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Legislative Math: Progressives Eyeing New Ways to Pass the Same Bill
Elizabeth Vaughn 10/5/2021 3:02 PM


Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal was remarkably cool on Friday afternoon after prospects for passing the Democrats' $3.5 trillion budget bill fell apart. She merely said, 'We have to come down.'

You may have wondered which entitlement programs they'd be willing to strip from the bill.

What became clear after listening to several House Democrats as they made the rounds on the Sunday talk shows was that they have no intention of removing any of them. They will merely fund the programs for shorter periods of time. It's called legislative math.

Speaking to CNN's Dana Bash, Jayapal said: "And so we are now going back to make sure, what is the way that we can get all of the critical programs that we had identified, those things I talked to you about, child care, paid leave plan ..."

"Yes, how do we get all of those things in, but -- and -- but perhaps for a shorter period of time, and be able to get then to the number from that?"

AOC told CBS’s Margaret Brennan that "Washington math is notoriously funny and you can make a $3 trillion into $2 trillion ... I think that one of the ideas that is out there is fully fund what we can fully fund, but maybe instead of doing it for 10 years, you fully fund it for five years.”

Finally, Fox News' Chris Wallace asked Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), "How do you get down to that lower number? Because there are two ways. One is that you push forward fewer proposals but back them more fully, or you keep all of the proposals but you give them sunset dates which, as we both know, is an old D.C. budget gimmick."

Khanna replied, "Chris, we can front-load the benefits and have less years."

Of course, the old D.C. budget gimmick.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who knows a thing or two about how bills are passed appeared on Fox News' America's Newsroom on Monday morning to explain: "You could write this bill to only fund the program for two years. That would shrink the whole bill. It'd be a lie. ... Now you'd be down to the number, in theory, Manchin and Sinema could vote for. I don't think they'll get away with that, but they could."

"I get a sense that it's getting harder and harder to put this together and that Biden on the road, in the middle of 400,000 people crossing the border illegally, with inflation rising, I'm not sure Biden's going to actually convince anybody that they need to be for this."

Co-host Dana Perino said, "Here's another possible tactic that they're going to use. And that would be to get all those programs AOC was talking about, put them all in the bill, but only fund them for two or three years, setting up basically for the Republicans to have to answer in 2024, 'Are you going to continue the child-tax credit and try to weaponize that issue?"

"Sure. Look, it'd be perfectly reasonable as a strategy. Now, the Congressional Budget Office and others would score it as permanent because they'd say it's not going to be dropped. That's what happened to the current bill. They call it $3.5 trillion, outside experts call it $5.5 trillion, because there's all sorts of sections to this $3.5 trillion bill that are not fully funded. But, you could, as a gimmick, come right down to $1.2 trillion, fund it for two years, and then look at Sinema and Manchin and say, alright, we met your cap. And I think that would be a very interesting game of chicken. It'd be bad for the country. It's a terrible way to legislate, but if you are a big government socialist and you're desperate to get all this money, it's a rational strategy."

An interesting editorial in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal suggests a few tricks Democrats have used in the past and will likely use again. They know it's nearly impossible to end an entitlement once it's been created. When it's time for an entitlement to be renewed, "sticker shock" sets in and nobody wants to be the one to end it.

The Journal uses the example of the $3,000 to $3,600 child credit which is estimated to cost $110 billion per year, or $1.1 trillion over a ten year period. It was recently discovered that the allowance ends after 2025. Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee had hidden this information. When it's time to fund the 2026 budget, "Democrats will accuse Republicans of raising taxes on families if the GOP ever tries to end it."

Or take the bill’s accounting for its child-care program, which runs on paper through 2027. The bill provides three years of fixed funding ($90 billion) for the states, but starting in fiscal 2025 opens the entitlement spigots to “such sums as may be necessary” to run the program through its (fictitious) end date.

Democrats likewise mask the price of their universal pre-K entitlement by annually shifting more of its cost to the states. Similar ploys cloak the real costs of paid family leave, free community college, and expanded Medicaid and Medicare.

As this debate unfolds, the programs are more important to watch than the top-line budget number. Democrats can and will game the latter to make everything look less costly than it is. Once these programs are in place, the real cost will be many, many trillions of dollars, and taxpayers will pay for decades to come.

Democrats are desperate to ram both the $1.2 trillion and the $3.5 trillion bills through Congress. Both will ultimately cost significantly more than they let on. We simply cannot afford this kind of spending. Except for a portion of the $1.2 trillion physical infrastructure bill, the U.S. doesn't need any of this new spending. It will merely create new unnecessary entitlements and send inflation into the stratosphere.

Let's hope Manchin and Sinema stand strong.

I'll leave you with this:

#BuildBackBetter #ChildTaxCredit

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Elizabeth Vaughn
Elizabeth Vaughn is a contract writer at The Western Journal and a current contributor to American Free News Network. She is a former contributor to RedState, Newsmax, The Dan Bongino Show, and The Federalist. Her articles have also appeared on Instapundit, RealClearPolitics, MSN, Hot Air, The Gateway Pundit, Ricochet and other sites. Prior to blogging, Elizabeth was a financial consultant at Merrill Lynch and an independent equity trader. She is a wife, a mom to three grown children and several beloved golden retrievers, and a grandmother.

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