Democrats in Washington have been wrestling with what is, for them, a rather vexing problem. They control the White House, and they have a majority in the House of Representatives, albeit a much smaller majority than they had expected prior to the 2020 election. They control half of the seats in the Senate, and yet, in order to pass any legislation, they must rely on a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris, even if they have the support of all 50 Democrat senators.
It is a gridlock that put the legislative filibuster front and center on Capitol Hill – and even many Democrats have been leery of eliminating the procedure for fear of how it could backfire on them, when they next find themselves in the minority.
Perhaps the Democrats have found a way to render the filibuster impotent without actually killing it. Reconciliation has been the one tool left in the toolbox for avoiding a filibuster – except in rare circumstances – but the process is used only once a year, and Democrats have already employed it in 2021 to pass their gargantuan COVID relief bill.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) decided, as Democrats often do, that if you can’t get anything done in the Senate, then simply change the rules. Schumer took his case to the Senate parliamentarian who has now given the green light for a budget resolution to be passed with reconciliation instructions. Reconciliation happens when a bill is marked up to include provisions that ensure any proposed spending conforms to budgetary requirements.
This extraordinary measure comes on the heels of Senator Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) warning that a proposed increase in the corporate tax rate, from the current 21% to 28%, would face opposition from himself and other Democrats.
A Flood of Green
The nod from the parliamentarian opens the way in effect for Democrats to use reconciliation as often as they like to pass spending bills. Republican opposition would be rendered virtually toothless, and the floodgates could open to allow an influx of unlimited dollars for the left’s many pet projects and expansions of government control over the U.S. economy.
Already, rumors of yet another COVID relief bill are doing the rounds. If Democrats get Biden’s infrastructure bill through Congress, that could become a real possibility. At some point, it becomes impossible to stop the explosion of the inflation bomb. All the new – or, more accurately, reclaimed – jobs and wage increases in the world will mean little when the dollar in the average American’s pocket is worth 3% or 4% or 10% less.
Just as importantly, no amount of tax increases on the “rich” will offset the level of debt the United States is already staring down, never mind where that debt will stand just two or three years from now. Tax the wealthiest 5% at a rate of 90% and it would not make a dent in what America owes – or what the government spends.
That, of course, means that any promises not to raise taxes on the middle class are meaningless – if not insulting. Every American who works will undoubtedly be paying more in taxes by 2022 than they are now. Even then, the federal government will have to print and borrow billions more to keep up with everything the Democrats have promised.
When the electoral tide inevitably rises on the other shore, Democrats could find themselves regretting their continued quest to overcome any and all opposition to their plans for a fiscal free-for-all.
Read more from Graham J. Noble.