Clay and Buck

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What Will Manchin Do? Build Back Better on the Brink

13 Dec 2021

CLAY: Good editorial today in the Wall Street Journal. The headline is: “The Real Cost of Biden’s Spending Plan,” Build Back Better. The Democrats are trying to ram this through. Remember it’s passed in the House, has not passed in the Senate. They’re trying to get 50 votes. Joe Manchin of West Virginia is holding it up. And there was a significant detail that came out over the weekend. Friday. This kind of got buried into the news.

The CBO, which is the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, was asked to get the actual cost of the Joe Biden plan. Remember, they’re trying to say that it cost zero, that it’s gonna be paid for, and the way that they’ve sunset different provisions makes it seem like it’s gonna cost — and this is a direct line: “The 18 programs itemized in the table in his letter to Congress will add just shy of $3.5 trillion over 10 years to the total cost of the House bill compared to Democrats saying it’s gonna cost $889 billion.”

So this idea that it’s fully paid for is not true. Why is this significant? Well, Joe Manchin, senator from West Virginia, has been saying (summarized), “Hey, it doesn’t seem to me,” and I think he’s right, “that spending trillions of dollars extra is the best response when we’ve got a 6.8% right now inflation rate, the highest since 1982.” So he was asked just now in the last hour about whether he’s likely to support Build Back Better. Big day because he is scheduled to meet with president, I understand, and this is what Joe Manchin had to say.

MANCHIN: …what we can afford. And that means, uh, having a tax plan that that’s, uh, fair and equitable and keeps us competitive but also makes everyone pay, especially the wealthy pay their fair share too. See what that spins off, and if that’s in that one-seven range and we should be spending whatever in that range, as far as I’m concerned. If it’s whatever plan it would be, then it should be 10 years.

It shouldn’t just be one year here, three years here, five years there, and that would be… That would be… I think it would be very transparent for the public to see exactly what they’d be getting for overspending for 10 years. Inflation is real. It’s not transitory. It’s alarming. It’s going up, not down, and I think that should be something we’re concerned about.

BUCK: The Democrats have been lying about this, Clay, to sell it. I mean, the Biden administration’s lying. When they say this won’t add a penny to the deficit, that’s a lie. No serious person believes it. They can try to come up with projection whereby they’ll set up massive government programs and universal pre-K paid for by the government and then it’s just gonna go away?

They’re just gonna take it away after five years or whatever it’s supposed to “sunset”? No, of course not. They should be honest with the American people about what the real costs are, they should be honest about what the projection will be for inflation, and then let people either vote or support their elected members of Congress one way or the other, right? Push them one way or the other.

Instead, what we have is this is the chocolate cake that doesn’t make you fat that you never run out of and that always tastes delicious. It’s just not real! There’s no way you can spend the kind of money they’re talking about and not have the downside effect. And it’s a huge tell, I think, that they can’t even be honest about it. You’re talking what the projections are. That’s in the CBO now, right?

CLAY: Yes. We’ve known this for a while, but these are the official number crunchers looking at the budget saying, “Look, guys. If you start these outlays and you continue them…” You don’t just decide suddenly in a few years, “Oh, yeah, the government’s not gonna spend that money anymore on the program. When has that ever happened, right? It’s not gonna spend the money it set up on a program? Then you’re looking at what was it, $3 trillion added to the debt? That’s big, folks. I know we’re almost at $30 trillion, but $3 trillion? Obama’s entire stimulus that started this Tea Party was $900 billion.

The question here now — and it’s interesting, Buck, because if you read the Wall Street Journal, they’re basically — the editorial page writers of the Wall Street Journal are — having a daily conversation with Joe Manchin making the case that he needs to stick to his guns and that the overall cost of this Build Back Better bill is massive. In fact, their closing argument here is:

“All of this gives Mr. Manchin, and other Democrats hiding behind his skepticism, ample ammunition to call the whole thing off. If this bill passes, they’ll own all of the deficits, debt and inflation that result,” and we just have to hope at this point — because we’re in a 50-50 Senate where every senator is effectively king — that Joe Manchin and or Kyrsten Sinema (who’s a little bit hidden as well) are going to be willing to stand up to this. And you would hope that at a minimum Manchin is gonna say, “Hey, let’s push this into 2022,” and the truth of the matter is this. Democrats are going to become increasingly nervous about trying to pass this bill in a year when the midterms are happening.

BUCK: Right. The flip side —

CLAY: So that’s why it’s significant.

BUCK: — if they don’t pass it what the heck have the Democrats done since Biden became president other than mess everything up that they’ve touched. Peter Doocy, by the way, over at Fox News, Clay, was just asked about this during the White House press conference about the CBO scoring of Build Back Better. Here’s what he said.

DOOCY: The president says that the Build Back Better is not gonna add a penny to the deficit. CBO has this new score where they assume that social programs are gonna be made permanent and in that case, it would add almost $3 trillion. So does that mean that President Biden will commit that these programs are not gonna be made permanent?

PSAKI: What you’re talking about here is a fake CBO score that is not based on the actual bill that anybody is voting on. This is a request by Senator Graham to score a bill that is not currently being debated. But it’s important to understand that when anybody raises a question about this new CBO score, it is a fake score about a bill that doesn’t exist.

BUCK: She’s lying to you, folks.

CLAY: Lying. A hundred percent lying. The reason why Senator Graham, to his credit, requested the CBO to score this is because Democrats are trying to camouflage their excessive spending by making it seem like these entitlement programs are just going to stop after a couple of years. So they say, “Oh, it only costs…” There’s some examples in here of the difference. It’s pretty wild. If you say, for instance, “Oh, we’re gonna say the child care allowance…” Democrats are saying it will only cost $185 billion because it ends, Buck, after one year. Instead, it’s gonna cost 1.6 trillion over the next 10 years. That is real significant money.

BUCK: Seems like a big difference to me.

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