The next build back better

When the latest inflation numbers came out this week, Joe Manchin used the occasion to again denounce appropriating trillions and trillions of dollars in new spending. This comment, of course, was a shot at the Democrats’ build back better proposal. I suggested that this boondoggle was on life support.

But now, after all these months, the White House seems finally to be listening to Manchin’s concerns over inflation and the debt. According to this report, aides to Joe Biden are considering a reboot of the president’s economic package — one that supposedly would help reduce the federal deficit.

It’s not clear exactly what the revised package would look like. However, Team Biden reportedly is looking at a column by left-liberal commentator Mathew Yglesias that contemplates spending $500 billion on “climate” programs and $400 billion on health care initiatives and bolstering Obamacare, and that would increase taxes sufficiently not just to pay for this spending but, allegedly, to reduce the deficit over 10 years by $800 billion.

Manchin included tax increases, climate programs, and health care initiatives in the $1.8 trillion package he presented last fall. That proposal has been off the table for some time. However, a more modest package along the same lines might appeal to the West Virginia Senator. In fact, he recently called an economic package that focuses on deficit reduction “music to my ears.”

The devil most certainly is in the details, one of which is the matter of the state and local tax deduction. There’s also the question of whether the White House will actually produce a fiscally responsible package, as opposed to one that merely impersonates it.

And even if Team Biden wins over Joe Manchin, there’s still Kyrsten Sinema. She has consistently opposed increasing tax rates on corporations and the well-to-do.

And what about the Democratic left? Will it settle for “only” $1 trillion in new spending and a package that excludes an expanded child tax credit? Probably, if that’s all it can get, but maybe not.

Whatever the price tag of a new build back better package, it will be that many more dollars than Congress should be appropriating. And if such a package passes, the blame will rest with Donald Trump and the Georgia Republican voters who didn’t go to polls in the Senate runoff elections because Trump caused them to believe their votes would be fraudulently discounted.

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