The Biden Administration waited until the Friday before Memorial Day weekend to send its long-delayed budget to Congress—and one look at the $6 trillion monstrosity leaves no doubt as to why. The president who ran for office as a moderate has solidified his radical leftward lurch with a proposal for colossal deficits and a budget jammed backed with socialist fantasies.
Although it is normal for government spending to rise in a crisis, Biden’s proposal doubles down on the spending binge and raises deficits to unprecedented levels. While his plan threatens the economy, it certainly accomplishes the administration’s primary goal of pleasing the ideological extremists now running the Democrat Party.
Indeed, Biden’s budget request constitutes the most aggressive expansion of government in recent memory. Of course, the plan includes most of the standard provisions found in all presidential budgets, but it is also crammed with far-left agenda items that have long been considered fringe and ideological concepts.
In a fact sheet on the specifics of the proposal, the White House makes clear that the budget is in fact a plan to remake the social fabric of the country, saying that “America cannot afford to simply return to the way things were before the pandemic.” The document goes on to call for a “reimagining” of the American economy – words that eerily echo the left’s call last year to “reimagine policing.” The proposals have many conservatives convinced Biden is intent on using the budget process to inflict radical social change.
Among other proposals, Biden is calling for an increase of $14 billion over the 2021 budget to address the “climate crisis” and “secure environmental justice,” $2.1 billion for new gun control measures, and more than $860 million to go to Central America to address the “root causes” of illegal immigration. Biden’s plan also calls for a drastic increase in the number of refugee admissions for fiscal year 2022, increasing the annual cap by more than seven times.
Biden claims he plans to fund his proposal by reversing many Trump-era tax cuts. Among other changes, Biden wants to increase the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% (which would cause a gigantic spike in outsourcing to China), as well as raise the top individual tax rate from 23.8% to 43.4%, and expand the estate tax, or death tax, which would cripple family farms and small businesses.
Despite the radical nature of Biden’s plan, several members of the Democratic Party’s progressive wing say the plan still doesn’t go far enough to change American society. At a recent virtual town hall, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) called on Democrats to “push” Biden for “full student loan debt cancellation” after the Biden administration announced that it would not include anything in this year’s budget to address the student loan crisis. Progressives also took aim at Biden’s call to maintain high levels of military spending, with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) saying he has “serious concerns” about what he called a “bloated” Pentagon request.
Aside from politicians, Biden’s budget plan has many experts worried about the proposal’s lasting effect on the economy. Even liberal economist Larry Summers, veteran of the Obama and Clinton administrations, warned that there were “very substantial risks” of rising inflation, saying “we are printing money.” While the Biden administration claims that the massive amounts of deficit spending proposed in its 2022 budget will eventually be offset by increases in tax revenue from wealthy individuals and corporations, these calculations assume that interest rates and inflation will remain relatively low over the next decade. With soaring commodity prices and rising inflation already threatening the economic wellbeing of many Americans, such assumptions are dubious at best.
If enacted, Biden’s budget is projected to result in a staggering deficit of $1.84 trillion in 2022 even as the United States recovers from the pandemic and returns to normal life. This is in clear defiance of historical norms. When government has increased spending to meet challenges in the past, budgets have quickly returned to normal levels once the crisis has subsided. For example, although public debt as a percentage of GDP peaked at 118% during World War II, that figure steadily declined after the war’s end, fluctuating between 30% and 80% for the next several decades. Biden’s plan would keep the public debt to GDP ratio at historic highs—from 112% to 117%–for as far as the eye can see. Most economists agree that when public debt reaches 77% of GDP or higher, economic growth begins to slow.
Biden released his plan after a record delay and amid mounting pressure from Congressional Democrats. Some of the delay is due at least in part to the fact that Biden still doesn’t have a Senate-confirmed budget chief. Biden had initially nominated liberal activist Neera Tanden to the position, but withdrew her nomination amid bipartisan opposition, including from Democratic Senators such as Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who said that she would likely have a “toxic and detrimental” relationship with Congress if confirmed. As early as mid-April, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) said he was “deeply concerned” Congress hadn’t received a budget request and that the White House should provide the budget request by May 10. Biden’s budget was the latest in at least 100 years, following on his pattern of waiting longer than his predecessors for events such as his first press conference and his first address to a joint session of Congress.
Ultimately, Congress does not have to take any of the President’s recommendations (the budget request is just that – a request). Lawmakers have priorities of their own, and hammering out a spending bill that can pass both the House and Senate is a long, arduous process. However, Biden’s plan is a clear indication that the President has no intention of abandoning his increasingly radical left-wing agenda anytime soon. While Biden and Congressional Democrats want to seize this fleeting opportunity to transform the country, the economic fallout of their policies could end up only increasing the likelihood of crushing Democrat losses next year.
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