News and Analysis

Bidenomics: Blowing Out The Federal Budget

The COVID pandemic and the lockdown-induced recession did a number on American businesses and families. More than two years since the crisis began, the economy still seems to be on its last leg — even amid President Joe Biden’s lofty plan to “Build Back Better.” In a four-part series, The Daily Wire chronicles the “Bidenomics” regime and how it is eviscerating the American people.

President Joe Biden entered the White House with money printers blazing.

Weeks after proposing his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, Biden unveiled an inaugural budget proposal with a $6 trillion price tag. For fiscal year 2023, he proposed a $5.8 trillion budget. Among other items, both packages were replete with funds to bankroll climate change and racial equity initiatives.

It is not surprising for a Democratic commander-in-chief — or a Republican commander-in-chief, for that matter — to blow out the budget. What has been surprising, however, is Biden claiming credit as a budget hawk.

“Budgets are statements of values, and the budget I am releasing today sends a clear message that we value fiscal responsibility,” Biden said about his most recent proposal.

The White House has repeatedly argued that its first budget “cut the federal deficit” — the difference between government spending and government revenue — “by $350 billion,” while alleging that the second proposal will shave $1.3 trillion from the deficit.

What is missing in this equation — which even left-wing fact-checkers have called “misleading” — is the fact that deficit spending reached record highs in 2020 and 2021 because of various stimulus packages meant to combat COVID and the lockdown-induced recession.

Biden’s $350 billion improvement constitutes a decrease from $3.1 trillion to $2.8 trillion, according to data from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. After the dust settles and another $1.3 trillion is supposedly saved, the United States will be left with a $1.2 trillion deficit — far higher than any deficit seen before the COVID pandemic, or even during the second term of President Barack Obama.

“He’s been a complete disaster when it comes to spending,” Russ Vought, who directed the U.S. Office of Management and Budget under the Trump administration, told The Daily Wire. “There has been no adjustment in their policies whatsoever when it comes to spending or other things that are causing the drag.”

Indeed, President Biden would have gladly spent more without a moment of hesitation — had he been allowed to do so by Congress. Even as prices began their alarming rise at the beginning of 2021, President Biden tried to pass the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act, which would have created new federal child care, education, and healthcare programs. After facing opposition from Republicans and moderate Democrats in the Senate, the Biden administration was forced to trim the package down to $1.75 trillion.

Deficit spending, though it is often presented to the American people as stimulus, eventually has the effect of discouraging economic activity. In an analysis of Biden’s $2.7 trillion American Jobs Act — which was later dwindled down to $1.2 trillion and passed under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act — economists at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School noted that spending “financed through increased federal deficits” has the indirect effect of “crowding out private investment.”

In other words, dollars go toward servicing government debt rather than funding new private-sector ventures — a phenomenon that deals a blow to economic output over time.

It is no secret that both Democratic and Republican lawmakers are more than happy to spend money beyond the nation’s means. President George W. Bush added nearly $3.3 trillion in deficits during his two terms, President Barack Obama added nearly $6.8 trillion, and President Donald Trump added $6.6 trillion in just one term.

Though each commander-in-chief faced their own challenges that led them to pursue massive deficit spending — including the War on Terror, the Financial Crisis of 2008, and COVID — it is impossible to ramp up expenditures indefinitely. The United States has already surpassed $30.5 trillion in government debt — equating to more than $91,000 per citizen and nearly $243,000 per taxpayer.

As President Biden faces down ugly poll numbers amid inflation and other crises, Republicans are poised to decisively take back both chambers of Congress. Although Vought believes Republicans “will be better” than Biden at controlling spending, he is skeptical that they have “gotten the message.”

“We had budgets every year in the administration in which we were calling on Congress — which had Republican majorities at the time, at least for two of those four years — to be able to get spending under control. And they largely dismissed those spending cuts,” Vought explained. “Republicans will not step on the gas to the extent to which these ideologues in the White House will, but … I’ll be looking critically to see whether Republicans are coming forward with a policy agenda that actually articulates getting our house in order fiscally.”

According to Vought, the ideal budget reins in spending while “not removing the fundamentals of economic growth” by raising taxes.

“We have got to start by going aggressively after the bureaucracy that has been weaponized and is ‘woke’ against the American people,” he offered. “Then we need to have a conversation about other things that are necessary, like getting people back to work and off of these welfare programs, and increasing the labor force participation rate … I think that’s the path forward, and then we can really get back to balancing our books and … getting the country back in the right fiscal place.”

The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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