by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Editors at National Review Online critique one of the president’s mystifying claims.
Joe Biden insists that his overstuffed, $3.5 trillion slop-pail of a spending package “costs zero dollars.” President Biden is, forgive us for noticing, completely crackers.
There are a few ways of looking at the cost of a $3.5 trillion boondoggle. The obvious way is to take the price tag at its own word — that, all-in, this package will cost at least $3.5 trillion if Democrats get their way. And that is, of course, correct. Even advocates of the infrastructure plan, such as Ian Bremmer, acknowledge as much.
President Biden and his congressional allies insist that the cost is zero because the spending is “paid for.” But the cost of a $3.5 trillion outlay is $3.5 trillion, “paid for” or not. For example, we could cut $3.5 trillion out of Social Security benefits to offset the $3.5 trillion in “human infrastructure” spending, and none of those Social Security beneficiaries trying to make ends meet with reduced incomes would agree that the program cost nothing. Lecture them about “gross” vs. “net” price all you like, and the people who now have fewer benefits will still understand that it costs something, because they are the ones bearing the burden.
In the case of Biden’s “Build Back Better” proposal, it would be individuals and businesses paying the price through higher taxes, meaning through reduced after-tax income. Don’t tell them it’s free while you’ve got your hand in their pockets.
Biden says that the monster spending spree costs nothing because it would not — or so he says — add anything to the national debt. This claim is, of course, preposterous. No one believes it — Penn-Wharton puts the new debt at almost $2 trillion, the Washington Post fact-checkers gave Biden’s claim two Pinocchios and warned that they’ve got a pocketful of Pinocchios if more Pinocchios are warranted. …