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Biden’s Build Back Better Framework: The Bad And The Ugly

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From a conservative standpoint, nothing good was ever going to come out of a massive reconciliation bill passed by President Biden and congressional Democrats.

All along, the only question was how bad the final legislation was going to be.

On Thursday morning, as part of the latest push to get something across the finish line, the White House unveiled a revised framework, with $1.75 trillion in new spending (plus an additional $100 billion if they can squeeze in immigration), which they seek to offset mostly by tax hikes.

One general way to think about the current Democratic proposal from a limited-government perspective is that while more federal spending is bad, not all spending is equally destructive in the long term.

When Democrats blow through money over a short period of time, it is less bad than anything that would create a permanent new entitlement.

And one silver lining of the current proposal is that, in order to trim the cost, many of the provisions expire within a few years, meaning that there will be a chance to unravel them with Republicans in charge.

To be sure, I have no faith in Republicans ever actively repealing government programs. But I have some glimmer of hope that if Republicans were in the majority, they would allow some of Biden’s signature legislative achievements to expire by simply doing nothing.

So, with that as prologue, I offer the following take on the current framework, which I divide into two categories: The Bad and The Ugly.

The Bad

Noticeably absent in the current framework is any sort of effort to reduce carbon emissions. Instead, the climate part of the bill is focused on $555 billion in clean-energy investments.

This might be the least-pernicious part of the bill, because it mostly blows a lot of money on encouraging clean energy, divided into tax credits, spending on “resilience,” subsidies for manufacturing such as on solar and batteries, and money for the government to purchase greener technologies, such as “clean construction materials.”

In a nod to FDR, it also includes a Civilian Climate Corps that would employ thousands of young people to work on climate change mitigation projects.

Again, none of this would be described as conservative legislating, but I’d much rather have lots of Solyndras than another Obamacare.

The bill would also extend the policy that provided families with up to $3,600 per year per child. Advertised as a child tax credit (but effectively, a monthly welfare payment), it was passed as part of the earlier $1.9 trillion spending package and liberals have been pushing to extend it.

The silver lining is that they were only able to find the money to expand it for one year, so there’s an opportunity for Republicans to let it lapse if they take control of either chamber of Congress.

Coupled with a one-year expansion of the earned-income tax credit, the White House projects it would cost $200 billion.

There are also a number of other one-off spending initiatives, including $150 billion on affordable housing, $40 billion on subsidies for post-high-school education, and $90 billion on a hodgepodge of “equity and other investments,” which the White House says would include, “maternal health, community violence initiatives, Native communities, disadvantaged farmers, nutrition, pandemic preparedness, supply-chain resilience, and other areas.”

Read the ugly rest at National Review

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