CLAY & BUCK: What Will Manchin Do? Build Back Better on the Brink


CLAY: Good editorial today in the Wall Street Journal. The headline is: “The Real Cost of Biden’s Spending Plan,” Build Back Better. The Democrats are trying to ram this through. Remember it’s passed in the House, has not passed in the Senate. They’re trying to get 50 votes. Joe Manchin of West Virginia is holding it up. And there was a significant detail that came out over the weekend. Friday. This kind of got buried into the news. 

The CBO, which is the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, was asked to get the actual cost of the Joe Biden plan. Remember, they’re trying to say that it cost zero, that it’s gonna be paid for, and the way that they’ve sunset different provisions makes it seem like it’s gonna cost — and this is a direct line: “The 18 programs itemized in the table in his letter to Congress will add just shy of $3.5 trillion over 10 years to the total cost of the House bill compared to Democrats saying it’s gonna cost $889 billion.” 

So this idea that it’s fully paid for is not true. Why is this significant? Well, Joe Manchin, senator from West Virginia, has been saying (summarized), “Hey, it doesn’t seem to me,” and I think he’s right, “that spending trillions of dollars extra is the best response when we’ve got a 6.8% right now inflation rate, the highest since 1982.” So he was asked just now in the last hour about whether he’s likely to support Build Back Better. Big day because he is scheduled to meet with president, I understand, and this is what Joe Manchin had to say.

MANCHIN: …what we can afford. And that means, uh, having a tax plan that that’s, uh, fair and equitable and keeps us competitive but also makes everyone pay, especially the wealthy pay their fair share too. See what that spins off, and if that’s in that one-seven range and we should be spending whatever in that range, as far as I’m concerned. If it’s whatever plan it would be, then it should be 10 years. 

It shouldn’t just be one year here, three years here, five years there, and that would be… That would be… I think it would be very transparent for the public to see exactly what they’d be getting for overspending for 10 years. Inflation is real. It’s not transitory. It’s alarming. It’s going up, not down, and I think that should be something we’re concerned about.

BUCK: The Democrats have been lying about this, Clay, to sell it. I mean, the Biden administration’s lying. When they say this won’t add a penny to the deficit, that’s a lie. No serious person believes it. They can try to come up with projection whereby they’ll set up massive government programs and universal pre-K paid for by the government and then it’s just gonna go away?

They’re just gonna take it away after five years or whatever it’s supposed to “sunset”? No, of course not. They should be honest with the American people about what the real costs are, they should be honest about what the projection will be for inflation, and then let people either vote or support their elected members of Congress one way or the other, right? Push them one way or the other. 

Instead, what we have is this is the chocolate cake that doesn’t make you fat that you never run out of and that always tastes delicious. It’s just not real! There’s no way you can spend the kind of money they’re talking about and not have the downside effect. And it’s a huge tell, I think, that they can’t even be honest about it. You’re talking what the projections are. That’s in the CBO now, right?

CLAY: Yes. We’ve known this for a while, but these are the official number crunchers looking at the budget saying, “Look, guys. If you start these outlays and you continue them…” You don’t just decide suddenly in a few years, “Oh, yeah, the government’s not gonna spend that money anymore on the program. When has that ever happened, right? It’s not gonna spend the money it set up on a program? Then you’re looking at what was it, $3 trillion added to the debt? That’s big, folks. I know we’re almost at $30 trillion, but $3 trillion? Obama’s entire stimulus that started this Tea Party was $900 billion.

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