Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion ‘Build Back Better” plan is in deep trouble. Moderates believe it’s too expensive and radicals think it doesn’t go far enough.
But what the Build Back Better plan suffers from is a lack of clarity about what’s in it for the American people. The bill would expand several popular government programs — with dental, vision, and hearing aid benefits added for Medicare, and Obamacare subsidies expanded and extended.
But Joe Biden has gotten sidetracked in recent weeks as reality came calling and he had to answer. The Afghanistan debacle and the return of high rates of pandemic infections have prevented the president from taking advantage of the late summer lull caused by Congress not being in session to barnstorm the country to sell his agenda.
“This is a case where the parts are greater than the sum: It’s important for people to know what the parts are, they are very popular and would have a very positive impact on people’s life,” David Axelrod, former senior adviser to President Barack Obama told AP. “But it’s become a battle over price tag and that’s unappealing. That’s the battlefield where Republicans want Democrats to fight.”
“‘Building Back Better’ doesn’t say to people what we are building back — at least when you talk about bridges, people have an idea,” said Robert Blendon, a longtime public opinion analyst at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “It’s the price you pay when you are not dealing with a single issue. … ‘Building Back’ is the slogan, but there’s just no evidence that the public grasps what is in this bill.”
Urging Americans to buy a pig in a poke is never a good idea. Remember Nancy Pelosi during the debate over passing Obamacare: “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy.”
In fact, after the various agencies wrote regulations for it, Obamacare became a nightmare for insurance companies, insureds, and the entire health care industry. It was even worse than Republicans were claiming it was going to be.
Multiply the problems that will come up with the Build Back Better monstrosity by a factor of 10. The bill touches so many federal programs, involving tens of millions of people. It’s breathtaking to contemplate the scope and breadth of this bill — and the hubris of the radical lawmakers who are trying to write it.
They are trying but not having much luck.
White House aides say this is not the right time for Biden to be barnstorming to promote his agenda. They note that key Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia are not generally responsive to national political pressure — and certainly not to presidential demands.
Aides believe it’s a better for Biden to talk through exactly what will be necessary to get those two Democrats on board. The president canceled plans for a Wednesday visit to Chicago to promote vaccinations so that he could remain in Washington as negotiations reach a critical stage.
Both Manchin and Sinema’s demands are simple: drastically cut the size and scope of the bill. Biden is prevented from doing that by the radicals who made $3.5 trillion a floor for a spending bill that they originally proposed should be $6 trillion.
The only way the Build Back Better bill will be passed is if Biden substantially cuts it. The radicals have already made it clear they won’t take half a loaf so the possibility of a total Democratic meltdown grows by the hour.