A Step Forward

19 November 2021

 

Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

House Passes Build Back Better Act

 

The House of Representatives has been threatening to pass the Build Back Better Act, sometimes called the reconciliation bill, for some weeks. This morning, it finally did so. The vote was 220-213, with all GOP members voting against it joined by just 1 Democrat. The rest of the Democratic Party backed the legislation. It now goes to the Senate, where Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kristen Sinema of Arizona will eviscerate it. What comes out of the Senate will be a watered-down bill, but not passing this one would have crippled the administration.

The Democrats have spent far too much time arguing among themselves, publicly, over how much money they were going to spend. The BBB Act started as a wishlist that would cost $650 billion a year (less than the Defense Department's budget) Some fussing brought that down to $350 billion a year, and then, $175 billion per year. The Congressional Budget Office scored the bill suggesting that it was worth about $200 billion per year. The trillions the Democrats and media have used covers 10 years of budgeting, and that is deceptive. This journal works on annual, not decennial, costs because that is how the government spends it.

The smaller bill retains many of the programs the Democrats should have been talking about instead of the cost and the process. USA Today reported, "The roughly $2 trillion [over 10 years] package of progressive priorities would provide free universal preschool for three- and four-year olds, caps certain drug costs, boosts Pell grants for college tuition, expands family leave, and provides new hearing benefit for seniors. It would address climate change through billions in incentive programs while also spending money to electrify up to 165,000 U.S. Postal Service trucks and creating a Civilian Climate Corps. It also increases corporate taxes and beefs up IRS enforcement." Voters don't much care about the size of the bill so long as the programs are adequately funded to work properly.

"While I continue to have reservations about the overall size of the legislation -- and concerns about certain policy provisions that are extraneous or unwise -- I believe there are too many badly needed investments in this bill not to advance it in the legislative process," said Representative Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), a centrist. She tweeted later, "There is a lot of good in this bill, and as a pragmatic Democrat who wants to deliver for my constituents, I am never one to let the perfect become the enemy of good." Politics is the art of the possible, and this now needs to be sold to the people.

The GOP, of course, hates everything about this bill with the possible exception of the typeface used in printing it. "With record high inflation and gas prices, supply chain shortages in what's going to be the most expensive Thanksgiving on record, Democrats should focus on addressing real economic crises that are facing real Americans and real American workers every day," Pennsylvania GOP Rep. Guy Reschenthaler said on the House floor Thursday.

Inflation is a transitory phenomenon right now, a function of reopening the global economy. Demand is merely human whim but supply requires production and transportation of goods with is much less instantaneous. Meanwhile, employment is approaching pre-pandemic levels, the stock market is up, wages are rising, and the recovery appears on track. However, the Republicans have nothing else to run on.

Getting this bill out of the House and into the Senate is a big deal. Getting it out of the Senate and to the president will be even harder. The Democrats can still screw this up. Stay tuned.

© Copyright 2021 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.


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