Whether It Passes Or Not, We're Gonna Pay For Everything In The Reconciliation Bill Somehow

Class War
Woman pushing cart in store with many sigs reading "Buy Bulk And Save"
Original photo: www.flickr.com

This week, in his latest tantrum, Joe Manchin — who loves babies so much that he wants to force us all to have them against our will — told Democrats that he will allow them to pick one (1) program out of the four programs in the reconciliation bill meant to help working families and ditch the rest of them. It should be said that literally all of these programs — universal pre-K, subsidized childcare, making the child tax credit permanent and paid family leave. It should be noted that all of these programs are extremely popular. 70 percent of Republicans, even, want universal pre-K and 78 percent of them want subsidized childcare. They were pretty happy about the child tax credits, too. Huge majorities of the population also want paid family leave.

Since the beginning of this whole thing, Manchin and Sinema have been determined to get the price tag of he reconciliation bill down, acting like they're the adults in the room, the only one trying to be fiscally responsible, while all of the other Democrats have their head in the clouds, demanding ponies for all.

And honestly, I'm so tired of that shit, because the truth is — those opposing Build Back Better and other programs like it is not the "fiscally responsible" thing to do, just like it's not the "fiscally responsible" thing to do to drive on empty, even if you are currently broke and have to put the gas on a credit card. It's the fiscally stupid thing to do. It's irresponsible. Not just because it means people's lives will be less pleasant, but because it will cost us in the long run. It also flies in the face of common sense that we all understand when it comes to our own finances.

We are running up the bill anyway, even if we don't pay for it with taxes.

The choice isn't actually "Do we spend $3.5 trillion or do we spend less than that or do we spend nothing?" We could eliminate this entire bill, throw it out the window, and we'd still have to pay for what is in it. And we'd probably end up spending more.

Americans already pay for childcare. In fact, we spend $42 billion a year on child care. Over the course of 10 years, that's $420 billion, not accounting for inflation. Not spending that $3.5 trillion with taxes doesn't mean that we're not still going to spend that $3.5 trillion — and probably a lot more — on the very things that are in the bill. This includes things like the Citizens Climate Corps and other environmental protection items, because doing as much as we can with that right now means that we don't have to spend a whole lot more money to fix it later. It's not that we're not going to end up spending it, it's that we're spending it less efficiently.

Like a lot of people, I don't have kids. But I sure think it's a good idea to invest in their care and education, because there will come a time when we will all have to rely on them. Americans love to think of ourselves as so independent that other people's lives don't affect us, and that nothing can affect us if we do "personal responsibility" well enough, but that's simply not possible.

The reconciliation bill is an investment.

We know that if we live in a capitalist society and want our money to grow, it is usually better to invest than just stick it all in the bank. Sure, there's an element of risk involved, but there is also risk in doing nothing, because in a bank your savings could come to be worth less over time due to inflation. Investing in our future means we get to collect on that investment rather than seeing it all shrink away. We would be putting our money to work for us rather than just letting it sit there.

If we implement the bill now, that means better education and better jobs for people which also means they then pay more in taxes. If we keep going the way we are going now – with a massive percentage of people working jobs that don't pay them a living wage, meaning they pay less in taxes and also have no money to spend so that other people can make money and pay their employees with it, and so on and so on. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that the bill will support 3,246,677 jobs, and that's not counting the jobs that those jobs will support and the people that will be able to make more money themselves because of those jobs.

I get that $3.5 trillion seems like a lot, but not spending it also means losing out on a lot of money, for everyone.

We know that buying in bulk is cheaper and more efficient than paying retail.

That is why people buy memberships to shop at Costco or BJ's Wholesale Club and not to Louis Vuitton, which notably never has any sales. While it's a stupid idea to buy things in bulk if you're not going to use them, it makes sense for things that you are always going to need and that are a pain in the ass to run out of, like paper products, cleaning products, spices and seasonings and those little peanut butter stuffed pretzel nugget things. I mean, sure. It would probably cost less, initially, to run out to CVS and buy one box of Kleenex. But that adds up after a while and eventually, if you have sinus issues, it's not actually the cheaper option.

Medicare, essentially, buys pharmaceuticals and medical care in bulk. It should be using that leverage to pay less. However, we're all paying more for it because the "fiscally responsible" people don't want them to be able to do that. Medicare could be fabulous and significantly less expensive than it currently is if it weren't for these very wise people

It's simply more efficient to have universal pre-K for all children. We know for a fact that it's important to early childhood development, that parents need it so they can work and pay taxes, and we know that those doing it are not getting paid enough. Which means we could very well end up with a situation where no one wants or takes those jobs. Making it a public good (and paying people a living wage to do it) would be a massive stimulus to the economy and put children on the road to future success. Duh.

People only notice things that directly affect them and their lives

This is not an economic argument so much as it is a "duh" argument. There's not going to be a situation where we spend all of this money, improve people's day-to-day lives, but then "something" bad happens because we spent $3.5 trillion doing it. Even the rich who will have to pay more in taxes are not actually going to experience life any differently than they did before we spent it. And they'll actually benefit from it too, because they rely on the services of working people to maintain the lifestyles to which they have become accustomed.

I worked luxury retail during the recession — let me assure you, they'll be just fine. In fact, they'll be better, because economic inequality breeds instability, which makes everyone kind of go into hoarding mode.

If we're talking about votes, improving people's lives is a great way to get them. No one's life is going to be improved by not spending that money.

We're probably not going to get $3.5 trillion, and at this point we'll be lucky if we get anything. But Democrats need to realize that pretty much the whole thing they have going for them, as a party, are things like this. These are the things that allow us to say that poor racist folks are voting against their own economic interests. They have to do something other than preserve the status quo and not be literal fascists if they want to keep winning elections.

Do your Amazon shopping through this link, because reasons.

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse


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