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An Unexamined Revolution

An Unexamined Revolution September 17, 2021

What if we had a revolution, but nobody noticed?

As I posted yesterday, President Biden’s $3.5 trillion social infrastructure bill that congressional Democrats vow to pass would have revolutionary consequences, vastly expanding the power and reach of the federal government, undermining the institution of the family, and damaging America’s educational system.

But all people are talking about is how much the bill would cost.  It is possible that this revolution will be pushed through with hardly any deliberation, study, or debate.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is rushing the bill through Congress with unprecedented haste, aiming to set up a reconciliation bill that would be impossible for the Senate to filibuster.  She has set a deadline for congressional action of September 27.

The specific provisions haven’t all been written yet, and when they are, lawmakers will have no time to read what will be a massively long document.  As she said with Obamacare, Congress will have to pass it in order to find out what is in it.  She wants approval of the money first, and then the details will be filled in.  But the details are exactly what need to be studied!

Normally, a bill goes through Congressional hearings, in which all sides scrutinize the measure and input from the public and people affected by the bill is solicited.  This bill, though monumentally more impactful than anything Congress has taken up in recent memory, will receive no such scrutiny.

As a Wall Street Journal editorial has noted, FDR’s New Deal was passed, program by program, over the course of two years.  And this was with big majorities of Democrats in both the House and the Senate.  It took LBJ two years to get approval of his Great Society initiative, again, with Democratic supermajorities.  Obamacare took 9 months.  Donald Trump’s tax reform took months.  But Nancy Pelosi is trying to push through President Biden’s plan in only 17 days.

The correct way to proceed would be to take up each of the proposals–for subsidized child care, adding universal pre-kindergarten, paying for two years of community college, reducing the use of fossil fuels, etc., etc.–separately, considering each on its own merits.

I was complaining that all the attention is going to the cost of the bill, rather than to its substance and the changes it will mean for American society.  But let’s look at the cost again.

The Democrats’ plan is to pay for the bill by imposing higher taxes on billionaires.  According to another Wall Street Journal editorial, there are 724 billionaires in the United States.  Their total net worth is $4.4 trillion.

That’s a lot of money.  But the Democrats’ two infrastructure bills would cost $4.5 trillion.

That means that if the federal government took all of the billionaires’ money, confiscating everything they own, that would still not be enough to pay for the programs they are proposing.

The social infrastructure proposal would spend the $3.5 trillion over ten years.  The physical infrastructure bill would spend its $1 trillion over five years.  But while the latter initiative could conceivably be shut down after the highways, bridges, and the like are all built, the larger measure establishes new entitlements.  It is unlikely that the government-provided day care and the new pre-kindergarten classes that would be added to every public school would be shut down after ten years of operations.  Entitlement programs are almost never taken away, once granted, even when an opposition party takes over.  These would surely become perpetual entitlements, and their vast cost would become perpetual expenses, no doubt going up decade after decade.

Obviously, this plan has not been thought through.  But the House and Senate, with their slim Democratic majorities, are determined to push it through anyway.

The reason for the haste, of course, is that Democrats know that their control of the House and possibly of the Senate may come to an end with the 2022 midterm elections.  The progressives believe that they need to act as soon as they can in order to implement their “transformative” agenda.  Once it is in place, they believe, it will be difficult to reverse.

Photo:  Nancy Pelosi by Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

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