Build Back Better Spending Bill Going Bust

What costs $0 according to President Biden, but is so costly it has to be cut?

The answer to that question is the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better bill, which is all but dead in the U.S. Congress. President Biden acknowledged the bill is bloated with so much spending that it can’t pass.

“To be honest with you, we’re probably not going to get $3.5 trillion this year. We’re going to get something less than that. But I’m going to negotiate, I’m going to get it done,” Biden said in Hartford, Conn.

“I don’t know that I can get it done,” he said in a tone that conveyed defeat as he also mentioned his plan to provide free community college.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi agrees:

“We have some important decisions to make in the next few days so that we can proceed. I’m very disappointed that we’re not going with the original $3.5 trillion, which was very transformative, but whatever we do, we will make decisions that will continue to be transformative about women in the workplace,” she said at her weekly press conference at the Capitol.

Pelosi stressed that the final package, despite the lower cost, will still be “transformative” and “will produce results.”

The die is cast. All that’s left now are the cuts to Biden’s proposed increases in spending.

What’s Going To Be Cut?

President Biden signaled his willingness for one cut to his spending ambitions: his proposal for free community college:

“I doubt we’re going to get the entire funding for community colleges, but I’m not going to give up on community colleges as long as I’m president,” he said.

But the Biden-Harris administration has done very little to sell Americans on the proposed spending. Economics professor Tyler Cowen commented on how little anyone is talking about what is in the Build Back Better spending bill. He cites Biden’s free community college proposal as an example:

The Biden administration also has a “free college” plan, which would require significant expenditure increases from many state governments. I am a college professor, and hang out with many other college professors. Yet somehow this proposal has not once taken over our conversations.

It seems the Biden-Harris administration was never very invested in the idea.

Will a Smaller Spending Bill Cost Less Than Zero?

That’s a question I hope someone asks President Biden. He is already on record saying his original $3.5 trillion spending bill will cost Americans $0. If the amount of spending in the Build Back Better bill shrinks, does that mean he thinks the national debt will also shrink if it passes?

Craig Eyermann is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute.
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