President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending bill has a tough road ahead now that moderate Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has publicly called on his colleagues to put a “strategic pause” on the pricey bill before they plunge America further into record debt.
In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal on Thursday, Manchin argued that the “overheating economy” just cannot endure another round of trillion-dollar spending without a clearer plan for the rocky future ahead.
Instead of rushing to spend trillions on new government programs and additional stimulus funding, Congress should hit a strategic pause on the budget-reconciliation legislation. A pause is warranted because it will provide more clarity on the trajectory of the pandemic, and it will allow us to determine whether inflation is transitory or not. While some have suggested this reconciliation legislation must be passed now, I believe that making budgetary decisions under artificial political deadlines never leads to good policy or sound decisions. I have always said if I can’t explain it, I can’t vote for it, and I can’t explain why my Democratic colleagues are rushing to spend $3.5 trillion.
Another reason to pause: We must allow for a complete reporting and analysis of the implications a multitrillion-dollar bill will have for this generation and the next. Such a strategic pause will allow every member of Congress to use the transparent committee process to debate: What should we fund, and what can we simply not afford?
Manchin noted that Congress has spent over $5 trillion since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and that lawmakers seem to have no serious regard for “rising inflation, crippling debt or the inevitability of future crises.” In sum, another round of high spending will simply kick an already dented can down the road with no thought for a potential recession, terrorist attack, international crisis, or a coronavirus resurgence.
In what will further anger the progressive wing of his party, Manchin further argues that the bill, which House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) referred to as a “$3.5 trillion spending binge,” will do little to solve the current economic problems and will instead be used as a tool to “re-envision America’s social policies.”
“While my fellow Democrats will disagree, I believe that spending trillions more dollars not only ignores present economic reality but makes it certain that America will be fiscally weakened when it faces a future recession or national emergency,” he argued.
According to NBC News, appeasing Manchin will upset progressives in the U.S. House, who view the $3.5 trillion spending bill as an opportunity to expand the welfare state and combat climate change:
Manchin’s call for a delay will irk many in his party who have called congressional action to combat climate change long overdue. The budget proposal would use subsidies and other incentives to encourage the adoption of green energy, electrify buildings and houses, and make infrastructure more resilient against extreme weather.
In August, after Senate Republicans helped pass President Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, far-left Democrats in the House, such as Rep. Ayanna Pressley (MA), vocalized their desire to attach it with the reconciliation bill.
“Care is infrastructure. Climate justice is infrastructure. Housing is infrastructure,” Pressley tweeted.
“We can and we must meet the moment,” she added.
Care is infrastructure. Climate justice is infrastructure. Housing is infrastructure.
We can and we must meet the moment. https://t.co/6yPWRXMpd3
— Ayanna Pressley (@AyannaPressley) August 11, 2021