West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin has finally gone on the offensive to defend his position on President Biden’s Build Back Better plan. Manchin had been keeping a low profile during negotiations, but he is now telling the press why he is against the plan as it stands now.
To his credit, Manchin is blowing the lid off the proposals true cost. He said the framework is balanced using “shell games and budget gimmicks,” and he is right.
Supporters say the price tag is $1.75 trillion, but that is a number that could only be devised by using Washington math. The trick—and both parties do it—is to underestimate the cost of the programs while overestimating the expected revenue.
As the Wall Street Journal opined, “They use phony accounting to finance a few years of new spending with ten years of tax increases.”
Maya MacGuineas, president of the bi-partisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, said it is difficult to know the true cost of the legislation because there is not a full score from the Congressional Budget Office.
“Without an independent score, how will we know whether the House Build Back Better Act matches the President’s framework? Does it really cost $1.75 trillion as claimed? And is it fully paid for, as promised?”
Good questions. No, great questions!
The national debt is at 29 trillion and growing every second. It is irresponsible and fiscally risky to seriously consider such a massive growth in entitlements without a plausible estimate of the cost and the revenue for it all.
The issue is not just the cost, whatever that turns out to be. What is in the bill? No one really knows because all that exists is the much talked about “framework.” The Journal said that framework is “like a house with only the two-by-four frame in place. The rest will be filled in hours before the vote, so they can jam it through, and we can find out later what’s in it.”
Supporters pick out their favorite part of the framework and campaign on that, knowing there is a built in constituency. Pre-K, childcare, child tax credits, clean energy, more Medicare benefits, affordable housing, on and on. Free stuff is very appealing, except it is not free; it is very expensive.
The public deserves to know more precisely what the government plans to create, how it will be paid for and whether the numbers add up.
While that is being worked out, the House of Representatives should take up and pass the $1 trillion infrastructure bill. This compromise plan to rebuild and repair the nation’s roads and bridges, expand broadband coverage and address climate change passed the Senate 69-30.
However, House progressives are blocking the bill because they want to ensure the Build Back Better plan also passes, and many House Republicans oppose the bill because they see it as a gateway to the Build Back Better plan.
Democrats want to paint Manchin as the obstructionist, but if that means putting the brakes on the half-baked Build Back Better framework, then the Senator from West Virginia is performing a valuable service.