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Free Market Economy

Build Back Better is more about handouts than human infrastructure

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If passed, the ambitious legislative plan proposed by Biden, known as “Build Back Better,” will be the defining achievement of his Presidency. 

Elements of this agenda have been implemented over the course of 2021, while other more contentious aspects are still subject to ongoing deliberation and debate.

In theory, it’s supposed to be a public spending plan to fix America’s crumbling infrastructure. In reality, it’s scope is far broader than that. Social and climate change policy has crept into the legislation and the bill is riddled with handouts for special interest groups who want a piece of the pie. 

Biden stated, to the great amusement of many, that the $3.5 trillion (at the least) Build Back Better is revenue neutral, as it would be paid for by taxes on the wealthy and the increase in economic activity from better infrastructure. 

This is simply a lie. There is nobody on the planet who can calculate the potential gains years into the future accurately, and the money printing that will be inevitably necessary to help fund this venture will exacerbate the already problematic inflation issue, effectively stealing the wealth of the average American saver.

What is the status of the Build Back Better plan?

The first part of President Biden’s Build Back Better plan, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, was signed into law on March 11, 2021. This stimulus package had almost unanimous support from House Democrats but was opposed by every Republican. A stipulation to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour was originally included, but was subsequently removed in order to secure the backing of moderate Democrats.

The next part of President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda to be addressed was the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill drawn extensively from the President’s original American Jobs Plan. On November 5, 2021, the House of Representatives passed this bill, with the vote once again split almost entirely along party lines. As this had previously passed in the Senate, it subsequently went directly to President Biden, who signed it into law on November 15.

Then, on November 19, after a series of negotiations, the House passed the Build Back Better Act, largely drawn from President Biden’s original American Families Plan. First set to cost roughly $3.5 billion before being revised down to around $1.75 billion, this highly controversial social spending bill is expected to be “funded” through new and increased taxes on wealthier Americans as well as printing more money.

Currently, the Build Back Better Act faces an uphill battle in the Senate. The Democratic Party will hope that senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Krysten Sinema (D-AZ), both key moderate democrats, can make satisfactory changes to the bill that would allow it to be passed through the reconciliation process, thus requiring only 50 votes as opposed to the 60-vote threshold needed to pass revenue changing bills.

All signs are pointing to a prospect of defeat for Democrats in 2022 midterms. This has made the passage of this legislation existential for Democrats – the Build Back Better Act carries the weight of the DNC’s hopes for winning, or at least mitigating losses, in 2022.

What does the current bill contain?

First and foremost, if implemented in its current form, the Build Back Better Act contains the framework for an increase in federal government spending by around $1.75 trillion at the very least. However, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimated that the total cost of a permanent Build Back Better Act could reach $4.9 trillion — or around $34,000 per federal taxpayer.

Such massive increases in government spending will only compound America’s debt crisis – an issue that has yet to be adequately addressed. Nonetheless, President Biden makes the false claim that his social spending plans will “cost nothing,” on account of plans to increase tax revenue to offset the costs. In an attempt to achieve this, the Biden administration has plans to tax unrealized capital gains, expand the IRS, increase the tax on corporations making at least $1 billion, and raise taxes on those in high income brackets.

The efficacy of these plans to offset costs is almost certainly overestimated, yet even in the best case scenario, the Build Back Better Act is expected to result in a net increase in the deficit. According to the Congressional Budget Office, over the next decade, the implementation of the Build Back Better Act would result in a net increase to the deficit amounting to an estimated $150.7 billion.

Handouts from the Build Back Better Act

Aside from its enormous cost, the Build Back Better Act is so controversial because it touches on a number of hot topic issues such as new subsidies, paid parental leave, expansion of medicare and medicaid, management of natural resources, and many more. These proposals are engineered to act as handouts to Biden’s political allies and are just the most recent example of cronyism in action. 

The Build Back Better Act includes a new electric vehicle tax credit of up to $12,500, benefiting those fortunate enough to be in a position to buy brand new cars. This maximum credit would apply to purchases of American-made vehicles produced by unionized companies.

This would effectively exclude Tesla, which has by far the greatest market share for electric vehicles in the U.S. but is not unionized. As such, the bill would make it easier for legacy players, often based in swing states such as Michigan, to compete with Tesla.

For purchases from manufacturers not meeting this criteria, the amount of credit would decrease, but would nonetheless be applicable to households earning as much as $500,000.

The Build Back Better Act also includes a provision for $162.9 billion in funding towards “environmental and climate justice.” The investment is supported by the Equitable and Just National Climate Platform, an organization that has pushed hard for the provision to be included.

Also included in the bill is a provision for a new universal preschool program. $18 billion would be spent over an initial three years, with funding set to subsequently be shared between the state and federal government. 

Furthermore, in an attempt to “revive” local news, the bill contains a provision for $1.67 billion to be allocated, over five years, for newspapers, online news sites, radio and television stations, and additional organizations that focus on local news. This essentially constitutes a handout to a dying industry, and could have implications in terms of a free press.

Particularly when considering the latter sets of provisions, the Build Back Better Act represents an obvious attempt by the Biden administration to gain favor with certain specific sections of the electorate in the hopes it will help Democrats in the polls.

Biden’s legacy hinges on this bill, and it’s one of the biggest gambles in living memory. Are we really willing to risk the prosperity of future generations on a multi-trillion dollar throw of the dice?

To read more content on the U.S. economy, be sure to check out our piece on the root causes of America’s debt crisis by clicking on the button below.



This piece solely expresses the opinion of the author and not necessarily the organization as a whole. Students For Liberty is committed to facilitating a broad dialogue for liberty, representing a variety of opinions. If you’re a student interested in presenting your perspective on this blog, send your piece to [email protected], and mention SFL Blog in the email subject line for your chance to be published and be seen!

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