Forcing Democrats to look at the red ink in their spending plans
House Democrats’ squabbling over the size and content of a $3.5 trillion budget bill resulted in the delay of a vote on a trillion dollar (give or take) infrastructure bill. The votes weren’t there to pass the latter and, to hear House progressives tell it, they may be willing to scuttle the whole mess if they don’t get their way on spending.
All of which brings us to the focus of progressive ire: West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin. As Reason’s Eric Boehm writes, Manchin is forcing the left to confront an issue it pretends doesn’t matter/doesn’t exist: the federal deficit:
In a lengthy statement, Manchin spelled out the reasons he is unwilling to support the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package his fellow Democrats are hoping to push through Congress within the next few days or weeks. “Spending trillions more on new and expanded government programs,” he said, “when we can’t even pay for the essential social programs, like Social Security and Medicare, is the definition of fiscal insanity.” Manchin went on to say that he worries about how more government spending might drive inflation even higher, how higher taxes necessary to pay for that spending will make it harder for small businesses to compete with big retailers like Amazon, and how an expanded welfare state might slow the ongoing economic recovery.
That’s not to say Manchin, or anyone else on Capitol Hill of either major party, is so concerned about spending they will look to cut anything from the existing budget. That’s not how Washington works (now or ever). But the mere mention of even a hint of fiscal restraint counts as heresy in the Democratic party. That’s a shame – but hardly unexpected. And while the Congress will, eventually, approve some sort of bloated spending bill, making all of them look at the debt pile is useful.
Some will pretend it’s no big deal. But some might feel a pang of guilt at the costly burden they are imposing on future generations.