Less than 24 hours after the Congressional Budget Office announced that the “Build Back Better” (BBB) bill will increase the federal deficit by $367 billion, House Democrats passed the $1.75 trillion legislation with no GOP votes. This bill, essentially a far left wish list of climate and social spending boondoggles, will certainly exacerbate inflation if passed by the Senate. Hence the absence of public support for BBB. A new Harvard/Harris poll asked registered voters, “Do you think a $1.5 to $2 trillion dollar social spending bill will lead to more inflation, less inflation, or would it have no effect on inflation?” A majority (56%) answered, “More.”
It’s increasingly apparent that the specter of inflation is haunting the pocketbooks of most Americans. According to a new Economist/YouGov poll, 76 percent of Americans reported that the price of gas had “gone up a lot” during the past year. The survey also found that 65 percent had experienced significant price increases for food. Moreover, when likely voters are asked about how BBB would affect the nation’s economy in general, it gets a thumbs down. A new survey released by the Trafalgar Group asked likely voters if the bill will be helpful or hurtful to America’s economic recovery?” A majority (52.4%) said that it would be very or somewhat hurtful. An analysis by the Tax Foundation agrees:
We estimate the new House bill would reduce long-run GDP by about 0.4 percent and long-run American incomes (as measured by gross national product or GNP) by about 0.4 percent. The bill would also reduce the capital stock by about 0.8 percent and wages by 0.3 percent, while eliminating 107,000 full-time equivalent jobs.… We estimate that the bill would result in $675 billion of accumulated deficits (including interest payments) during the first decade, leading to an increase in payments to foreign owners of the national debt.
The hilarious response from the Democrats to this has been to claim that BBB will somehow bolster the economy and reduce inflationary pressure. ABC News quotes Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) making this preposterous claim: “Want to fight inflation? Support Build Back Better.” Vice President Harris delivered herself of this vapid assertion during an interview on ABC News’ “Good Morning America”: “When you look at the numbers, the whole point about inflation and why it hurts us is because prices go up. With the Build Back Better agenda, it’s going to bring the cost down.… Talk to the 17 Nobel laureates who are economists who actually have studied the issue.”
This talking point concerning the fabled Nobel laureates is frequently echoed by President Biden. Oddly, neither he nor Harris bother to mention that the version of BBB provided to these economists isn’t the same legislation that the House passed last Friday. The bill they endorsed was the original proposal produced by the House Ways and Means Committee, which included “spending offsets” in the form of tax increases “on the wealthy.” These offsets have since been rendered meaningless by fiscal gimmicks such as sunsetting spending programs while leaving in place tax increases that purport to pay for them. Even left-of-center analyst Ben Ritz of the Progressive Policy Institute admits this:
Most major social spending programs, including child care and healthcare subsidies, would be enacted for six years or less in the House bill. Their costs will be offset in future years only if these programs are allowed to expire while tax changes continue raising new revenue. If every policy in the bill eventually becomes permanent, the CRFB estimates it would add at least $2 trillion to deficits over the next decade. Structuring the bill around these “shell games and budget gimmicks,” as Sen. Joe Manchin recently called them, fails to address the concerns he and other moderates have about spending and inflation.
This brings us to the fate of BBB in the Senate. It will die in the upper chamber without the support of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), whose well-known misgivings about the bill reflect strong opposition among his constituents. A recent poll of West Virginia voters conducted by MBE Research found that 74 percent want Manchin to reject BBB in favor of legislation that controls spending. Consequently, unlike the House bill, the Senate version will have to approximate budget neutrality. Moreover, paid family leave and any provision harmful to the coal industry will have to go. Finally, Manchin won’t support BBB if it includes any provision that attempts to circumvent the Hyde Amendment.
In addition to getting Manchin on board, the Democratic leadership of the Senate will have to satisfy Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) whose objections to BBB has earned her the scorn of the media and physical harassment from various leftist crazies. A lot has changed in Arizona since Sinema eked out a narrow win over Republican Martha McSally in 2018. She is not up for reelection next year but she can’t lightly vote for an inflationary bill so closely associated with a president whose favorability numbers in Arizona are not merely under water with Republicans, but with Independents and suburban women who are already unhappy about the rapidly increasing cost of day-to-day living.
And no amount of happy talk from the White House or congressional Democrats will mollify voters who feel the pain of poor governance every time they buy groceries, fill up their gas tank or pay the heating bill. Nor will they fall for risible claims that these problems are the result of the coronavirus pandemic or the legacy of the Trump administration. It is blindingly obvious to the majority of Americans that the economy is in disarray and that this sad state of affairs is a direct result of ill-conceived policies concocted by the Biden administration and his congressional accomplices. BBB is just another example of their incompetence, more proof that the Democratic Party is unfit to govern.