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 …”