(American Consequences) They call it the “Build Back Better” plan, but it’s also simply the Biden agenda… And the future of the Biden presidency – as well as the Democratic party – may hang in the balance.
The basic idea is to spend a massive amount of money… trillions of dollars… and hope that it turns around the plummeting Biden poll numbers that are making the midterm elections look increasingly grim for the president.
Despite the fact that Democrats have a razor-thin margin in Congress, they are proceeding as though they have a mandate. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi managed to keep enough Democrats in line last week to pass a roughly $2 trillion spending package that has large elements dealing with social services and climate change.
Pelosi had already been able to overcome a minor rebellion within her own party over the multitrillion-dollar infrastructure bill. Six far-Left Democrats voted against the infrastructure bill, which is generally believed to be a more popular, bipartisan measure. But 13 Republican congressmen crossed party lines to support it, which pushed it through to Biden’s desk for signature.
With that agenda item through, the bigger challenge for Pelosi was the fate of the larger and more partisan Biden agenda… But she was able to squeak it by with the narrowest of margins. It will be the largest non-emergency spending bill to make it through Capitol Hill in more than 50 years. Very few people seem to know what’s in it… And given its size and scope, it’s unlikely many members of Congress have read it themselves.
There are some better-known components of it – funding for universal prekindergarten, for example. But overall, the Biden “BBB” bill just redistributes a lot of money around to already enormous government programs, and has tremendous outlays for “combatting climate change.”
There’s a lot of lofty rhetoric about “climate justice” in the White House descriptions of the bill, and the vagueness in its aims seems to be a feature rather than a bug.
One way they have tried to sell it to the American people is to constantly claim that the cost of the spending bill will be “zero.” Now, as a budgetary matter, that is theoretically true, as reflected in the recent Office of Management and Budget analysis.
But in reality, the bill is riddled with accounting gimmicks to make it seem less costly to the taxpayer than it will be. The assumption that some of the major spending mechanisms will be phased out – instead of extended – is only credible to someone who knows nothing of how Congress generally spends the taxpayers’ money.
As a practical matter, the Build Back Better agenda is going to involve massive increases in taxation. They are going to raise the corporate income tax, including a new corporate minimum tax, and raise taxes on high-income individuals.
Most concerningly, a major part of the Biden agenda seems to be supercharging the Internal Revenue Service.
While Pelosi and the Democrats spew a lot of talking points about “fairness” and “climate change,” the Biden plan involves an $80 billion increase in funding for the IRS. The claim is that this will result in hundreds of billions of additional revenue through more efficient enforcement.
This is a polite way of saying IRS audits are going to be much more common and rigorous… And anyone who believes that they will be reserved only for the ultra-rich will be greatly disappointed. A newly invigorated IRS raises substantial politicization concerns.
And in the background over the entire Biden agenda is the specter that could bring this presidency down: inflation.
We already are seeing the highest inflation in three decades, and the response of the Biden White House and Pelosi Democrats seems to be a desire to make inflation worse… The Biden spending package – assuming it gets through the Senate – will expand government debt by 25% over the course of its spending provisions, and lower long-term GDP by 2.8%, according to the Penn-Wharton Budget Model.
And so it seems the response of the Democrats to too much money in circulation chasing too few goods and services appears to be adding even more cash into the mix…
This may pay political dividends in the short run, but history shows that high gas prices and galloping inflation have brought down much more adept presidents than Joe Biden when the people are finally able to cast their judgment at the ballot box.
How Much Worse Will It Get For Biden?
This is a White House that is running out of room to maneuver… And that’s not just a broadly held perception in political circles – the polling data shows it too.
The most recent poll from USA Today/Suffolk puts his approval at 38%. His disapproval is at an ominous 59% rating. While not quite catastrophic (former President Trump at this point in his first term had a 37% approval rating), it’s certainly not where the Biden team wants to be.
But there’s no question that this White House is underperforming and the Democratic Party is heading for a disastrous midterm blowout unless they turn things around.
Keep in mind, the goals for this presidency were not set particularly high…
Biden ran on being a uniting force in American politics who would restore “normalcy.” His very limited 2020 campaign (remember he memorably spent much of it “hiding in the basement” according to his detractors?) was all based upon Joe as a known quantity in politics who wouldn’t shake things up too much…
We were told he would get the job done without perpetuating the circus-like atmosphere of the Trump era.
Unfortunately, what the American people are seeing is a White House that seems disconnected from their real concerns and inept whenever it does take action. The data reflect this too. Most concerning for the Biden team from the perspective of polls is that it’s independent voters who have dramatically soured on President Biden. By a 7-1 margin, these voters say Biden has done worse than they expected.
The shift in perception is occurring despite the corporate media’s overwhelming support of the Biden administration. They are rooting for this White House in every conceivable way.
To be fair, what can the journos point to at this stage of the Biden presidency as a victory? The recent passage of the infrastructure bill is the only legislative win that Biden’s White House can hold up high for year one, and it’s unlikely to change broad perceptions of the economy, nor will it address the other areas of Biden deficiency in term one.
Spending more than $1 trillion on roads and bridges (alongside payoffs to unions, Green New Deal insanity, and a whole range of Democrat pork and wish list items) may help Democrats in some areas in time for the 2022 midterm elections, but it alone won’t stop the Republican Red wave that is building up day after day.
This massive spending spree is probably Biden’s only hope to turn the country’s perception of his first term around. Every other major policy area has been either disappointing or disastrous for Biden in his first year.
Listing Biden’s challenges from January 2020 quickly turns into a recitation of failures when viewed through the lens of today. And there are a couple of key areas where things are likely to get worse for Biden next year…
The U.S.-Mexico border is the most open it has been in 20 years, and perhaps the most lawless ever. Hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants are crossing into America every month, and close to 2 million illegals will have entered the U.S. in 2020 alone.
The Biden White House made the conscious decision to undo security measures taken during the Trump administration to stop the flow of illegals, and the American people are suffering the consequences. They see the caravans coming, and feel like they are being taken advantage of.
Then there’s the aforementioned inflation and the economy… Inflation is the highest it has been in decades, and massive spending increases will only exacerbate that. In almost every poll you’ll find, the economy is the top concern. And despite the Biden assurances to the contrary, Americans overall think it’s not going well.
There are millions of unfilled jobs, supply-chain disruptions leading to empty shelves, and COVID anxieties holding back the Blue states in particular from making a full economic recovery.
A year is a long time in politics, but Biden and the Democrats are going to need every day between now and next November to turn things around. This will require a realistic evaluation of what has gone wrong so far (a level of introspection Democrats rarely show) and a tremendous amount of luck. Otherwise, it’s going to be a Red wipeout next fall.