You certainly can’t accuse Democrats of violating the old expression about making hay while the sun shines. Given a bare governing majority in both the House and Senate, they have taken the spoils of power to the limit – and well beyond.
The list of plausible explanations for Democrats barely clinging to control in the House and gaining a last-minute tie in the Senate in 2020 is reasonably long. It would obviously include concerns about the pandemic, along with other mitigating factors, including a summer of uncontrolled riots, a busted economy, and Trump’s post-election conduct. But nowhere on that list would be a widespread desire for radical change. While an unwitting public had fallen for Marxist-run Black Lives Matter as the answer to racial injustice exposed during the George Floyd killing, there was nothing resembling a hue and cry for massive federal spending, federalizing elections, ending the filibuster, adding states to the union, or packing the courts with leftists. So why are Democrats now engaging in a dramatic spending jag – a trillion dollars down, another three or four trillion to come – which suggests they are dramatically misreading the voters’ mandate?
There are two interconnected reasons. One is that the Democrats know the jig will soon be up, so they need to capitalize on their most outlandish ideas, now or never. Given the present likelihood they will lose one or both chambers of Congress in 2022, and the rank uncertainty of their plans for 2024, they realize this is their moment in time. They will have just a few months to accomplish their most ambitious objectives before the midterm elections approach and they are forced to start posturing as centrists again.
But the second reason is more significant – and familiar to anyone who has followed Democrat politics over the years. This budget-busting package is a naked attempt to buy off voters in advance of 2022 through all manner of new and expanded government schemes.
They set the stage for opening the budgetary floodgates by convincing 19 Republicans to join them in passing the over $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill – though, in typical D.C. fashion, no more than one-third of the legislation is for actual infrastructure, even by Democrats’ most generous estimates. But that was just relative window dressing compared to the coup de gras to come. By a 50-49 straight party line vote on a $3.5 trillion budget resolution passed this week, they have now laid the necessary groundwork to employ the so-called “budget reconciliation” process. This allows them to pull an end run around the long-standing 60-vote filibuster rule in the Senate and go on a wild spending orgy at least three times as large as the infrastructure bill.
This, in a country likely to surpass $30,000,000,000,000 in national debt before year’s end, not that anyone seems to care much anymore.
Of course, this new bundle of goodies is all to be paid for only by filthy rich corporations and individuals finally paying their “fair share” (which has never been defined but works beautifully as a talking point – and moving goalpost).
Their dream package of inducements to the voters includes an overhaul of the nation’s education and healthcare systems, expanding the child tax credit, tuition-free community college and prekindergarten, enforcement of lower prescription drug prices, a federal paid leave benefit, a series of energy tax incentives, and unprecedented allowances for expansion of green energy. And, oh yeah, it will offer a pathway to permanent lawful status for certain illegal immigrants.
Incredibly, if Democrats had their way, it could be even worse. But mercifully, there are some limits to what can be achieved through the budget reconciliation process. Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), both of whom are needed for passage of any legislation through this process, have stated that they will not countenance the most extreme measures, though they will certainly have their arms twisted right to the end. And other wish list items, principally the $15/hour minimum wage and certain immigration measures, cannot be incorporated into the plan, per the opinion of the Senate parliamentarian.
Buying votes. It’s the oldest trick in the Democrats’ book. So the party has decided the best path to victory in 2022 and beyond is to say damn the fiscal torpedoes, knowing the added debt is something they can simply kick down the road in the most cynical fashion, and initiate a wild spending spree to purchase the loyalty of their targeted voters. But while we can always count on the left to throw money at virtually every problem, the latest Democrat runaway spending train will make past Democrat-run congresses and presidents like Barack Obama and Bill Clinton look like pikers.
Read more from Tim Donner.