The House’s  “Build Back Better” plan: A Costly Collection of Misfires

Build Back Better Is Worse - YouTube

Democrats say Americans love their $2.2 trillion Build Back Better bill passed by the House on Nov. 19. That must be because they don’t know what’s in it.

While the media has largely concentrated on overarching themes of the legislation, gone largely unnoticed are all sorts of provisions most folks would probably find unpalatable if not downright unseemly.

Take a look at the catalog of misfires:

  • Think the Democrats are all about the little people? The current state and local taxes (SALT) deduction allows taxpayers who itemize their deductions to reduce their federal taxable income by the amount of state and local taxes they paid that year, up to $10,000. The House bill would raise the cap to $80,000 through 2030, mostly benefiting the wealthy from high-tax states such as California, New Jersey and New York. Even liberal Jason Furman, a Harvard economist who served as chair of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, has said the provision’s benefit to “the super-rich” is “obscene.” 
  • Just 6.3% of private sector workers in the U.S. were union members in 2020. The House bill adds a $4500 credit exclusively for Electric Vehicles (EVs) built in the United States with unionized labor. This heavily favors the Big Three American auto manufacturers, all of which operate unionized factories in the U.S. Excluded from the credit: Tesla, Rivian, and every foreign automaker that operates a U.S. assembly plant, none of which are unionized. Vehicles such as the Ford Mustang Mach-E full-electric sport utility vehicle, which is built in Mexico, wouldn’t meet the domestic production requirement either. Canada, the European Union, Germany, Japan, Mexico, France, South Korea, Italy, and other countries recently sent a letter to U.S. lawmakers saying the tax credit proposal would also violate international trade rules. In a separate letter, Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng told U.S. lawmakers and the Biden administration that the credits, if approved, “would have a major adverse impact on the future of EV and automotive production in Canada.” Way to go Democrats. Piss off a lot of automakers and allies to placate the UAW.
  • “We’re for working parents,” the Democrats crow. The House bill would guarantee that families making up to 250 percent of a state’s median income would not have to pay more than 7 percent of their annual income on childcare. Sounds good, but it will inevitably federalize child care, favor big corporate providers, raise childcare costs overall and increase the burden on families making more than the cap. 
  • In another sop to unions, the House bill would allow union members to deduct up to $250 of dues from their tax bills, allowing them to exclude the cost of dues from their gross income. The Joint Committee on Taxation says this would cost taxpayers $1.8 billion. A lot of union dues money goes into supporting political campaigns and lobbying. OpenSecrets, a non-partisan analyst of political money, says Democrats got 90% of union donations in 2020 federal races. 
  • Americana’s journalism industry, which prides itself on its independence, got a piece of the Build Back Better pie in the House bill, too. The House bill would provide a payroll tax credit for companies that employ eligible local journalists. The measure would allow newspapers, digital news outlets, and radio and television stations to claim a tax credit of $25,000 the first year and $15,000 the next four years for each of up to 1,500 journalists. The theory is this would incentivize some publishers to hire or retain local reporters. The projected cost of putting journalism outlets on the public dole – $1.7 billion. I’m a former newspaper reporter and the struggles of local news are undeniable, but this is embarrassing. Why large and small journalism enterprises deserve taxpayer bailouts like this is beyond me. Supporters say there will be guardrails to prevent the tax breaks from going to partisan or fake-news sites. Good luck.  

Who knows what other godawful provisions lurk in the 2000+ page Build Back Better bill. As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said of another contentious legislative process, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it …”

The Newberg School Board’s Messaging Ban: A Different Perspective

Gay Straight Alliance becomes a reality – The Prowler

OK. I’m going to be the odd man out.

Do the people insisting on the display of Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ Pride messages in Newberg, Oregon schools honestly believe those are non-political non-controversial messages? 

Does the teachers’ union, the Newberg Education Association, really believe that the display of such messages on school campuses is essential “to create safe learning environments for our students”?

