Heritage Foundation Op-Ed Warns Against Build Back Better Inflation ‘Boondoggle’

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A new opinion editorial by an influential conservative think tank pulls no punches as it attacks what remains of President Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda, calling the current iteration of the plan an inflationary “boondoggle” that would harm consumers by imposing price controls on common pharmaceuticals.

On Thursday, the Heritage Foundation published a new polemic by five authors affiliated with the conservative think tank, arguing that the Build Back Better plan proposed by Biden must be rejected by Congress, lest the American public suffer even worse ravages of inflation.

‘Socialist Nightmare’

The column goes so far as to refer to Build Back Better as a “socialist nightmare,” alleging that Biden’s proposals for additional government spending and pharmaceutical price controls would “pour gasoline on the fire” of inflation.

“If this sounds like the approach of the 1970s, it is—rapidly expanding federal spending and the money supply, and ultimately triggering double-digit inflation. Then, too, rather than rein in spending, Washington resorted to price controls … In the 1970s, government price-meddling led to gasoline lines stretching for blocks. This time the price-meddling will make it harder for vulnerable Americans to get their hands on lifesaving drugs,” the authors argue.

Build Back Better’s Troubled Path in Congress

Since then-candidate Biden proposed the Build Back Better agenda during his 2020 presidential campaign, the agenda has evolved significantly, becoming smaller in scope and ambition as legislative gridlock has forced Biden to revise his more radical proposals. Though the first part of the agenda, the American Rescue Plan, was signed into law in March 2021, Biden has faced difficulty getting approval of the two other portions of his agenda. The second part, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, was passed into law as a significantly modified bipartisan bill in November 2021.

What remains of Biden’s Build Back Better agenda is the third portion, the “American Families Plan,” which is the target of the Heritage Foundation column. The American Families Plan would include provisions to limit carbon dioxide emissions and expand health care coverage, including significant additional spending on Affordable Care Act credits and Medicare.

The Biden administration has disputed claims such as those made by the authors of the recent op-ed, arguing that Build Back Better would have a deflationary effect.

“We have heard from economic experts out there. We have heard from even Jason Furman, folks who are critical of us who have said that—said the opposite: that the President’s plan on reconciliation will actually bring down inflation—an anti-inflation bill, if you will,” said White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in a recent press briefing.

In any event, it appears unlikely that such a plan will become law during Biden’s incumbent term: Negotiations with Sen. Joe Manchin, the centrist Democrat from West Virginia widely seen as the swing vote in the Senate, have reportedly stalled in recent months, prompting Biden to declare a “national climate emergency” earlier this week.

The Way Forward

Nonetheless, the authors in the Heritage Foundation commentary made clear their position that if politicians do not heed the lessons of the 1970s, the country could enter a period of stagflation and economic woes. Instead, the Heritage Foundation editorial prescribes a regimen of spending cuts, tax cuts, and deregulation.

“What would stop the chaos? Simple: Rein in federal spending and end the war on production. Radically scale down the handouts, the regulations, and extortionate taxes that strangle businesses, factories, and the tens of millions of workers they employ… If the Biden administration and congressional Democrats are serious about ending the pain for American workers and American families, they need to follow that lead: End the wasteful trillions in spending, end the increasingly catastrophic war on production,” Heritage Foundation author Peter St Onge wrote in another recent column for the think tank.

With the current congressional gridlock and Biden’s waning political capital, the window of opportunity for ambitious and radical proposals such as the original iteration of the Build Back Better agenda may have passed. As the 2022 congressional midterms loom in the not-so-distant horizon, voters will ultimately decide whether they concur with the Heritage Foundation’s solutions for the troubles with the U.S. economy, and it will then fall upon Biden to decide to what degree such an approach would be worth testing as inflation continues to expand.

Nicholas Dolinger

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Nicholas Dolinger is a business reporter for The Epoch Times.