We’ve all heard the pitch: President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better™ plan won’t cost a cent.
It’s paid for. Just tax the rich. The money will magically roll in — painlessly, effortlessly. Ol’ Lunchpail Joe will hold our nation’s plutocrats by their ankles, give them a good shake, and — by Jove — $3.5 trillion will end up falling out of their pockets.
That’s how you get tweets like this one Monday from the presidential Twitter account, evincing someone who’s not living in reality: “The fact of the matter is my Build Back Better Agenda costs $0 — and it won’t raise taxes on anyone making under $400,000 a year. We’re going to pay for it by ensuring those at the top and big corporations pay their fair share.”
The fact of the matter is my Build Back Better Agenda costs $0 — and it won’t raise taxes on anyone making under $400,000 a year. We’re going to pay for it by ensuring those at the top and big corporations pay their fair share.
— President Biden (@POTUS) October 4, 2021
That’s deluded enough — but passing it off as an actual tax cut is some next-level economic gaslighting.
On Tuesday, Biden was in Howell, Michigan, pitching the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion spending bill as a necessary step for an America that’s lagging behind the rest of the world in infrastructure development.
“This is a blue-collar blueprint for how we restore America’s pride,” Biden said, according to the Detroit Free Press.
“Other countries are speeding up and we’re falling behind. We have to speed up the pace.”
We’ve seen Biden’s you’ve-gotta-spend-money-to-make-money pitch since March, when he introduced the first round of exorbitant spending on infrastructure. We’ve been hearing for weeks that this latest round of spending isn’t going to cost a cent and the only people who’ll feel the pinch will be the rich, who need to step up and pay their fair share. That’s nothing new.
This line is, however: “My friends on the other team have no problem giving billionaires and millionaires gigantic tax breaks. This is a tax cut!”
Biden on his $3.5 trillion tax hike: “This is a tax cut!” pic.twitter.com/sUJWdE9sue
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) October 5, 2021
“You know, what it does is — now and it’s in place, and people in your state are understanding it now — instead of — it provides, it upped the ante for how much you could get for a child under 7,” Biden said. “You get $3,600 bucks, tax cut, on a yearly basis. And you get $3,000 for a child under 17.”
To the extent that’s coherent, it’s a lie.
Biden’s argument here centers on incentives given to families under the proposed plan. This is all wonderful, but Biden continues to insist that the $3.5 trillion he’s about to spend won’t cost a cent.
Therefore, logic dictates that revenue would need to be increased by at least $3.5 trillion by the plan for it to pay for itself. That money isn’t going to come from growth, so it’s going to need to come, by and large, from taxes, both on individuals and corporations — categorically the opposite of a tax cut.
Fine, a liberal might say, but this is just splitting hairs using Biden’s verbal infelicity. What he meant to say is that, if you’re not a corporation or someone making over $400,000 a year, you’ll end up paying less. You’re getting the breaks and the monocle-wearers are getting soaked. Why complain?
This is wrong, too. An analysis by the Joint Committee on Taxation — a non-partisan congressional tax scorekeeper — found the vast majority of Americans, almost every income level below the threshold the Biden administration said would be immune, would take a hit.
The JCT also found that 66.3 percent of the burden of a corporate tax hike would end up being shouldered by lower- and middle-class Americans and that 98.4 percent of taxpayers who paid for it would have incomes under $500,000. That’s not even counting inflation — that nasty, unseen form of taxation that robs families that can’t hedge against it.
We’ve already seen plenty of inflation during the first 10 months of the Biden administration, and we’re going to see a whole lot more of it after trillions upon trillions of dollars are pumped into the economy, diluting the power of the dollar.
That, to Joe Biden, isn’t just a net-zero proposition that allows Democrats to pay for a massive spending bill that doesn’t so much build infrastructure as it does funnel money to a long list of Democrat priorities and constituencies. It’s a tax cut, Biden claims.
It’s one thing to promise us that we can get all sorts of government largesse that we don’t have to pay a dime for. This is how Democrats get elected, after all — by telling us they’ll be providing every American with a free unicorn that eats plastic waste and excretes clean water, and all we have to do is tax billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates to afford it.
It’s quite another thing, however, to insult our intelligence by insisting we’ll be so good at taxing the rich that the government will pay us to take the unicorn, if only we can just give Joe Biden a chance to have his way.
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