Biden Budget Doubles Down on Harmful Policies | Citizens Against Government Waste

Biden Budget Doubles Down on Harmful Policies

The WasteWatcher

President Joe Biden’s proposed fiscal year (FY) 2023 Budget, released on March 28, 2022, showcases the administration’s ongoing efforts to enact a progressive agenda.  If implemented, key provisions of the budget would further erode the distinction among the different levels of government and its annual trillion dollar-plus deficits and concomitant increases in the national debt will devastate the economy and undermine national security.

One of the most disturbing aspects of the budget is the inclusion of billions of dollars more for projects that already received funding under several COVID-19 relief bills and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).  

Among the projects that would receive new federal funding is the Department of Agriculture’s ReConnect Program, which has already distributed more than $1.15 billion to broadband projects across the country.  There is $65 billion for broadband in the IIJA, administered through the National Telecommunication Information Administration.  According to Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr, as much as $800 billion is already available that could be used for broadband deployment.  The potential for even more broadband money flowing to the states raises already high concerns about overbuilding and the development of wasteful government-owned broadband networks (GONs).   

The Biden administration is already forcing ReConnect Phase III grant recipients to implement harmful and unnecessary net neutrality restrictions and promote the development of GONs.  Given the history and the increased risk of overbuilding by using taxpayer dollars for GONs, decision-makers at the state and local level should ensure that existing and new broadband funding be used only to reach unserved and underserved individuals.

The IIJA also set aside $30.7 billion that could be spent on the construction of electric vehicle charging stations and similar projects.  The President’s budget calls for an additional $1.4 billion to be spent through grants to the states in 2023 for this Green New Deal initiative, even while Americans across the country are already facing record-high fuel costs following his executive order cancelling the Keystone XL pipeline and banning fracking across the country.

The IIJA sets aside $13.2 billion for passenger and freight rail in 2023.  President Biden’s proposed budget goes beyond that with an additional $17.9 billion for passenger and freight rail investments and expansion.  If enacted, this part of the budget would allocate $31.1 billion for rail spending in 2023 alone, more than 15 times the total allocated to rail projects in 2021.  Notably, the budget singles out the President’s favorite mode of transportation, Amtrak, as the primary recipient of this funding, despite the company’s inability to turn a profit at any point in its 51-year history and its long track record of problems.

Like the COVID-19 relief bills, the IIJA, and the Build Back Better Act (BBBA), which President Biden is trying to revive in his budget, many provisions of the budget would perpetuate the system of federal grants that have made the states subservient to the federal government.  Doubling down on existing grant programs promises to further flood state coffers as lawmakers struggle to spend the excessive money they already have from prior COVID relief bills and provides far too many opportunities to invest in wasteful and unsustainable programs.  

If Congress adopts major elements of this budget, it will not only bankrupt the nation as a whole, but it will also destroy the finances of each individual state.  Before they received billions of dollars in COVID relief funds, many states and localities lacked the financial reserves to weather even a moderate recession.  The President’s wish list would relieve them of the need to prepare for the next pandemic, recession, or depression.

The key element of the President’s budget, however, is the clear effort to force states to implement the administration’s preferred policies through coercion.  This approach allows the federal government to force states to become unwilling contributors to programs they would not usually support, including elements of the Green New Deal and the forced expansion of Medicaid.   

Although the President’s budget proposal effectively acts as a wish list and doesn’t determine the projects that Congress will ultimately choose to fund, recent history shows that the Biden administration will take advantage of every opportunity available to force states to adopt its priorities by imposing restrictions through regulatory fiat on federal funds.  Both the IIJA and the so far failed BBBA relied heavily on money sent to the states to accomplish their objectives.  As members of Congress begin to examine the proposed budget and make decisions for FY 2023, they should be wary of attempts to force through harmful economic policies.  At the very least, lawmakers should hold off on sending even more unnecessary spending to the states until existing funding is accounted for and exhausted.

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