By Adam Andrzejewski
Senate Democrats continue to fight among themselves over President Joe Biden’s proposed $3.5 trillion 10-year spending plan for so-called “human infrastructure,” a massive expansion of the social safety net.
Most likely, it will be killed or scaled back into a “skinnier” version. Nevertheless, in real time, the $3.5T bill is the only legislation on the table and many provisions will likely be resurrected in the future.
While the Democrat-backed bill dubbed the Build Back Better Act has no Republican support, it only needs 51 votes to pass — 50 votes plus VP Kamala Harris breaking a tie — going through a process called reconciliation.
Our auditors at OpenTheBooks.com read the bill and reviewed what Congressional Democrats packed into this massive legislation:
- $500 billion over 10 years to give 12 weeks of paid time off to workers to care for new children or an ailing relative “by blood or affinity.”
- $1 trillion to extend a turbocharged child tax credit from $2,000 to $3,600 for children under age six and $3,000 for older dependents
- $108 billion for tuition-free community college, making states partially pick up the tab after a few years. Undocumented immigrants and the wealthy would be eligible.
- $200 billion for universal preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds, benefitting about 5 million children from families of all income levels and making states foot about 50 percent of the bill.
- $250 billion for childcare to all families, including the wealthy, to keep the cost of child care at or below 7 percent of most families' income.
Beyond the pricey agenda for children and families, OpenTheBooks.com found massive spending on climate change and green energy policy, among other things:
- $3.5 billion for a Civilian Climate Corps at public land agencies to advance a green agenda, which is on top of $4.5 billion for the same purpose at the Department of Agriculture
- $960 million to install and upgrade biofuel infrastructure in gas stations and fueling facilities, as well as giving $9.7 billion in grants and loans for clean energy repowering of rural utilities
- $34 billion in subsidies to “green” energy special interests to advance radical elements of the Green New Deal, allegedly addressing air pollution.
- Create a $1,500 per ton tax on natural gas, costing the economy as much as $9.1 billion and cost as many as 90,000 American jobs.
$222 billion in green energy tax credits and $42 billion in subsidies for the rich through green energy tax credits for electric vehicles for which Americans making over $450K a year could qualify.
Raising taxes is a major part of paying for expanding the social safety net. A five-page memo outlined $2.9 trillion in tax increases proposed by House Ways and Means Democrats, the largest increase in decades.
About $1 trillion will come from high-income Americans, Fortune reported. Democrats propose raising the top income tax rate for people making over $400,000 from 37 percent to 39.6 percent. The top capital gains rate would also be increased from 20 percent to 25 percent.
There would be a 3 percent surtax on people with adjusted gross income over $5 million.
Corporate tax rates would increase from 21 percent to 26.5 percent for businesses with income over $5 million. Small businesses with income below $400,000 would see their rate lower to 18 percent and all of those in between will have their rate remain the same, at 21 percent.
The Democrat-led bill would make is harder for small businesses to keep their doors open and involves the federal government in local housing and zoning planning.
And there’s more...
- $5 billion for “environmental and climate justice” block grants via the Environmental Protection Agency.
- $200 million for the Presidio Trust in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s district, some of the priciest real estate in the country.
- The bill would stop drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, killing up to 130,000 American jobs and losing billions of barrels of oil.
While Democrats say the bill will cost $3.5 trillion, that figure “is a phony number,” according to the Wall Street Journal editorial board.
The spending plan is “full of delayed starts, phony phase-outs, and cost shifting to states designed to fit $3.5 trillion into a 10-year budget window that can pass with a mere 51 Senate votes,” the editors wrote.
Democrats also say the $3.5 trillion will be paid for with $2.3 trillion of tax increases, $700 billion in savings from changing how Medicare and Medicaid buy pharmaceutical drugs and the rest would be paid for with future economic growth.
Reason points out that federal government hasn't fully paid for its regular spending since 2001. The Congressional Budget Office projects that there isn’t a single year in the next 30 in which the budget will balance.
There are massive public policy consequences from this legislation lasting decades. Maybe, Congress should consider passing legislation along bipartisan lines with 60 votes in the Senate.
The Washington Post – the next version of human infrastructure
Republican Study Committee doc on House Democrat’s $3.5T infrastructure bill