Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia listens during a committee hearing in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on June 10, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Alex Wong / Getty Images)
By Randy DeSoto September 3, 2021 at 8:21am
Finally, a voice of reason among the Democratic Party’s ranks.
“[S]ome in Congress have a strange belief there is an infinite supply of money to deal with any current or future crisis, and that spending trillions upon trillions will have no negative consequence for the future. I disagree,” Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia wrote in a Thursday opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal.
For this reason, he cannot sign onto the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion “human infrastructure” bill.
Manchin noted the current national debt is $28.7 trillion and growing. Further, over the past 18 months, Congress has authorized more than $5 trillion in COVID-19-related spending.
“An overheating economy has imposed a costly ‘inflation tax’ on every middle- and working-class American,” he argued.
“Now Democratic congressional leaders propose to pass the largest single spending bill in history with no regard to rising inflation, crippling debt or the inevitability of future crises.”
Inflation hit an annual 5.4 percent rate in July, matching a 20-year high from the previous month. Gasoline prices, which are up $1 per gallon from last year, are a major contributor to the inflation spike.
The massive government spending is contributing to inflation partly because it is being funded by the Federal Reserve printing money.
Further, hundreds of billions of these dollars went right into Americans’ bank accounts through stimulus payments and enhanced unemployment benefits.
Do you think Congress should add new entitlement programs?
That money is then spent, and when too many dollars chase too few goods, you get inflation. Pretty basic stuff.
Manchin called for a “strategic pause” on any new entitlement government programs and additional stimulus spending.
“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,” he wrote.
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. Read my op-ed in @WSJopinion: https://t.co/hlkIpfwVd8
— Senator Joe Manchin (@Sen_JoeManchin) September 2, 2021
Among the big-ticket items in the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion plan are universal pre-K, rental assistance payments, tuition-free community college, paid family and sick leave, expanded health care benefits, climate initiatives and permanent residency status for those who entered the country illegally.
To give some perspective, the entire revenues taken in by the federal government in fiscal year 2019, prior to the pandemic, equaled $3.5 trillion.
That amount was $984 billion short of the amount spent, $4.4 trillion.
Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, national defense and $375 billion in interest on the national debt were all among the federal outlays.
The CBO’s federal budget charts, comparing 2019 to 2020 spending allocations. https://t.co/9jikvffWD3 pic.twitter.com/nBo0E3Kg9z
— Randy DeSoto (@RandyDeSoto) May 27, 2021
In 2020, the amount of revenue dropped only slightly to $3.4 trillion despite the COVID-19 shutdowns. However, the federal government spent almost twice that much — $6.6 trillion — leading to about a $3.1 trillion deficit.
The Congressional Budget Office projects a deficit of just over $3 trillion for the current 2021 fiscal year.
In other words, the Democrats have no business adding on new entitlement programs, especially when we’re not paying for the ones we have.
Even if additional revenue could be raised through higher taxes without doing significant damage to the economy, that money should be directed toward shrinking the deficit, not new obligations.
“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,” Manchin wrote.
“I, for one, won’t support a $3.5 trillion bill, or anywhere near that level of additional spending, without greater clarity about why Congress chooses to ignore the serious effects inflation and debt have on existing government programs,” the senator added.
Thank God. Finally, at least one Democrat gets it.
And with a 50-50 split in the Senate, that just might be enough to stave off a fiscal catastrophe.