Do Newberg students all agree that the Newberg School Board, in banning the display of images “relating to a political, quasi-political, or controversial topic,” is demonstrating that is has no empathy?

Or are the parents, students and union representatives simply embracing progressive messaging in Newberg schools and cloaking their advocacy in claims of free speech rights, while the Board is trying to keep their schools neutral in today’s toxic political environment?

I ask these questions because I doubt the critics of the ban would be so outspoken if the debate was over the display of conservative-leaning messages.

Would they support a poster in the Newberg High School lobby with National Right-to-Life’s message, “Promote respect for the worth and dignity of every individual human being, born or unborn”?

aohadmin, Author at AOH Tír na Nóg Division 1, Lehigh County

How about a “thin blue line” flag endorsed by the Blue Lives Matter movement hanging prominently in the school gym?

Commentary: Blue Lives Matter Bills Send Wrong Message | Fortune

Would they support a massive pro-death penalty banner such as “Keep capital punishment safe and legal” in every classroom?

What's next for the death penalty?

Citing a lawsuit filed by the Newberg Education Association calling for the Yamhill County circuit court to block the Newberg School District from enforcing its new policy, union president Jennifer Schneider said the lawsuit “… is just one more step to guarantee that the personal politics and prejudices of the new School Board majority aren’t able to enter our classrooms…” 

How about preventing the personal politics and prejudices of the ban’s critics from entering Newberg’s classrooms?

Making the whole controversy worse, Oregon Senate Majority Leader Rob Wagner (D- Lake Oswego) is using it as an excuse to stir the pot by introducing two bills for the 2022 legislative session:  One would require all school boards to receive a biannual audit and implement strategies around equity training. The other bill would prohibit school boards from terminating superintendents who implement state-mandated best practices that relate to diversity, inclusion and public health practices.

Just what we need, more political grandstanding and micromanagement of Oregon’s public schools. 

Biden’s Federalization of Child Care Will Be Costly

“You can’t handle the truth!” Colonel Nathan R. Jessup roared in A Few Good Men.

President Biden and the Democrats in Congress apparently think the same way in explaining the costs of their Build Back Better budget proposals. Supposedly, the cost of the House Democrats’ budget reconciliation bill is $1.75 Trillion.

But this is a fiction based on smoke and mirrors.

On Thursday, the Penn Wharton Budget Model reported that if all the provisions of the bill (except green energy tax cuts) are made permanent, new spending would increase by $3.98 trillion, more than double what President Biden’s White House said.

On Friday, Nov. 5, the House passed a $1 Trillion infrastructure bill, but put the social policy bill on hold because a half-dozen Democrats withheld their votes until a nonpartisan analysis by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) could tally its price tag, which could be delayed until at least mid-November. In other words, even the Democrats don’t know what their social policy bill would policy

One area that stands out in terms of unknown real costs is projected spending on child care. 

Child Care Services Association — Ensuring affordable, asccessible,  high-quality child care

On Friday, Nov. 5, the House passed a $1 Trillion infrastructure bill, but put the social policy bill on hold because a half-dozen Democrats withheld their votes until a nonpartisan analysis could tally its price tag, which could be delayed until at least mid-November. In other words, even the Democrats don’t know what their social policy bill would cost.

The childcare part of the package attempts to spur more workers to join the childcare workforce and raise providers’ wages by spending around $100 billion over the first three years.

The bill would guarantee that families making up to 250 percent of a state’s median income would not have to pay more than 7 percent of their annual income on child care.

“How can we compete in the world if millions of American parents, especially moms, can’t be part of the workforce because they can’t afford the cost of childcare or eldercare,” Biden said in October. 

All well and good, but what’s going to be the actual cost to the federal government if the Democrats’ bill passes and gets signed by the President? The House will be out on recess next week, returning the week of Nov. 13. If there is a CBO score by then, it’s possible that the House could move immediately to a final vote on the bill.

First of all, the program would supposedly come to an end in six years, but that’s just part of the Democrats’ budget trickery. The assumption that spending on the child care program will cease in six years reduces its overall cost during the 10-year budget window that Congress uses to determine whether a bill will add to the federal deficit. But Democrats are counting on parents becoming so fond of the government largesse that Congress will extend the program.

