imagine an IRS, more than doubled in size, that desperately needs to rake in some revenue to pay for all these “freebies” and intends to recoup that cost by combing through the bank accounts of anyone who makes more than $600 in a year.
Other Progressive Goodies
There are a plethora of other progressive and statist goodies, of course – some of which didn’t make Banks’ list. The big bill would increase the “sin tax” on many tobacco products and impose a new one on nicotine itself. For example, the tax for smokeless tobacco in 5701(e) is changed from $1.51 to $26.84.
Tax-funded abortions also made the list – though this is one of those places they “hid the ball,” as the text doesn’t include the word “abortion.” Instead, readers must follow the trail to Section 10214 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to see what the expanded funding covers.
Nearly $4 billion would allow “racist” roads and bridges to be “fixed,” and $200 million for the Presidio Trust in Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) district. The bill would enforce consequences against red states that refuse to adopt Green New Deal provisions and add about $4 billion in “Community Climate Incentive Grants” to reward the states that do cooperate.
Those items mentioned here and in the RSC memo are only the tip of the iceberg. Remember: the bill is 2,486 pages – and over half a million words – long. Regardless of political affiliation, there’s no denying that the Build Back Better Act would, in fact, forever transform America’s society and economy.
~ Read more from James Fite.