Up to now, to the extent that the Democrats have made the case for their Build Back Better bill, theyve made it, all too inaudibly, on the benefits it will be providing. They need to do that far more emphatically now, but with one all-important twist. As inflation has now become a very real national problem, and not necessarily one thats all that ephemeral, its time to make the case that the bill reduces the very expenses most Americans struggle to meet.
Joe Manchinwhose closest biblical analogue appears to be the God who torments Jobnow says that inflation may be sufficient reason for him to back off his commitment to President Biden to support a $1.75 trillion bill. The logic behind such a shift is nonexistent: Rather than fueling higher costs, the bill will lift a host of financial burdens on our citizenry. Indeed, the bill targets a number of sectors where prices have been out of control for years.
For instance, drug prices. The bill significantly reduces the ceiling on seniors out-of-pocket yearly drug payments from $6,000 to $2,000 and authorizes the government to negotiate down the price of a number of medications (not a high enough number, but its a start).
For instance, child care. The bill allots funds to ensure that a familys child care payments dont exceed 7 percent of their income and establishes universal pre-K for three- and four-year-olds.
For instance, child-rearing. The bill extends the Child Tax Credit, albeit for only one year, but that doesnt preclude its extension.
For instance, the cost of collegewell, that was addressed in the original bills provision to make community college tuition free, but the dull adamance of Manchin & Co. caused this anti-inflation provision to be dropped from the current bill.
Assuming, as appears likely, that the bill makes it through the House next week, theres one provision that the Senate should add to it when it then comes before them that would help Americans cope with the rising cost of oil and gas: additional subsidies for heating oil this winter. Republicans are already poised to unanimously reject all these various anti-inflation provisions; as theyre determined to vote down heating oil subsidies as part of the bill, too, well, let em.
The causes of the current bout of inflationsupply chain gridlock, a shift in purchases from services to more costly goodshave nothing to do with government spending, the blather of the Manchinites to the contrary notwithstanding. Rather than using inflation as an ostensible reason to further cut the BBB bill, Democrats need to highlight how it will reduce the expenses for which Americans are compelled to shell out every day.
Want to cut costs? Pass the damn bill.