Faced with near certain majority 2022 midterm election losses of the U.S. House and increasingly likely turnover of the Senate as well, lame duck Speaker Nancy Pelosi is once again marching her majority off a cliff as she previously did in 2010 on their Obamacare legislation votes.
This time it’s a last-ditch do-or-die legacy agenda for 81-year-old Pelosi who is expected to retire after this term.
Although Speaker Pelosi muscled the bill through the House on a 220-213 vote, it remains to be seen how many Democratic Party senators are willing to take that plunge, most notably West Virginia's Joe Manchin and Arizona’s Kyrsten Senema, who are paying critical attention to impacts on their states’ energy industries and economies.
Claims that their party’s proposed $1.85 trillion in new spending over the next decade to end climate change and put the federal government in charge of our lives and livelihoods will "pay for itself" without penalizing wage earners are farcical . . . not to mention that this doesn’t even come close to the actual costs.
And whereas the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) published an initial cost estimate that the package would increase the federal budget deficit by $160 billion over 10 years — $2.2 trillion rather than $1.85 trillion — this doesn’t account for cost-hiding gimmicks such as phony program phase-outs that put the true expenditures closer to twice that amount once they become permanent.
In the real world, this represents the biggest expansion of the entitlement state since the 1960s — maybe ever — over the unanimous opposition of Republicans who were cut out of bill discussions from the beginning.
Here's a brief summary, with a few examples:
Climate … Not Just Small Change:
The largest piece of the bill, $555 billion in climate programs is to shift the U.S. economy away from fossil fuels to “renewable energy.” This would include about $300 billion in tax incentives for low-emission sources of energy such as credits for installing home solar rooftop panels, purchasing electric vehicles (EVs), and solar and wind industry investments.
There’s also an $8 billion methane "fee" (essentially a climate sin tax on natural gas production) which the American Gas Association estimates could raise the average family’s natural gas bill by 17% in violation of President Biden’s pledge not to raise taxes on anyone earning less than $400,000 a year.
The legislation also calls for funding a "Civilian Climate Corps" employing tens of thousands of young people to "fight climate change."
From Cradle to Gravy:
The bill offers hundreds of billions of dollars for universal pre-K for all children ages 3 and 4, along with subsidized child care for many families that extend well into the middle class. The proposal would also provide workers with four weeks of paid family and medical leave.
All of this sounds good so long as voters don’t catch on to the fact that there are only so many rich people to soak and that nothing from the government comes free.
Americans have begun to link the flood of government spending to skyrocketing inflation, which should be recognized as a tax on everyone, with greatest inescapable burdens falling heaviest on individuals and families with lowest incomes.
SALTing Middle Income Tax Wounds:
The same Democrats who campaign against "income inequality" and for "making the rich pay their fair share" have proposed raising a state-and-local tax (SALT) deduction from $10,000 to $80,000 which will mostly benefit wealthiest homeowners of high tax states like New York and New Jersey earning up to $10 million a year who itemize their deductions.
A Penn Wharton Budget Model projects that the top 10% of taxpayers will receive 88% of the advantage, most particularly those who reside in liberal high tax coastal states run by Democrats. And whereas proponents pretend this will raise public revenue, the provision would cost the Treasury an estimated $230 billion through 2026.
Painful Immigration Migraine Headaches:
Although likely to be stripped out by the Senate, an immigration provision in the bill would grant a 10-year right-to-work status to about 6.5 million illegal migrants who have been in the U.S. since 2010. In addition, President Biden has asked for a $100 billion investment to expand legal representation and make changes to the asylum system and border processing.
The Senate parliamentarian, who must approve authority for enactment, has ruled twice against arguments from Democrats to include an immigration provision in the economic bill according to a so-called "Byrd Bath" process, under which the bill’s individual components can appropriately comply with the budget process called "reconciliation."
Costs for immigration provisions aren’t included in the current House-approved budgetary proposal.
Given that the reconciliation process allows legislative passage with a simple voting majority, Democrats must push it through the split 50-50 Senate unanimously with a vice president tie-breaker.
Likewise, Republicans can’t afford to lose a single opposing vote to block it either.
Accomplishing passage will be a heavy lift, subject to strong resistance to some cost items from Sens. Manchin and Senema, who are expected to demand some budgetary trimming that will send it back to the House side.
The lower chamber will then hold a final vote on the amended legislation.
Republicans are united and energized as never before to block this passage along a 10-lane expressway to socialism.
GOP National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel observes that Democrats "seem intent on destroying our economy before they lose the majority."
Referring to Biden’s Build Back Better Act as "Build Back Broke," McDaniel stated, "This bill would worsen inflation by pumping trillions of dollars in wasteful spending into the economy, give tax cuts to the wealthy, hike taxes on middle-class families, and add hundreds of billions to the national debt."
We can be assured that, passage or not, red and purple state House and Senate Democrats who support this bill will be called upon to explain their contributions to those consequences during aggressive congressional midterm challenges.
Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture and the graduate space architecture program. His latest of 10 books, "What Makes Humans Truly Exceptional," (2021) is available on Amazon along with all others. Read Larry Bell's Reports — More Here.
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