Even as liberal Democrats cheer on President Joe Biden's massive spending proposals, moderates in the party are expressing concern that the $4.1 trillion in infrastructure and social spending, coming on the heels of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief legislation, could harm their chances of retaining their majority in the House in next year's midterm elections, The Hill reported on Wednesday.
"Democrats are like kids being given the keys to the candy store right now," a Democrat strategist said. "We have all this candy, and we'll worry about the stomach ache later."
Another party strategist said that "I can see the ads now. 'Joe Biden the $6 trillion dollar man.' Most Americans want the government to work but spending $6 trillion doesn't make political sense."
The two expensive proposals are a $2.25 trillion infrastructure bill meant to create jobs and provide funding to rebuild roads, bridges and highways; and a $1.8 trillion plan centered on education and child care.
If Democrats don't compromise on the price tag, they will likely have to pass the legislation without any Republican support by using special budget rules in the Senate to avoid a filibuster, and by convincing moderates in their own party such as Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema to vote for the plan.
"I'm struggling with what their end game is," said one Democrat strategist concerned that the party is shooting itself in the foot by creating such easy targets for the GOP to criticize. "They may be thinking, 'We're going to lose the midterms anyway.'"
Manchin, who opposes ending the Senate filibuster, which requires 60 votes to pass most legislation, said last week he was becoming "very uncomfortable" with the cost of passing Biden's agenda.
"Are we going to be able to be competitive and be able to pay for what we need in the country?" The Washington Post reported Manchin as saying. "We got to figure out what our needs are and maybe make some adjustments. We're at $28.2 trillion now, debt, so you have to be very careful. There's a balance to be had here."
Sen. Angus King has also voiced similar concerns, telling Politico last month that "It's got to be paid for. It's just a question of who pays. Are we going to pay or our kids going to pay?"
But other Democrats are dismissive of the concerns expressed by moderates, pointing out that Biden's approval ratings remain above 50% percent in most polls, and his adminstration has led a largely successful vaccination effort, according to The Hill.
"They are starting with a bill that is incredibly popular, including good chunks of Republican voters and local elected officials, and keeps getting more popular as they explain it to people," strategist Eddie Vale said. "And that includes paying for it with raising taxes on the rich and big corporations, which is the thing Republican voters agree with the most."
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