Infrastructure and Social Spending: Two major spending bills for infrastructure and social programs are still struggling to find consensus in Congress. Here’s what both sides are saying. To have stories like this and more delivered directly to your inbox, be sure to sign up for our newsletter.
Top Story: Infrastructure and Social Spending
DC is still dazzled by last week’s election results in Virginia, New Jersey, and New York. If anything, this was a cohesive moment for Republicans who “say their victories in Virginia and elsewhere are sending a clear message to Democrats that they have ‘overreached’ on their plan to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on social programs and to raise taxes on the wealthy,” Alexander Bolton reports for The Hill. Conversely, the defeat has left Democrats divided. James Carville thinks his party needs to go to a “woke detox center” if they want to win another election. Meanwhile, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said Democrats lost because they were “trying to run a fully 100 percent super-moderated campaign.” Zooming out, there’s a general consensus amongst Democrats that they didn’t act swiftly enough “to move President Biden’s agenda through Congress.” Now, after months of false-starts Democratic lawmakers passed the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill through the House on Friday. The bipartisan bill heads to Biden’s desk where he is expected to sign it into law. Meanwhile, there is still a standoff over Democrats’ larger $1.75 – $2 trillion social spending package, which the House is not expected to vote on until later this month. Here’s what both sides are saying about these two pieces of legislation.
On The Right
Right-leaning commentators focus most of their attention on the budget reconciliation proposal rather than the $1 trillion hard-infrastructure bill. They think Democrats are lying to the American public about the true cost of the bill. As a result it will bury the country in debt and accelerate our decline, they say.
“The $3.98 Trillion Trojan Horse” Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal: Democrats “are going all out to sell their monstrosity of a budget bill, which they claim will cost $1.75 trillion over 10 years. The Treasury even rolled out an estimate claiming it will reduce the federal deficit. Anyone who believes this probably responds to email pitches from Nigeria. For a dose of reality, the better source is the Penn Wharton Budget Model [which] says that if all of the provisions of the bill (except green energy tax cuts) are made permanent, new spending would increase by $3.98 trillion, while the tax revenue would stay at $1.55 trillion, over 10 years. … That’s more than twice what the White House is trying to get Americans to believe. … This means the real cost of the Sanders-Biden-Pelosi budget is $4 trillion, and it will put the U.S. on a path to European entropy.”
“Nancy Pelosi Is Making a Fool of Joe Manchin” Charles Cooke, National Review: “Joe Manchin has made it clear that he wants a bill that is not based upon accounting gimmicks, that contains no new handouts or permanent programs, and that does not feature anything that can’t pass the Senate. So, naturally, Nancy Pelosi is gearing up to finalize a bill that meets none of these conditions. … Why? Because [Democrats are] trying to push through sweeping political change with a House majority of eight and a tied Senate, because they need every vote they can find… If they were sensible, Democrats would recognize that they don’t have the numbers, or the support, or the momentum to do what they are trying to do. But they’re not sensible. They’re off their meds. So they’re chaotically cobbling together whatever they think can get 218 votes in the House, and praying that Joe Manchin won’t mind.”
“Spending bills are voodoo economics II” Cal Thomas, Telegraph Herald: “You’ve heard of the kitchen sink. This is that, the bathroom sink and the tub. If it becomes law, the country will sink deeper in debt from which we are unlikely to recover. … Christian Mysliwiec, commentary editor for The Daily Signal has written an analysis of the $1.75 trillion bill. Here are three of his lowlights: Childcare and Pre-K: Actual 10-year cost is likely more than twice the reported cost of $400 billion. Obamacare Tax Credit: Actual 10-year cost is likely much more than three times the reported cost of $130 billion. Child and Earned Income Tax Credits: Actual 10-year cost is likely more than 10 times the reported cost of $200 billion. … This is, to recall a phrase, ‘voodoo economics.’ … I am not a pessimist, but if these spending bills become law it will only advance our decline.”
On The Left
Left-leaning commentators believe inaction bred inaction. Meaning, their lack of action to pass meaningful legislation led to a lack of action at the polls. Many believe they need to go big or go home. That starts with not only the hard-infrastructure bill, but the social spending package as well.
“Democrats, It’s Time to Get Moving” Paul Krugman, New York Times: “What’s crucial is that Democrats not take the election setbacks as an indication that they’ve overreached… There’s no evidence of a significant voter backlash against Biden’s social spending proposals. True, most people have no idea what these proposals are… Beyond that, however, issue polling suggests that the main components of the proposed spending range from fairly popular to extremely popular. … The problem, however, is that Congress still hasn’t passed anything. Politics junkies may be following the twists and turns, but all the broader public knows is that no bill has been approved; the impression most people have is that Democrats aren’t getting anything done. … So the way forward for Democrats seems fairly obvious. First, pass something. … What’s crucial for the politics right now is that something significant gets passed and that Biden then goes out and sells it.”
“The real lesson of the election results? Democrats must go big and bold” Andrew Gawthorpe, The Guardian: “If moderates decide that this week’s results represent the beginning of just such a backlash, they may force the party to abandon its plans and retreat into a defensive crouch. This would be an enormous mistake. If Democrats are to reverse their fortunes, they have to be bold and rack up big accomplishments. Rather than backing off expansive legislation, they should double down on it. If Democrats pass an ambitious package to fight poverty, expand healthcare, assist families with childcare expenses, and introduce paid family and medical leave, there will be no mistaking what they stand for. Republicans, meanwhile, will be left arguing against programs which are standard throughout the developed world and – more importantly – popular in the United States as well. … To flip that calculus and show that Democratic governance can benefit the country while the culture war is designed to hold it back, Democrats have to be big and bold.”
“Democrats Must Deliver on Promises or Voters Will Punish the Party” John Nichols, Democracy Now!: “Democrats have, since midsummer, sent a signal of, ‘Yeah, we’ve got lots of big plans. We’ve got lots of big goals. We control the presidency. We control the House and the Senate. But we’re not delivering. We can’t get it together. We can’t even get our own people together.’ … And it’s very easy to blame Joe Manchin and to blame Kyrsten Sinema — and they deserve a lot of blame on this. But there also has to be a recognition that the Biden administration, Democratic leaders in Congress, did not follow the advice of Senator Bernie Sanders who said, ‘Look, you need to go out and sell this program.’ … They didn’t do that. They relied on kind of insider, predictable, back-door, behind-the-scenes negotiations. And it didn’t work. President Biden flew off to Europe with a framework that Joe Manchin didn’t support. And so, at the end of the day, Democrats are in a situation where they’ve promised a lot, but they have not delivered. And you cannot fail to deliver and expect to win elections.”
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According to an ABC News/Ipsos poll conducted Oct. 29-30, “7 in 10 (69%) Americans said they know just some or little to nothing about what’s in both bills,” ABC’s Quinn Scanlan reports. In regards to whether both bills would help or hurt the economy, Americans are split. “A plurality (32%) of Americans think the bills would hurt people like them if they became law, while fewer (25%) think it would help them. Nearly 2 in 10 (18%) think the bills would make no difference, and 24% said they didn’t know.” Scanlan points out that “Even among Democrats alone, fewer than half (47%) think the two bills would help people like them.” Meanwhile, “Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Republicans think the bills would hurt people like them, and so do about 3 in 10 (29%) independents.”
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