Spending Bill: Rushing to pass a historic spending bill and infrastructure package, Democrats are struggling to find unity. 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: Spending Bill
Late last night, Democrats in the House of Representatives delayed a vote on the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill. “Progressives were refusing to back the roads-and-bridges bill they view as insufficient unless there’s progress on Biden’s broader plan that’s the heart of the Democratic agenda,” Lisa Mascaro reports for the Associated Press. “The president’s sweeping proposal topped at $3.5 trillion would essentially raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy and plow that money back into government health care, education and other programs, all of it touching the lives of countless Americans.” Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin is refusing to budge on this price tag, however, saying he’s willing to sit and work on something closer to $1.5 trillion. “Deeply at odds, the president and his party are facing a potentially embarrassing setback — if not politically devastating collapse of the whole enterprise — if they cannot resolve the standoff over Biden’s big vision,” Mascaro writes. Action is set to resume today. Here’s what both sides are saying.
On The Left
The left is split in both the House and the Senate. Moderates in both chambers favor less spending and more urgency on the Senate-approved bipartisan infrastructure bill. Progressives, on the other hand, are wary that a Democrat-controlled DC will squander the chance to go big while they are still in power.
“Why I Won’t Support Spending Another $3.5 Trillion” Sen. Joe Manchin, (D-WV), Wall Street Journal Opinion: “… some in Congress have a strange belief there is an infinite supply of money to deal with any current or future crisis, and that spending trillions upon trillions will have no negative consequence for the future. I disagree. … An overheating economy has imposed a costly ‘inflation tax’ on every middle- and working-class American. At $28.7 trillion and growing, the nation’s debt has reached record levels. Over the past 18 months, we’ve spent more than $5 trillion responding to the coronavirus pandemic. Now Democratic congressional leaders propose to pass the largest single spending bill in history … Ignoring the fiscal consequences of our policy choices will create a disastrous future for the next generation of Americans. … By placing a strategic pause on this budgetary proposal, by significantly reducing the size of any possible reconciliation bill to only what America can afford and needs to spend, we can and will build a better and stronger nation for all our families.”
“Dear Joe Manchin: $3.5 Trillion Is Not Much Money” Jeffrey Sachs, Common Dreams/CNN: “Manchin is bedazzled by trillions of dollars. … Let me reassure the senator. America can easily raise the needed $3.5 trillion in revenues. That amount is not large relative to the US economy or the immense wealth of America’s elite. … To put this $3.5 trillion in perspective, consider the following. First, it is an amount to be spent over 10 years, not one year. … Second, the US Gross Domestic Product—the output of goods and services—will be around $23 trillion in 2021. … Thus, $3.5 trillion over 10 years is a mere 1.2% of the national output of goods and service over those 10 years. This is not much money, especially since our current federal tax collections in 2021 are only 16.6% of GDP. … Here is the bottom line. $3.5 trillion is affordable, even modest, compared with the vast income and wealth of the US. Yet the rich and the corporations need to be called to account. Manchin represents a state with one of the highest poverty rates in the nation, and the lowest life expectancy in the whole nation. The choice is really this: the citizens of West Virginia versus rich corporations, mega-billionaires, and tax cheats.”
“Democrats should take what they can get” James Pethokoukis, The Week: “Remember when Democrats were talking about a ‘transformational’ Biden presidency? Progressives, in particular, were dreaming big and bold. Back in April, a group of notable lefties … introduced a $10 trillion Green New Deal-style infrastructure plan. … Now progressives will be lucky to get even a sliver of that original, expansive vision. … No one should blame progressives for taking their best shot. But now they should think hard about what happens if this week’s stand-off in the House … results [in] an increase in the debt ceiling being the only bill to pass. … Americans haven’t seen a lot of successful governance lately, from the Iraq War to the global financial crisis of 2008 to the COVID-19 pandemic. And while I’m no fan of the $3.5 trillion bill, it would reflect incredibly poorly on American democracy … if we can’t even fill a few potholes [and] strengthen a few bridges … So if progressive Democrats have to settle for a far smaller social spending bill … they should grab the opportunity, right after they vote overwhelmingly for the infrastructure bill and the debt hike. American democracy will thank them for it.”
