by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
An amusing correction in the New York Times, where ace reporter Reid Epstein was off only by a factor of 1,000:
“An earlier version of this article misstated the size of Democrats’ social policy bill in Congress. It is $3.5 trillion, not $3.5 billion.”
There’s a widespread impression that in these matters, it doesn’t really matter whether you write “billion” or “trillion” or “gozonkawonkillion,” or whatever — that these numbers just wash over readers.
For perspective: $3.5 billion would be about 10 percent of the annual budget of the Department of Energy; $3.5 trillion is quite a bit more than the GDP of the United Kingdom, the world’s fifth-largest economy.
We should remember that Democrats’ spending plan actually exceeds $3.5 trillion, as the “Locker Room” recently observed.
Two centrist sources, one of them explicitly Democratic, provided further reasons why Congress should reject the Democratic Party’s massive $3.5 trillion “reconciliation” spending bill.
The best new reason to oppose Democrats’ massive, $3.5 trillion reconciliation spending bill is that even its outlandish price tag represents an exercise in budgetary sleight of hand. In other words, it is a lie.
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget — a respected, non-partisan arbiter — notes in a statement that its true cost “could exceed $5 trillion.”
Before getting into the details, it is worth noting this $5 trillion budget blowout would come on top of a $1.2 trillion “infrastructure” bill that is more about social spending than bricks and mortar. That one, in turn, would come atop — get this! — a total of $5.7 trillion already spent in six different COVID-19 relief bills and several executive orders in just 13 months.
In 2016, just five years ago, the entire federal budget was less than $4 trillion. Now, the total federal debt is nearly 130% of gross domestic product, creating an economically dangerous situation. With those numbers in mind, even $3.5 trillion for this new bill would be hideously reckless. But given the real 10-year cost of $5 trillion, it is insane.