Negotiations over the multi-trillion-dollar Build Back Better (BBB) Act have broken down and President Biden’s massive, reckless spending bill appears to be on hold.
This was not the Christmas miracle that President Biden hoped for, but it is the gift that the American people need.
While households struggle under 39-year-high inflation, Congress was poised to rush through nearly $5 trillion worth of new federal spending that is likely to accelerate inflation, overheat the economy, and jeopardize the pandemic economic recovery.
The latest developments in negotiations over the bill are that left-leaning members of the Senate are pumping the breaks on President Biden’s signature bill over a number of concerns including its price tag, welfare expansions, amnesty provisions, and tax increases.
President Biden stepped into the negotiating chair to try to broker a deal directly with a key Democratic holdout, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. According to reports in Politico and the Wall Street Journal, negotiations have broken down with no deal in sight:
President Biden spoke with Mr. Manchin at least twice this week to try bringing him on board with the bill, which will need the support of all 50 members of the Senate Democratic caucus to pass. But Mr. Manchin has so far stood by his central critique of the package: that it temporarily funds programs that Democrats intend to later make permanent, as a way to disguise the full price of its provisions.
A person familiar with Mr. Manchin’s approach to the bill said the senator isn’t telling Mr. Biden what to include in the legislation. Mr. Manchin wants to keep the price of the bill at $1.75 trillion over a decade, according to the person, who added that a 10-year extension of the credit would on its own cost roughly $1.4 trillion.
“They are far apart,” the person familiar with the talks between Messrs. Biden and Manchin said.
The timing matters. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and many Democratic members of Congress had hoped to send this bill to the President’s desk for signature by Christmas.
Now, that arbitrary deadline has been thrown out of the window. Even if the Senate can muster the 50 votes needed to pass it, which they do not currently have, the revised bill would have to be voted on again by the House of Representatives.
With the urgency of an end-of-year deadline now in the rearview mirror and 2022 campaign mode kicking in, it’s questionable how much of a priority this legislation will continue to be or how many vulnerable legislators will want to attach their name to it.
The worst aspect of this bill is not even the pricetag
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office confirmed that the cost of the BBB is not $1.75 trillion, but actually nearly $5 trillion.
When the agency scored the bill’s provisions being made permanent—which is the actual goal of the legislation for most liberals—rather than to sunset early or delay their start, it found that the BBB is nearly four times more expensive than advertised.
Yet, as astronomical as the price tag is, the cost is not the worst aspect of this bill. What’s inside the bill is what is most troubling: How it will accelerate inflation, centralize control over family caregiving decisions, and move us closer to a socialist society. No wonder polling indicates that as Americans understand what’s inside the BBB, a majority of them they reject it.
Take childcare, for example. A new study released by University of Chicago Professor Casey Mulligan found that the BBB could raise childcare costs on middle-class families by as much as 122 percent. A family with an infant and a four-year-old could potentially pay as much as $27,000 more in annual childcare costs.
As our president, Carrie Lukas, explained to reporters
“The federal childcare and preschool proposal would be a disaster for American families. This latest report shows that the raft of new regulations would make it harder, not easier, for families to afford child care, leaving people with tens of thousands of dollars of higher bills.”
Raising costs just as families struggle with inflation is cruel. Even worse is reducing caregiving options for parents including squeezing out private, religious-based, and home-based care for our littlest ones–an all but certain outcome of the BBB.
IWF senior fellow Kristen Shapiro wrote recently:
Another problem with the legislation is that it threatens to crowd out family-based childcare and other more flexible, alternative childcare arrangements. Approximately 41% of children are cared for entirely by their parents. While some of these parents would gladly reenter the workforce if the cost of childcare were not an issue, many parents prefer to stay home with their children. About 60% of Americans think young children are better off with one parent at home. Another 22% of children receive care from a relative, often a grandparent.
Many additional children are cared for by providers offering alternative or part-time arrangements, many of whom would not qualify for government subsidies under the bill’s rigid requirements…
This means that well over 60% of current childcare arrangements would receive no support from the government under the Democrats’ plan, making these arrangements less attractive options should the legislation pass. By subsidizing one form of childcare and not others, the legislation would incentivize families to opt for the subsidized child care.
This is not just theoretical. Looking overseas to other countries that have tried to subsidize childcare and the outcomes were far from what Americans want.
In Japan and Quebec, researchers found that families shifted from family-based to center-based care because of the government-subsidized programs. There was little effect on maternal employment, but it caused more families in Japan to live apart from grandparents.
The BBB is on ice right now, but that doesn’t mean it is dead. It’s incumbent on us to continue to educate the public on the harmful impacts of this legislation as well as the partisan way it is being pursued and how much worse off American families would be if the BBB is enacted.