On The Right
Right-leaning commentators applaud Joe Manchin for his ability to think about the long-term consequences of these massive spending programs. Some think that if Democrats do pass Joe Biden’s wish list, their party will not be rewarded in next year’s midterm elections.
“Manchin sees clearly what his party’s progressives don’t or won’t” Henry Olsen, Washington Post Opinion: “Biden’s ratings among independents had been trending down before the Afghanistan debacle and are now deeply underwater. … Manchin’s call for a pause, then, is the political version of the adage ‘When you’re in a hole, stop digging.’ He sees clearly what his party’s progressives don’t or won’t: The Biden presidency is nosediving, fast, and needs to take time to figure out what’s going wrong. Pushing an expansion of federal government power and spending on a level not seen since the mid-1960s might appease the left but would do nothing to address what the center is concerned about: fighting COVID-19, reducing inflation, and restoring American confidence. Manchin, and the many Democrats who silently stand behind him, don’t want to be the martyrs sacrificed on the progressives’ altar.”
“Biden’s ‘If You Like Your Plan’ Moment” Karl Rove, Wall Street Journal Opinion: “President Biden’s tweet Saturday that ‘My Build Back Better Agenda costs zero dollars’ is reminiscent of President Obama’s June 2009 claim that, under his Affordable Care Act, ‘if you like the plan you have, you can keep your health care plan.’ … The ACA lie was a major factor in one of the greatest midterm massacres ever, when Democrats lost six seats in the Senate, 63 in the House, six governorships, and a record 680 state legislative seats in 2010. … Mr. Biden evidently paid lots of attention to the Obama administration’s political methods when he was vice president, but missed the political fallout. When he told Mr. Obama that signing the Affordable Care Act was ‘a big f—ing deal,’ Mr. Biden also described the scope of the law’s political devastation. That could well describe the Democrats’ losses in 2022. They’re likely to get shellacked whether or not they pass BBB, though perhaps not quite as badly if it fails. Apparently some leaders never learn.”
“If Biden, Dems’ $3.5T cradle-to-grave welfare state happens here’s what America will be like” Jason Chaffetz, Fox News: “Let’s fast forward five, six, even 10 years into the future. What do we get for the $3.5 trillion of taxpayer money Democrats want to spend right now? … We all remember how ObamaCare was supposed to make health care cheaper and more accessible. But 11 years later, data showed ObamaCare had more than doubled health insurance costs. … We can expect more of the same. The American Dental Association expects costs in its industry to go up once Medicare covers dental. … Ditto for child-care providers and community colleges. Don’t be surprised if American colleges begin adopting some of the same cost-saving strategies as European higher education – limiting who can major in lucrative fields, eliminating extracurricular activities, and providing only bare-bones campus facilities. … Without a doubt, we can expect state taxes to skyrocket within the next five years. … Meanwhile, we shouldn’t be surprised to see inflation continue as the debt grows exponentially. … I don’t expect Americans to tolerate such a future. I have great faith in this nation to turn the tide in 2022. … We can’t wait until the midterms to fight this agenda. We have to do it now.”
Flag This: Spending Bill
According to a new Morning Consult-Politico poll, 56 percent of registered voters support Congress’s bipartisan infrastructure bill. In regards to the bill’s $1 trillion price tag, 43 percent of registered voters say it’s the “right amount” to spend on infrastructure, and 42 percent deem it “too much.” Meanwhile, 14% believe $1 trillion is “too little.” In a related poll from Rasmussen Reports (right-leaning), “Just 36% of likely US voters support passage of the $3.5 trillion spending bill.” More specifically, a poll from American Viewpoint shows that “Voters in key swing districts oppose the Biden administration’s $3.5 trillion spending package,” KATV reports. “In Iowa’s third and New Jersey’s seventh congressional districts, where Democratic incumbents narrowly skated past their opponents during the last election, 51% of surveyed voters said they opposed the massive spending package. Only 46% said they favored it, according to the data. In Virginia’s second congressional district, which also has a high chance of flipping Republican in 2022, 52% of surveyed voters opposed the $3.5 trillion package.”
Flag Poll: Spending Bill
What do you think about both the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan and the $3.5 trillion spending bill? Comment below to share your thoughts.