Cal Thomas: Humpty Dumpty and the recession

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In Washington things are rarely what they seem. It's why Congress labels bills with names they think will be more palatable to the public rather than a name that would accurately reflect the content of the legislation. Notice how many times over the years the word "civil rights" has appeared in legislation that often has had little or nothing to do with civil rights.

Now Democrats have junked the original title of President Biden's "Build Back Better" massive spending plan and rebranded it "The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022." Clearly this was in reaction to poll numbers showing the public blames the president and Democrats for the rise in food and gas prices, increased mortgage rates and so much else.

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It appears the name change and some behind-the-scenes bargaining was enough for Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) to end his opposition to the original bill, which he used to say would add significantly to the debt and not produce the results claimed by the administration.

According to The Wall Street Journal: "The deal would dedicate $64 billion to extending health care subsidies for three years for some Affordable Care Act users. This has been a high priority for the Biden administration and congressional Democrats because some subsidies are set to expire Jan. 1, 2023 and affected Americans would find out about their increased premiums this fall ahead of the midterm elections. The change would push the next expiration beyond the 2024 election." How convenient. How cynical.

The measure includes $369 billion to combat "climate change" and incentives for consumers to buy electric and hydrogen vehicles. Some Republicans call the bill "frivolous." Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who negotiated the secret deal with Manchin, appears ready to call for a vote this week.


Manchin says he agrees with Schumer who claims the bill — which includes new spending to fight "climate change" and tax increases on "the wealthy" and those evil corporations Democrats love to hate — will reduce the deficit because the "extra" revenue from the tax hikes will be used for that purpose.

The government is taking in record amounts of revenue, but the national debt is over $30 trillion and rising. Higher taxes are not the way to erase red ink. The answer is to cut spending, but you might as well ask a politician to accept term limits.

Last week before the announcement of the second straight month of economic decline, President Biden said, "We're not going to be in a recession in my view." He and his supporters not only deny the traditional definition of a recession — two straight quarters of negative growth — they are trying to redefine the definition they once accepted.

National Economic Council Director Brian Deese, a former adviser to Hillary Clinton, once accepted a two-month decline in economic growth as the definition of a recession. Now he says there are other factors at play. To quote Humpty Dumpty from "Through the Looking Glass": "When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean..."

Democrats appear to be in a panic three months before the congressional elections, so they are trying to pretend they are finally "getting things done" before their vacations, other time off and what could be for them judgment day.

The way this works is that Schumer will meet out of public view with fellow Democrats, asking what they "need" in exchange for their support of this and other bills Democrats want to pass. It almost always works because it seems the primary concern of too many politicians is the preservation of their careers, not the general welfare.

Readers may email Cal Thomas at Look for Cal Thomas' latest book "America's Expiration Date: The Fall of Empires and Superpowers and the Future of the United States" (HarperCollins/Zondervan).

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