President Biden has said the child care subsidies would save the average family $14,800 per year on child care expenses. In other words, the federal government would pick up $14,800 in childcare costs now paid by the average American family. 

,Using Oregon as a test case, median family income in 2020 was $76,554. On that basis, no Oregon family making less than $191,385 would pay more than 7% of their income on child care. Families earning more than $191,385 would, however, likely pay more once all the government’s mandates kicked in. Higher wages for childcare workers, for example, would likely be passed on to parents by child care providers.

Under the House bill, all the teachers and staff participating in the child care workforce, would have to be paid at least $15 an hour. Many child care workers are now so low paid that more than 15 percent are below the poverty line in 41 states, according to a Sept. 2021 report from the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Similarly, nearly half of child care workers use public assistance, such as the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

According to ZipRecruiter, as of Oct 30, 2021, the average annual pay for a child care worker in Oregon was $18,969 a year or approximately $9.12 an hour. 

Under the Democrats’ bill, child care staff with the qualifications of kindergarten teachers would have to be compensated as such, according to The White House. Kindergarten teachers Oregon must have finished a degree program that includes a teacher education component. Teaching kindergarten also requires passing several exams before earning a license. According to ZipRecruiter, as of Oct 30, 2021, the average annual pay for a kindergarten teacher in Oregon was $33,785 a year or $16.24 an hour.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says there are 494,360 child care workers in the United States. Oregon has about 13,000 of those. 

According to the White House, child care providers will also “receive funding to cover the true cost of quality early childhood care and education–including a developmentally appropriate curriculum, small class sizes, and culturally and linguistically responsive environments that are inclusive of children with disabilities.”

Under the House bill, the federal government would also pay for child care workers to receive job-embedded coaching and professional development to help child care workers grow their skills during their careers.

The federal government would have to pony up a lot of new money to pay for all this. Not only that, but the states would have to step up, too. States would not be required to match any funds for the first three years, giving them time to ramp up their programs while funded entirely by the federal government. After three years, states would have to provide a 10% match to the federal funds. Where’s that money going to come from?

In addition, President Biden has said he would “ensure families have access to the quality care their children need by working in partnership with states to ensure providers meet rigorous quality standards. These standards will include a developmentally appropriate curriculum, small class sizes, and support positive interactions between educators and children that promote children’s socio-emotional development.”

To say that the Democrats want to federalize child care would be an understatement.

Although the goal of affordable child care seems worthwhile, I can’t help but think this particular proposal is going to have major unintended consequences if it becomes law.

For example, it is likely the proposal will lead to higher childcare costs overall, particularly for those not under the subsidy umbrella. As the Acton Institute has written, “There is little reason to expect that large increases in government subsidies toward childcare would lead to declining overall costs. All prices are relative prices. Increasing the demand for childcare services through subsidies while directing that demand to more formal, regulated, and already stressed institutions is a recipe for…cost explosions.”

Jonathan Bydlak of the R Street Institute makes the same point. “The idea of using subsidies to essentially engineer some sort of outcome is not exactly a great idea,” he says. “Any time you end up subsidizing something that represents a market manipulation. There’s always a potential, as we’ve seen in areas like education, for example, where… education costs are almost certainly higher as a result of the ways in which we subsidize that system.”

Many have argued that years of government subsidies for college have raised the spending power of the average person for higher education, but not necessarily to their benefit. Colleges and universities, those people say, have taken note of families’ increased spending power and raised their tuitions accordingly, resulting in the sky-high tuition rates that exist today.

At one point recently, President Biden said his Build Back Better plan would cost nothing because rich people and corporations would pay the bill. “The fact of the matter is, my Build Back Better Agenda costs $0,” Biden said.

If you believed that, or if you think the Democrats’ proposed child care program is only going to cost $100 billion over its first three years, you’re smoking some pretty potent weed.