Build Back Better Act: Not Dead Yet | Citizens Against Government Waste

Build Back Better Act: Not Dead Yet

The WasteWatcher

The $1.75 trillion Build Back Better Act (BBBA) (whose real cost is $4.9 trillion) has had a tough week.

On Wednesday, December 15, headlines read, “Democrat Leadership Struggles to Gain Support for President Biden’s Build Back Better Bill,” and “Is President Joe Biden's 'Build Back Better' Plan Dead?,” and “Graham Says He Thinks Biden’s Build Back Better is ‘Dead Forever,’” and “Manchin and Sinema Continue to Stand in Way of Build Back Better.” 

On Thursday, December 16, President Biden admitted that the gigantic spending bill probably would not pass before the end of the year.  He said Democrats would work to advance the legislation "over the days and weeks ahead" and that it “takes time to finalize these agreements, prepare the legislative changes, and finish all the parliamentary and procedural steps needed to enable a Senate vote.”  On Friday, December 17, the Senate focused on judicial nominations, making it official that the BBBA would not be considered before the end of the year.

While taxpayers are getting a nice Christmas present with this delay and are hoping that Senate Budget Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is correct that the BBBA is “dead forever,” the BBBA is not dead.  It is a wounded beast and that is when  these creatures are most dangerous.  While the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) original score pegged the BBBA costing $1.7 trillion over 10 years and increasing the deficit by $367 million, Sen. Graham and House Budget Committee Ranking Member Jason Smith (R-Mo.) asked the CBO to re-score the bill assuming that new spending programs in the bill would not sunset in two years and instead remain permanent, as Democrats truly intended.  The new cost using these parameters is $4.9 trillion over ten years, and the deficit would be increased by $3 trillion.

The holdup in consideration of the BBBA is due to concerns over its provisions and costs raised by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) and Kirsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), as well as the Senate parliamentarian’s analysis of the bill under the Byrd rule, which prohibits “extraneous” provisions from being included in a reconciliation bill.  The review and the negotiations with Sens. Manchin (mostly) and Sinema have led to changes being made on a daily basis.  Since budget reconciliation only requires 50 votes, all Democrats need to vote for the bill. 

The BBBA draws many proposals from the Green New Deal that would spend billions of dollars “investing in clean” energy, which means moving away from fossil fuels, relying more on inefficient wind turbines and solar panels, enormous environmental trade-offs, and more expensive subsidies paid for by taxpayers in higher fuel prices to heat their homes and fuel their cars.  It includes payoffs to Democratic constituencies like labor unions through provisions that provide up to a $12,500 tax credit for purchasing an electric car made in a union shop versus $7,500 for non-union shops, both of which will mostly benefit the wealthy.  Other big government “social infrastructure” proposals include “free” childcare and pre-K education; expansion of the earned income tax credit; affordable housing; and a national paid leave program.  Sen. Manchin has made it clear that in addition to objecting to the overall bill if the cost exceeds $1.75 trillion, he will not support paid leave, and he has concerns with the clean energy provisions.

But the healthcare provisions are also of great concern.  There are price controls on drugs that would devastate America’s global lead in biopharmaceutical research and development, and “investing” in dental, vision, and hearing coverage in Medicare, even though these benefits are already provided in the more modern and comprehensive Medicare Advantage plans that any senior can access.  The BBBA would also establish Medicaid programs for able-bodied, childless adults in states that wisely chose not to adopt Medicaid Expansion under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, because of the enormous cost the expansion would add to their budgets and the negative effect it has had on crowding out access to healthcare for those for whom the program was intended:  children, pregnant woman, low-income seniors, and those with disabilities.  The BBBA would also make permanent increased premium subsidies under Obamacare that went directly to insurers and benefited high income families as part of a COVID-19 relief bill passed in March 2021.

The unprecedented cost of all these social infrastructure programs would make millions more Americans further reliant on Uncle Sam for government handouts.  Of course, that is the intent of the members of Congress who voted for H.R. 5376.

Supposedly, Democrats are now shifting their efforts to pass H.R. 1, the “For the People Act” that would federalize elections, which under the Constitution is a state responsibility, and implement drastic mandates like preventing the use of voter I.D.s in elections, allowing 16 year-old children to vote, and making it easier to commit voter fraud.  The effort is more likely a ruse to keep progressive activists engaged, since this bill would require 60 votes in the Senate to pass, unless Democrats find a way to change the filibuster rule, which is unlikely to occur as long as Sens. Manchin and Sinema remain opposed.

Taxpayers should not be fooled or complacent.  President Biden’s destructive and costly Build Back Better Act, which should more aptly be called the Build Back Broke Act, is not dead.  Efforts are underway to find a way to pass all or parts of this horrendous, expensive legislation.  But as taxpayers learn more about the BBBA, the more they dislike it and they need to keep making their feelings known to their senators.


How much is one trillion dollars? A trillion one-dollar bills, laid end-to-end, would reach 96 million miles, reaching our sun.