Prices are rising at the highest rate in 30 years. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is intent on ramming through a $3.5 trillion spending bill that will make inflation worse by pumping up already red-hot demand and creating even more reasons for America’s workers to sit on the sidelines.
It is a shameful legacy grab for the soon-to-be-former speaker. Polling shows that voters’ number one concern is inflation, and that they hold President Biden’s economic policies responsible for rising prices. Combined with revulsion over the Afghanistan disaster, those attitudes will almost surely hand control of the House over to Republicans in 2022.
That’s probably why Pelosi is throwing caution to the wind in boosting a budget package that promises giant tax hikes but also future benefits to Democrats, like a “path to citizenship” (and to voting) for people in the country illegally and handouts to special interest groups.
Joining her in the push towards bigger government is Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is hitting the road, trying to sell President Biden’s mammoth “social infrastructure” proposal to blue-collar workers, many of whom voted for Donald Trump.
Is he kidding? It is exactly those commonsense Americans in states such as Iowa and Indiana where the Democratic socialist is headed who know that the budget-busting proposal will not help middle class Americans, as Sanders and Biden promise. To the contrary, they know that growing the government’s share of our economy will saddle all of us, and our kids, with up to $6 trillion in additional debt, higher inflation and slower growth.
Biden says, “If your primary concern right now is inflation, you should be even more enthusiastic about this plan.” That is about as credible as his claimthat our allies just love what we’re doing in Afghanistan.
Voters know instinctively that Biden’s reckless spending programs are fueling higher prices by hyping demand while also making today’s labor shortages worse and driving up wages. One of Wall Street’s top economists recently sent a note to clients noting many announced pay hikes with the heading, “Inflation is everywhere!”
Workers remain on the sidelines in part because the supplemental unemployment benefits contained in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan allowed people to stay home. Many GOP-led states terminated the $300 weekly payments earlier than the country-wide September deadline in an effort to jump-start hiring.
Montana, for instance, was the first state to drop the extra pay. Since then, the state has seen unemployment decrease to 3.6 percent, compared to 5.4 percent nationwide, and its workforce has grown substantially.
But it wasn’t just those insurance payments that dissuaded workers from taking a job. It was also the eviction ban, which protects 80 percent to 90 percent of renters; the recently-enacted 25 percent bump in food stamps; the “pause” in student loan payments and the child tax credits, which sent $15 billion to 61 million children in August.
According to an analysis published by the Committee to Unlock Prosperity, because of the supplemental payments and other benefits, “In 21 states and DC, households can receive wage equivalent of $25 an hour in benefits with no one working. In 19 states, benefits are equivalent to $100,000 a year in salary for a family of four with two unemployed parents.”
Why would anyone go to work?
All these programs are supposedly meant to help Americans through the COVID-caused downturn, which ended, according to official records, in April 2020.
Bottom line: There are nearly nine million Americans unemployed today, but also more than 10 million jobs going unfilled. That doesn’t add up.
Biden’s “social infrastructure” bill would create even more disincentives for Americans to work. In addition to delivering, according to the New York Times, the “highest sustained levels of federal spending since World War II,” it would create what the Times describes as a “vast expansion” of our nation’s safety net.
Biden’s plan would provide “affordable” child care, free pre-K for children, free community college, more subsidized housing and free senior care.
Historically, families saved up to start a family or to send their kids through college. There was no expectation that the government owed you these things; they were aspirational, something you worked for. Setting goals is what inspires people to take two jobs or go to night school and earn a degree; the American work ethic has been one of our strengths. That could soon change, permanently.
Biden’s bill would also funnel hundreds of billions of dollars more into Americans’ hands which, like hot fudge sauce on chocolate ice cream, will prove too much of a good thing. Consumers are flush. Higher home and stock prices have produced a once-in-a-lifetime surge in consumer net worth. People have plenty of money to spend.
Indeed, one of the surprises to the Federal Reserve has apparently been the rebound in demand. How can that be? When Americans are sitting on $2.5 trillion in excess savings and see the value of their homes and investments go through the roof, they are ready to spend money. They don’t need more encouragement.
What they will want is stability, and an assurance that our country’s fiscal outlook is sound. Doubts about the ability of the U.S. to service a historically high debt load or new entitlement programs supported by fewer workers undermine confidence.
Biden’s approval ratings are suddenly underwater, not just on foreign policy but also on his management of the economy, even as the stock market hits new highs. Additionally, a new Morning Consult/Politico poll shows registered voters trust Republicans more than Democrats to manage the economy.
These are undeniable warning signs. Do Democrats really want to risk it all by pushing spending that will supercharge inflation and grow government? If so, it will be the last legislation Biden signs.
Published on The Hill