The irony of the Build Back Better bill passed in the House with Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s brute force last week is that it is called a “reconciliation” bill, since it attempts to straddle so many irreconcilable differences in the Democratic Party.
The whole mess now moves to the Senate, where two things are certain: The final bill, if it passes at all, will be drastically different from the House bill; and the final bill will contain hundreds of billions for “climate-change action” and “clean energy” because this (along with racism) is the central mania of the Democratic Party today.
Aside from the huge price tag, will the climate and energy features add up to a serious and coherent policy? If the House bill is any indication, the answer is a resounding “No.”
The headline is that Build Back Better includes more than $500 billion for climate and clean-energy measures, but keep in mind that the already-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill included $150 billion for clean-energy baubles such as electric-vehicle chargers ($7.5 billion) and electric school buses ($5 billion), so the grand total of both bills would be about $650 billion.
What are we actually getting for that eye-popping sum?
Some of the infrastructure bill targets worthy improvements, such as $65 billion for upgrading our creaky electricity grid and $50 billion for “climate resilience,” which includes common-sense steps such as building more robust defenses against flooding and better managing national forests to reduce wildfire risk.
The bulk of the Build Back Better bill, on the other hand, consists of large tax credits and subsidies for special interests with marginal benefits — and, incredibly, still more tax breaks for the affluent on top of the reinstatement of the state and local tax deduction that will deliver more than 90 percent of its benefits to the top 1 percent of income earners.