Joe Manchin has made it clear that, insofar as he is on board with Biden’s agenda at all, he wants a bill that is not based upon accounting gimmicks, that contains no new handouts or permanent programs, and that does not feature anything that can’t pass the Senate.
So, naturally, Nancy Pelosi is gearing up to finalize a bill that meets none of these conditions. In a piece titled, “In Spending Bill, Democrats Rely on Budget Gimmicks They Once Derided,” the New York Times records that:
at an impromptu news conference this week, Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, lamented the “shell games” and “budget gimmicks” he said his party was using to artificially reduce the $1.85 trillion price tag of the spending bill moving through Congress, saying the real cost was probably double that amount.
“This is a recipe for economic crisis,” Mr. Manchin warned, suggesting that he would not support a bill without understanding its potential impact on the economy.
But, as the Times notes, those “shell games” and “budget gimmicks” are exactly what Manchin would get if the House’s bill were to pass:
budget experts, along with some moderate Democrats, say the true cost of the legislation will be closer to $4 trillion because of the way the programs are structured and accounted for in the budgetary process. For instance, many of the provisions in Mr. Biden’s framework would expire, or “sunset” after only few years, even though Democrats anticipate that they would eventually be extended.
The Center for a Responsible Federal Budget, a fiscal watchdog group, suggested that the true cost of the legislation Democrats are crafting could be around $4 trillion given the number of expiring programs.
Inexplicably, Pelosi’s bill also contains paid leave and medical leave — two provisions that Manchin has explicitly said cannot pass the Senate’s reconciliation rules — and a reinstatement of the SALT deduction that is so utterly preposterous that it has provoked left-leaning economists to begin tearing out their hair in public. Last night, Jason Furman, an economic adviser to President Obama, wrote on Twitter that:
Just the value of this 7.5K increase to the original $72.5K cap is larger than the entire child tax credit expansion for a middle-class family with two children.And this increase alone will go almost exclusively to households making over $1 million. Why are they doing this?
Why are they doing this? They’re doing this for the same reason that they put paid and medical leave back in, and for the same reason they’re relying so heavily on budget gimmicks: because they’re trying to push through sweeping political change with a House majority of eight and a tied Senate, because they need every vote they can find, and because, in this specific case, that means creating a targeted tax break for millionaires who live in the constituencies of three members from New York and New Jersey.
If they were sensible, Democrats would recognize that they don’t have the numbers, or the support, or the momentum to do what they are trying to do. But they’re not sensible. They’re off their meds. So they’re chaotically cobbling together whatever they think can get 218 votes in the House, and praying that Joe Manchin won’t mind if, like Ron Klain and the president, Nancy Pelosi makes a fool out of him once again.