WSJ: The Kamikaze Democrats

November 23, 2021

The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board gets it exactly right —Nancy Pelosi has walked her majority off a cliff yet again.

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The Kamikaze Democrats
Editorial Board
The Wall Street Journal

The Kyle Rittenhouse acquittal dominated the weekend news, but the more significant story for the long run was House passage Friday of the multi-trillion-dollar tax, climate and entitlement spending bill. Speaker Nancy Pelosi marched her majority off a cliff in 2010 with votes on ObamaCare, and now she has done it again.

The Speaker muscled the bill through on a 220-213 vote. No Republicans voted aye, and Rep. Jared Golden of Maine was the sole Democratic dissenter. Other swing-district Democrats had made a show of demanding concessions and a bill that “paid for itself,” but in the end the bill didn’t pay for itself even by the rigged rules of the Congressional Budget Office. But they still rolled over, as they always do when Mrs. Pelosi gives the order.

The 81-year-old Mrs. Pelosi is almost certainly retiring after this Congress, and this vote is a legacy project for her. But her younger Members will have much to explain in 2022 as they defend this gargantuan, destructive and unnecessary bill.

There’s the immigration provision that would give 6.5 million or so illegal migrants who have been in the country since 2011 a 10-year right to work in the U.S. This will probably be stripped from the bill in the Senate, but House Members will be on record for legalizing millions of migrants even as the border has become a lawless mess. The political effect will be to empower GOP restrictionists.

Then there’s the $8 billion methane “fee” that is in effect a tax on natural gas production and thus on consumer energy prices. The American Gas Association estimates this could raise the average family’s natural gas bill by 17%, so this is also a violation of President Biden’s pledge not to raise taxes on anyone earning less than $400,000 a year.

Sen. Joe Manchin might strip this from the Senate bill. But Abigail Spanberger (Va.), Elissa Slotkin (Mich.), Mikie Sherrill (N.J.) and the rest are now on record as supporting higher energy prices when they are already spiking in suburban American.

The immoderate moderates also voted for a tax cut for the rich in high-tax states by raising the state-and-local tax deduction to $80,000 from $10,000. The Penn Wharton Budget Model says that the top 10% of taxpayers will get 88% of the benefit from this provision. Most of those reside in coastal states run by Democrats.

The same Democrats who campaign against inequality and for soaking the rich thus voted to give affluent taxpayers who earn up to $10 million a year a huge tax cut. The provision costs the Treasury $230 billion through 2026, after which Democrats pretend it will raise revenue. Sure it will. Mr. Golden cited this provision as the reason he voted no, and Senate Democrats may alter or nix it. But House Democrats are still on the record.
Other lowlights that may end up in Republican campaign ads include the $2.5 billion handout to trial lawyers to deduct their expenses for contingency-fee lawsuits. Don’t forget the $1.7 billion subsidy for local journalists, most of whom are left of center. Republicans will call that, not without cause, a bribe for favorable coverage.

All of this and more is part of the biggest expansion of the entitlement state since the 1960s, and maybe ever. House Democrats say the bill spends roughly $2 trillion over 10 years, but that’s because they use gimmicks such as phasing-out programs that they have no intention of phasing out. Independent analysts put it closer to $5 trillion over a decade if the programs are made permanent.

Democrats say their specific programs are popular—who doesn’t love free child care? But voters understand that nothing is free from the government, and polls are starting to show that voters think they will end up paying for it. They are right. There are only so many rich people to soak, and Democrats are cutting taxes for most of them.

Americans have also begun to link the flood of government spending to inflation, which is acting like another tax. With this bill, passed in the wake of their nationwide election drubbing this month, Democrats are underscoring that they are the inflation party.

Mrs. Pelosi promised Democrats she wouldn’t make them vote on a bill before the Senate agreed to it, but as in 2010 she’s done that again. They’ll now have to defend provisions that couldn’t pass a Democratic Senate. No wonder Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy spoke on the House floor for eight hours. He knows the Democrats were voting to make him Speaker.