After last week’s shocking election results in Virginia, New Jersey, and elsewhere, many commentators cautioned national Democrats to rethink forging ahead with Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda.
The moderate Democrat who has been at the center of much of the party’s attention, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), said that the elections sent a message that “if we’re going to do something, let’s do it right.” He added that it was critically important that “people know what’s in it.” Manchin added that Biden’s spending plan goes into “revamping the entire tax code,” which is “mammoth.” He criticized the approach of Democratic leadership, pointing out that there had been no open hearings regarding the budget reconciliation bill.
By Wednesday of last week, as the elections from the day before were still dominating the news, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ran out what was called a “final version” of the budget reconciliation bill, totaling 2,145 pages, which was several hundred pages longer than the last “final” version Democrats rolled out days before.
Some essential modifications to last week’s version of the spending bill included returning Medicare drug pricing “negotiations” and paid family and medical leave to the bill. The current draft also adds provisions providing illegal aliens with services and benefits paid for by taxpayers, essentially attempting to compromise between supporters and opponents of amnesty and a pathway to citizenship as part of the spending bill.
Pelosi is also charging ahead without official analysis and “scoring” of the proposal by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). No CBO scoring has been issued to date on any of the Democratic spending bill proposals.
Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), who is chair of the House Budget Committee, has hand-waved away objections to proceeding without CBO scoring, saying that anyone who doesn’t have a “pretty good idea of the net investment” is not “really taking the time to look at it.”
Although a CBO score has room for substantial flaws and oversights, it would likely serve at least as a way of highlighting the worst effects of the proposed spending spree on the inflation already plaguing the nation. The coming days will tell us whether Democratic leadership is willing to erode further their party’s chances at holding on to power after next year’s midterm elections.