It’s been less than 2 weeks since President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion mis-named pandemic relief bill, but Democrats on the Hill are already licking their chops at the prospect of spending even more.
This time, the excuse will be an “infrastructure bill” to fix bridges and roads, rebuild water mains and water treatment facilities, bury the electrical grid, — all done in accordance with environmental regulations and designed to end “systemic racism.” The bill would also stop global warming. And legalize 11 million illegal aliens. And fix prescription pricing. And add a few other odds and ends, leading one wag to dub the bill “The Kitchen Sink Stimulus.”
After taxpayers get a look at what Democrats have planned, they’re going to want to throw that “kitchen sink” through a window in the Capitol building.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Chuck Schumer haven’t formally decided to use the budgetary tool known as reconciliation for Biden’s next major priority, an infrastructure and jobs plan. Biden and top Democrats are still publicly courting Republicans for his proposal. But given the Senate GOP’s continued reluctance, many senior Democrats in both chambers believe it will be the ultimate path.
House Democrats are in discussions to include two of the caucus’s signature bills — one, a drug pricing bill known as H.R. 3, and another a sweeping green infrastructure bill known as H.R. 2 — as part of the next reconciliation package, according to people familiar with their plans. Both would be enormous wins for Pelosi, whose caucus drafted the measures soon after retaking the majority in 2019.
With Democrats beating the drums for filibuster “reform,” even more budget-busting measures could become a reality. Obviously, the GOP’s main priority should be to do all they can to keep the Democrats from gutting minority rights. If they can keep the filibuster, Democrats would still do plenty of damage but they would be limited by that pesky Senate parliamentarian who put a roadblock their way while the Senate debated the last stimulus bill.
This time, it appears that Democrats will try to pass immigration reform using reconciliation. That effort is likely to fail unless Vice President Kamala Harris overturns the parliamentarian’s ruling. Last time, when the issue was minimum wage, she and the president came under enormous pressure from their radical base to violate Senate traditions and overturn the ruling. They resisted the pressure then, but what about the future? Biden is in danger of seeing his entire radical agenda effectively blocked by Republicans unless he gives in at some point. And despite his professed love of the Senate and its traditions, Biden may not have a choice but to support rules that guarantee a tyranny of the majority.
But the Democratic civil war may yet save the day.
Then there’s the problem of securing 218 votes: The more sprawling the package, the harder it becomes to lock down support across the caucus — a tougher task generally given the Democrats’ razor-thin margin.
Democrats concede that another massive partisan package is far from the ideal option under a president who often boasts of his track record of working across the aisle. But many also foresee a struggle to reach an agreement with Republicans on the contours of the infrastructure plan, not to mention how to pay for it.
Biden won’t do much arm-twisting. He’ll leave the dirty work to the radicals who are far better at threatening to primary a member who doesn’t play ball.
Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers warned that “the U.S. is suffering from the “least responsible” macroeconomic policy in four decades, pointing the finger at both Democrats and Republicans for creating “enormous” risks.”
Larry, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.