Too Big? Democrats Divided Over $3.5 Trillion Tax-and-Spend Behemoth

Too Big? Democrats Divided Over $3.5 Trillion Tax-and-Spend Behemoth


Banks have been considered “too big to fail” in the past, but liberal Democrats’ hugely consequential and transformative $3.5 trillion tax-and-spend monstrosity might be “too big to pass,” as support falters even among some Democrats.

The ultraliberal Congressional Progressive Caucus, with nearly 100 votes, is threatening to block passage of the $1 trillion-plus infrastructure bill that already has cleared the Senate unless they get a simultaneous vote on their social welfare programs and climate change spending blowout.

“Critics have assailed this tactic as political hostage-taking, but it’s more like a murder-suicide pact, since progressives want a big infrastructure bill, too,” according to Will Marshall, who heads the center-left Progressive Policy Institute.

It will take the votes of virtually every Democrat in the House and Senate to pull off passage of both bills.

The deadline for the votes is set for this week, which is also the end of the federal government’s fiscal year, with a government shutdown threatened unless Congress also raises the debt limit to allow more borrowing to finance existing spending.

Marshall writes, in an op-ed for The Hill, progressives are “apparently willing to sacrifice the infrastructure upgrade to gain political leverage over the growing ranks of moderate Democrats who, although they support many elements of the massive reconciliation bill, are balking at its $3.5 trillion price tag.”

Marshall’s polling shows that the left-wing demands for “bold structural change” are “out of step with public opinion … Democrats also are seen as ‘too anti-business’ [and] give Republicans the edge on the economy, innovation, and helping entrepreneurs and small business.”

Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus want to use their vote leverage to jam through the largest spending bill in American history without a single congressional hearing. And President Joe Biden strongly supports them.

But with Biden’s low-40s job-approval numbers, he lacks the political capital that would require. Despite  Biden’s bluster about being the ultimate vote counter, the Cook Political Report’s Amy Walter writes that he  “looks more like a helpless bystander than an experienced Capitol Hill deal maker, watching from the sidelines as his party struggles with internal divisions.”

Seasoned journalist and political analyst Mike Allen wrote Friday in Axios

President Biden bit off too much, too fast in trying to ram through what would be the largest social expansion in American history, top Democrats privately say.

Why it matters: At the time Biden proposed it, he had his mind set on a transformational accomplishment that would put him in the pantheon of FDR and JFK.

Democrats, controlling two branches of government, saw a once-in-a-lifetime opening. In retrospect, some top advisers say this should have been done in smaller chunks.

An outside White House adviser said: “Reality is setting in that you can’t pass a $3.5 trillion package. It’s going to get scaled back. The question is whether it can be done this year.”

There is so much spending, so many destructive taxes, and such major policy changes that even many Democrats are getting scared, as Marshall’s article in The Hill shows.

“Instead of going for everything at once, however, Democrats need to set priorities and fashion a reconciliation package that they can pay for without breaking the party’s diverse coalition apart,” Marshall concludes. “Unlike their counterparts in safe blue places, Democrats running in highly competitive districts and states can’t ignore battleground voters’ worries about debt, inflation, and private job creation.”

Never discount House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s strong-arm tactics to get her way. She may persuade enough of her members to vote yes and thereby sacrifice their reelections in 2022. 

But if not, the sharp divisions within the Democratic Party, oddly, could be the path to throttle Biden’s aggressive effort to transform America with massive new cradle-to-grave entitlement spending.

The Daily Signal publishes a variety of perspectives. Nothing written here is to be construed as representing the views of The Heritage Foundation.


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About the Author

Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.