Former Sen. Everett Dirksen (R-IL) supposedly said long ago, “A billion here and a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.” I still can’t grasp that we’re talking about trillions here and trillions there, and no one is carting anyone off to the funny farm.
Yet here we are, having spent trillions already in the last 18 months, spending another trillion-plus on “infrastructure” and soon to consider a “scaled down” bill of another $1.75 trillion. The latter spending bill is bad enough, but the changing of the social, cultural and economic structure of our country would be cataclysmic.
Some folks cheered the passage of the infrastructure bill because we need to build and repair roads, bridges, airports, water infrastructure and electric transmission lines. Rural folks need better internet access. But that’s only about $240 billion of the $1 trillion. The rest will go to railroads—some of which could help agriculture, but it is more likely to end up in big city rail systems and public transportation rural folks will never see.
Some $50 billion is allocated to “protect against” droughts, floods and wildfires. I’m sure there are some things to reduce the impact of catastrophes, like more reservoirs, better river control and using intelligent forest management instead of enviro-zealot-driven policies.
The question is, with Biden’s revitalized and empowered Environmental Protection Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers and legal challenges from environmental groups, will we see any of these useful projects in our lifetime?
The Congressional Budget Office has estimated the infrastructure bill would add $256 billion to the budget deficit over 10 years.
Other items could be better handled by the cities and states that need them, including electric cars and buses, lead water pipe replacement, road safety, environmental cleanup and electric vehicle charging stations.
After weeks of back-and-forth negotiations, President Joe Biden unveiled the Build Back Better (BBB) plan, a $1.75 trillion framework of funding for social programs and climate initiatives. Within the framework are programs that would greatly impact agriculture, including funding for conservation programs, public lands restoration, forestry, drought resistance and biofuels.
The reconciliation bill, which only requires a simple majority in both chambers, has been the Holy Grail for the far left progressives in Congress. President Joe Biden calls it his “Build Back Better” plan, but the truth is these things never existed in America—they’re not “build-backs.” Staggering are the taxes required to spend another couple trillion dollars. Even the densest of citizens know Biden is plumb looney claiming it will cost zero dollars.
But government programs for prekindergarten kids, expansions of Medicare and Medicaid already nearing insolvency, expanded home healthcare pushed by the Services Employees International Union and climate mitigation would change America.
The ranchers I know have a long-term vision of the importance of a good education to the future of their kids, their communities and our country.
The voters in Virginia’s recent elections showed fury with their school districts and the contemptuous attitude of their school boards. I said last spring that if a person didn’t like the new direction of our country, the anger demonstrated at school board meetings around the country was a good sign, an early warning signal.
That signal has increased. Do voters, already unhappy with the systems we have, want government school systems to begin poorly educating and earnestly indoctrinating dubious versions of our country’s history and culture with 3- and 4-year-olds?
The reconciliation bill calls for $400 billion for childcare and universal preschool. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) opposed family leave, and it was removed—and then a four-week program reinserted. Some $200 billion is for extending the higher Child Tax Credit and expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit.
For the elderly, there is $150 billion for home care. Another $150 billion is for the rehabilitation and construction of new homes and affordable housing, rental assistance and housing vouchers. There is $40 billion for higher education and workforce development. Some $90 billion for “equity and other investments” in maternal health, community violence interventions and nutrition.
There is another $10 billion for child nutrition: Rob from cattlemen’s taxpayer pockets and put some in their beef production pocket.
The bill increases state and local tax deductions for those in high tax brackets. There’s an agreement to save government costs for Medicare and Medicaid by negotiating prescription drug prices. Don’t ask me what they do now—sounds like another unfathomable government boondoggle. Obamacare subsidies total $160 billion, and there’s $35 billion for Medicare hearing coverage.
The monster hit is $550 billion-plus for clean energy and climate, with a 2030 emissions reduction target and—supposedly—creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.
The corporate minimum tax would be for companies making over $1 billion—for now.
Certainly, there are hidden nuggets in Nancy Pelosi’s typical Easter egg legislative approach. — Steve Dittmer, WLJ columnist
(Steve Dittmer is the author of the Agribusiness Freedom Foundation newsletter. Views in the column do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of WLJ or its editorial staff.)