Most of you have heard about the massive, comprehensive $3.5 trillion or so spending bill that is being debated in Congress (the “Build Back Better Act”). It is supported by President Biden, virtually all Dem lawmakers, and most of the media. Conversely, it is opposed by all GOP lawmakers and two moderate Dem senators. At the moment, the bill is stalled in the Senate. The Dems’ margin in the Senate is so small that they need the support of all 50 Dem senators in order for it to pass. It is generally accepted that this omnibus bill is the centerpiece of Biden’s legislative agenda, and if it fails to pass, his presidency will have been dealt a severe blow.
The purpose of this blog is not to debate the pros and cons of the bill’s provisions. Rather, it is to point out that it is some 2,500 pages long, chock full of hidden clauses, fine print, and “pork,” and virtually none of the congressmen and women who will be voting on it have read it. I repeat, this massive bill will cost roughly $3.5 trillion, will likely remake our way of life, will affect our children, grandchildren, and generations yet unborn, and virtually no one knows all of what’s in it! I don’t know about you, but I find that downright scary and borderline congressional malpractice (if there is such a thing). I admit I have not read the bill, but then it is not my job to do so. However, I can assure you that if I were a member of congress I would make sure my staff had read it and analyzed it before I cast my vote.
Based on my research of summaries provided by various sources, such as CNN, CBS News, Fox News and others the following is a list of what I consider to be the major provisions of this bill Again, I am not offering an opinion, just the facts as I see them. I encourage you to decide for yourself if this is what we want, need and can afford.
l. $400 billion to enhance child care and universal “pre-k” as part of the Dems’ “cradle to grave” plan.
2. Two free years of community college regardless of income.
3. Expand Medicare to include dental, hearing and vision services.
4. Extend expanded child care credit through 2025.
5. Comprehensive paid family leave.
6. Expand eligibility for child nutrition programs.
7. Invest in affordable housing.
8. Increase significantly the number of IRS tax agents and expand its tax enforcement mandate.
9. Various climate change and Green New Deal provisions.
10. Block oil/gas exploration.
11. $25 million each for butterflies, “desert pupfish,” and mussels.
12. $4 billion to remove “racist infrastructure.”
13. $100 billion to provide amnesty, free college and welfare for illegal aliens.
14. $500 million for “culturally appropriate” school lunches. (Bagels and lox?)
15. Free housing for convicted felons.
16. Taxpayer-funded abortions.
17. Grants to treat “loneliness.”
18. $7 billion to universities to provide “equity” training and teach “critical race theory”).
19. Increase the corporate tax rate from 21% to 26%. This would make it among the highest in the world.
20. Increase taxes on small businesses.
21. Increases to the “death tax.”
22. Increase the top personal tax rate from 37% to 39.6%.
23. Increase the top capital gains rate from 20% to 25%.
One telling fact is that the Dems are trying to pass this bill as a “reconciliation” item. That is, they are claiming it only needs a simple majority to pass the Senate, not a supermajority of 60 votes like non-reconciliation bills. They know they would never get 60 votes, but they could get a simple majority since VP Harris could break a tie in their favor. It is questionable whether or not this bill as it is currently written would qualify. Reconciliation bills are required to be budget-related. Even so, presently the Dems are two votes “short” of a simple majority. Two moderate Dem senators, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, have expressed reservations about supporting it. In fact, Manchin has called for a “pause” in spending for the moment.
Many of the above provisions are part of the radical/progressive wish list, and have already been proposed (and rejected by most Americans) as part of the “Green New Deal.” The radical Dems are now trying to sneak them in under the radar in this massive bill that few will read. Others sound good and make some sense, but they are too expensive and inflationary. Many believe the tax provisions will strangle the economy, drive businesses overseas, and feed inflation. The economy has already been exhibiting signs of inflation. Anyone who has bought groceries, gassed up their car, or bought clothes recently has experienced this. Inflation hurts everyone. Some of us are old enough to remember the 1970s, which were characterized by high inflation and long gas lines. You have to ask yourself if we can afford the bill, and if the provisions are worth the cost.
The Dem leaders are trying to convince us that we need this bill. Pelosi has repeated her famous line that “you have to pass it to know what’s in it.” Unfortunately, that inane line worked with respect to the Affordable Care Act, but hopefully, it will not work now.