Democrats’ Spending Bill Bigger Than Advertised

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By Washington Examiner July 25, 2021 | Image Source: Washington Examiner

Two centrist sources, one of them explicitly Democratic, provided further reasons why Congress should reject the Democratic Party’s massive $3.5 trillion “reconciliation” spending bill.

The best new reason to oppose Democrats’ massive, $3.5 trillion reconciliation spending bill is that even its outlandish price tag represents an exercise in budgetary sleight of hand. In other words, it is a lie.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget — a respected, non-partisan arbiter — notes in a statement that its true cost “could exceed $5 trillion.”

Before getting into the details, it is worth noting this $5 trillion budget blowout would come on top of a $1.2 trillion “infrastructure” bill that is more about social spending than bricks and mortar. That one, in turn, would come atop — get this! — a total of $5.7 trillion already spent in six different COVID-19 relief bills and several executive orders in just 13 months.

In 2016, just five years ago, the entire federal budget was less than $4 trillion. Now, the total federal debt is nearly 130% of gross domestic product, creating an economically dangerous situation. With those numbers in mind, even $3.5 trillion for this new bill would be hideously reckless. But given the real 10-year cost of $5 trillion, it is insane.

As the CRFB explains, the $3.5 trillion results from the zero-likelihood possibility tax credits and new spending programs designed to be permanent will actually expire before the end of the 10-year budget window. By pretending permanent programs are temporary, they get a better bottom line.

The CRFB calls this an “oft-criticized budget gimmick” that will “obscure the true cost of the legislation and put program beneficiaries at risk.”

The Democrats’ ploy here is both cynical and irresponsible. Eventually, the only way to escape from this debt will be through massive inflation, governmental default, or tax hikes. That’s why the entire budget reconciliation package should be abandoned as soon as possible.

Another respected middle-of-the-road source, albeit a Democratic partisan, offers Democrats a second reason to step back from the spending extravaganza. While his advice is meant for the political good of Democrats, it is also important for the good of the nation.

Veteran Democratic pollster and strategist Douglas Schoen wrote in a recent op-ed that “pursuing this proposal will end up being a lose-lose situation for Democrats in the 2022 midterms.” Drawing on his experience helping reset former President Bill Clinton’s governing approach after Democrats lost badly in 1994 and on the Democrats’ bad losses in the 2010 midterm elections, Schoen says that “voters’ perception of governmental overreach by the Democrats in power” is always fatal for his own party.

The better approach, he writes, is to consider and try to pass each priority on the Democrats’ wish list “on an issue-by-issue basis, rather than ramming through one of the largest government expenditures in history on a simple party line vote.”

In this case, good politics would also be good governance. By working issue by issue, lawmakers have a much better chance of actually doing the will of the broader public. If there is a majority for one sweeping program but not for another, it contradicts the public’s will to force them both through.

On the other hand, the same overreach that ill-serves the public and could lead to a backlash detrimental to Democratic election prospects next year also exacerbates partisan distrust and bitterness, both on Capitol Hill and in the nation at large. The cycle of angry, precipitous partisan backlashes that began when Clinton tried to govern as a progressive avatar in his first two years has become a plague on the body politic, destabilizing the system and undermining public faith in constitutional processes.

That’s why Democrats’ plans that effectively would spend the nation into fiscal oblivion are not only bad policy in themselves but also bad for the public polity as a whole.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and Douglas Schoen are both correct. It is time to abandon left-wing fantasies and start playing reasonable small-ball.

Author: Washington Examiner

Source: Washington Examiner: Democrats’ spending bill bigger than advertised