Politicians and commentators have been buzzing about how the White House and progressive lawmakers are being dragged to the negotiating table over the details in Joe Biden’s massive $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation spending proposal because of the resistance of some moderate Democrats. The narrative being pushed by both sides of the political spectrum involves the idea that Democrats are in distress because of their disappointment in the prospect of not getting the full scope of the bill enacted.
A more realistic view of what Speaker Nancy Pelosi has in mind should cause Republicans and ordinary Americans to be concerned about what will happen. The signaling from Pelosi will undoubtedly continue to show how disappointed she is in lowering the total price tag of the behemoth bill and contain her promise that Congress will have to accept doing “fewer things well” to get something passed.
A reporter asked questions this week that reveal to the careful observer what Pelosi and the radical progressives have in mind. The speaker confirmed that the bill’s advertised costs would reduce the number of years new programs are authorized. Where programs have initially been scored on a ten-year lifespan, amendments to the bill will reduce many to five years or shorter terms. This simple change can cut the budget scoring impact of new programs by half or more.
In a message designed to reassure her base, Pelosi said that amendments would not “diminish the transformative nature” of the reconciliation bill and admitted that what she had in mind is “mostly cutting back on the years.”
While Pelosi is likely to get away with some creative accounting to make the initial sticker price look better, the apparent reality is that the bill will still create the new programs and spending plans she and the progressives want. Like all government programs, once they are put in place, with a new set of constituents and innumerable new federal bureaucrats and employees, it is laughable to think they will not become permanent fixtures.