The Democratic Party is going to pieces over trying to figure out how to cut their $3.5 trillion Build Back Better wish list of social programs down to less than $2 trillion. In trying to make the cuts, Democrats are showing just how far from reality their entire party has traveled.
The two major warring parties are those Democrats who want to use the $2 trillion to create a few permanent programs like augmenting Medicare by adding dental and vision benefits. The thinking of the more moderate Democrats is that making the programs permanent will make it nearly impossible for future Republican administrations to repeal them.
Then there are those more radical Democrats who want to create as many programs as possible and dare the GOP to cut them if they can. They would put expiration dates on the new programs to meet budget constraints, but if the Republicans try to repeal them, there will be war.
“We think we need to do a few things better, for longer, to provide that consistency,” said Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., the chair of the 95-member New Democrat Coalition.
She identified four priorities for the coalition: extending the $3,000 to $3,600 annual per-child cash payments to most families, continuing the expanded Obamacare subsidies under the American Rescue Plan, closing the Medicaid coverage gap and “going big” on measures to address climate change.
The narrower and deeper approach would avoid “short-term cliffs that mean important programs may not get extended,” she said.
Naturally, the radicals hate the idea of “choosing” anything. They want it all. And they want it now.
“If we have to trim a little, then what we would prefer to do is have our priorities and these programs fully represented but perhaps for a shorter number of years, because I don’t think we can pick and choose between child care and climate change,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., the chair of the 96-member Congressional Progressive Caucus, said Tuesday on MSNBC.
“I don’t think we can choose between pre-K and housing,” she said.
It reminds one of a toddler who doesn’t want to choose a flavor of ice cream and screams and screams and screams until you give him both.
One thing the Democrats are sure of is that once a benefit is offered by the government, it’s as close to being immortal as you can get on planet earth. There’s just no way that anyone will be able to cut or eliminate federal child care benefits or dental and vision benefits for seniors once they are in place.
In a meeting with Biden, a group of progressives argued Monday that $2.5 trillion to $2.9 trillion would be an acceptable size of the Build Back Better plan because, they argue, they can then keep everything in the bill, said two sources familiar with the meeting.
They argued forcefully to include all provisions of the plan but to fund them for a shorter time frame than the 10 years permitted under the budget rules.
The radicals know the American people well. They’ve studied us for decades and know what pushes our buttons.
Many of us would not have given Obamacare very long to live after the massive GOP victory at the polls in 2010. But Republicans frittered away the opportunity — an opportunity more illusory than real given Barack Obama’s ability to veto any repeal of his pet program. Obamacare is now a permanent fixture in American society and Democrats are set to build on it if they can pass their spending bill.
“There’s nothing as permanent as a temporary government program,” said wise man Milton Friedman. Democrats are about to prove that adage again and again.