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Build Back Better’s Dead? Don’t Bet On It

When Sen. Joe Manchin said he couldn’t vote for “Build Back Better,” it might have seemed like President Joe Biden’s multi-trillion spending spree had finally met its demise. If you think so, remember Obamacare.

Bad ideas never die in Washington, particularly when it comes to expanding the size, scope, or intrusiveness of the federal government.

And sure enough, once the dust cleared on Manchin’s announcement, rather than admit the massive Build Back Better plan was a terrible idea that would create huge new entitlements, add trillions to the national debt, and that most people believe it will do them more harm than good, Democrats immediately started plotting on how to rescue this monstrosity.

Over the weekend, for example, Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin took to the airwaves to say that his party hasn’t given up.

“There is unanimity in our caucus that we want to get a bill to the president, and we are working to see what that bill will contain,” Cardin said on Fox News Sunday. “President Biden is directly involved in these negotiations.

“We are prepared to move; we just need to make sure we have unanimity in our caucus and that’s what we are working on and we will start on that next week when we return,” Cardin said.

Biden has expressed a similar view. “I want to get things done,” he said. “I still think there’s a possibility of getting Build Back Better done.”

Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wrote his colleagues that: “We are going to vote on a revised version of the House-passed Build Back Better Act – and we will keep voting on it until we get something done.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Pramila Jayapal is pushing Biden to use his pen and phone to get major provisions of the bill enacted, even if the Democrats can’t get the bill through Congress. “Taking executive action will also make clear to those who hinder Build Back Better that the White House and Democrats will deliver for Americans,” Jayapal wrote.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki put it simply: “Everybody stay tuned and settle in.”

A brief history lesson shows why there’s good reason to continue worrying about Build Back Better.

Go back to January 2010, when conservatives were saying with great confidence at the start of 2010 that “Obamacare Is Dead and Here’s Why.”

The “why” was the fact that Democrats had, as with Build Back Better, managed to turn the public against the idea. By the end of 2009, Obamacare had become overwhelmingly unpopular. So much so that Massachusetts voters elected a Republican in a special election held in January 2010 after Ted Kennedy – a relentless champion of government-run health care – had died. It was a devastating blow.

Scott Brown’s victory wasn’t just a resounding “no” from voters, it denied Democrats the supermajority they’d had in the Senate, which they’d already used to pass their version of Obamacare. Leftist Democrats in the House, however, wanted something more expansive than the Senate bill, but without a filibuster-proof majority, there was no way they could now get a vote on any merged House-Senate bill.

So, conservatives breathed a sigh of relief. Bullet dodged.

And while they were celebrating, Democrats used a series of clever legislative maneuvers to bring Obamacare back to life. The House simply “deemed” the Senate version passed, then put together an amendment in the form of a reconciliation bill, which Republicans couldn’t filibuster in the Senate. Despite Obamacare’s supposed demise, Democrats got exactly what they wanted.

By March 2010, Obamacare was the law of the land, creating a brand-new federal entitlement that, despite endless promises by Republicans to repeal it, will be with us in perpetuity.

True, the circumstances today are very different than they were nearly a dozen years ago. The Senate is split 50-50 and without Manchin’s approval, Democrats can’t even muster a majority let alone a supermajority.

But with Democrats, there is always a way. It might be complicated. It might be messy. It might be despicable. It might involve finding a bribe Manchin can’t refuse or figuring out a way to sway a mushy Republican over to their side. It would certainly cost Democrats control of Congress next year. No matter.

If Republicans aren’t paying attention, Democrats will find the way. And we will be stuck with Biden’s Build Back Better monster. Forever.

— Written by the I&I Editorial Board

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I & I Editorial Board

The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.

3 comments

  • IF $$$$ were SECONDS – 29 Trillion in debt
    1 MILLION seconds ago was 11 days ago
    1 BILLION seconds ago was 11 years ago
    1 TRILLION seconds ago was when Neanderthals 1st painted their caves

  • Watch for the filibuster to be cracked through a “reform” to better ensure democracy. First to allow the sections of BBB that Senator Manchin likes to get approved, then for “Voting Rights,” then they will have precedent and will use this avenue more oftern.

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