Congress’s efforts to push through a budget-busting $3.5+ trillion welfare and climate change spending bill are coming to a fever pitch. But with the Senate evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, 50-50, the party-line spending legislation could be doomed—because one prominent Democratic senator just came out swinging against the effort.
“I can’t support $3.5 trillion more in spending when we have already spent $5.4 trillion since last March,” West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat, said in a statement released Wednesday. “At some point, all of us, regardless of party, must ask the simple question – how much is enough?”
“What I have made clear to the President and Democratic leaders is that spending trillions more on new and expanded government programs, when we can’t even pay for the essential social programs, like Social Security and Medicare, is the definition of fiscal insanity,” Manchin continued. “Suggesting that spending trillions more will not have an impact on inflation ignores the everyday reality that America’s families continue [to] pay an unavoidable inflation tax. Proposing a historic expansion of social programs while ignoring the fact we are not in a recession and that millions of jobs remain open will only feed a dysfunction that could weaken our economic recovery.”
My statement on infrastructure and reconciliation negotiations: https://t.co/ivdAUn9Mdh pic.twitter.com/6Y6ATeH8DR— Senator Joe Manchin (@Sen_JoeManchin) September 29, 2021
To be clear, Manchin is not exactly a principled free-marketeer or small government fiscal conservative. Indeed, he is actively promoting a $1.2+ trillion spending bill ostensibly dedicated to transportation infrastructure, and is open to the idea of more spending. The senator simply acknowledges the reality of trade-offs. (Unlike many in his party who bizarrely continue to falsely claim their multi-trillion-dollar proposal costs “zero dollars.”)
Still, Manchin deserves credit for grappling with the reality that the government cannot create resources out of thin air. Whether through the sweeping proposed tax hikes, new federal debt, or money-printing that drives inflation, all the goodies handed out by the federal government must ultimately come from somewhere else.
Manchin rightly argued that the current approach of spending trillions and ignoring any consequences is reckless and motivated by an extreme political ideology that ignores fiscal reality.
“Overall, the amount we spend now must be balanced with what we need and can afford – not designed to reengineer the social and economic fabric of this nation or vengefully tax for the sake of wishful spending,” he said. “While I am hopeful that common ground can be found that would result in another historic investment in our nation, I cannot – and will not - support trillions in spending or an all or nothing approach that ignores the brutal fiscal reality our nation faces.”
If only more politicians in Washington were willing to at least grapple with fiscal reality when crafting spending policies and less content to simply pass the buck onto future generations.
“America is a great nation but great nations throughout history have been weakened by careless spending and bad policies,” Manchin concluded. “Now, more than ever, we must work together to avoid these fatal mistakes so that we may fulfill our greatest responsibility as elected leaders and pass on a better America to the next generation.”
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