Townhall

by Bob Barr

Magic acts have always been a popular draw in Las Vegas. These days, however, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer could take their $5 Trillion Disappearing Budget Act show on the road, and give David Copperfield a real run for his money.

With one sleight of hand, these congressional charlatans can turn a $5 trillion budget to $3.5 trillion, and in the next wave of the political wand, make it disappear altogether.

We’ve come a long way downward from the late 1990s, when national leaders like then-Speaker Newt Gingrich and then-President Bill Clinton (not yet severely wounded by impeachment), could negotiate and pass through both parties’ membership in the Congress, a federal budget that actually was balanced. No black magic; only facts and transparency.

Today’s Congress under the leadership of the Democrat Party in both houses, has proven itself utterly unwilling or incapable of such effort, which explains their latest magic act. And, as magic acts go, it is certainly one for the ages.

There is no rabbit in this magician’s hat; just massive, historically high spending that will saddle future generations with the bill for a cradle-to-grave welfare state. Rather than treating the public with enough respect to be honest about the true cost of their plans, Democrats instead are gaslighting Americans into believing it costs nothing at all.

President Joe Biden took to Twitter over the weekend to boast how his plan “costs zero dollars,” while House Budget Committee member Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D) ballyhooed the “zero-dollar” narrative to The Hill.

This, of course, is a flat-out lie, and an absurd one at that. Even the “lesser” $3.5 trillion estimate is a deliberate fabrication. In July, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget calculated the true cost of Democrats’ plan to be between $5.0 and $5.5 trillion. When spending at this level, missing the mark by more than $1 trillion is not some innocent calculating mistake. It is an intentional effort to hide the truth from taxpayers, who are the ones on the hook for the final tab regardless of what Democrats promise.

The Wall Street Journal detailed some of the budget shenanigans used to cloud the real price tag. This legerdemain includes phasing-in future costs years down the road, so they are not fully factored into the bill’s 10-year estimate; it also shifts long-term costs onto states and off the federal tab. It is no wonder the WSJ called Biden’s plan “one of the greatest fiscal cons in history.”

Do Democrats they really believe Americans are so stupid as to buy this nonsense? The most disturbing aspect of this charade is that, yes, Democrats are counting on exactly that.

They believe Americans will overlook the difference between what normal people know as “cost” – that is, how much a person pays for something – and how Democrats are defining it here, as nothing more than the amount added to the national debt; in other words, no real “cost” to be concerned about.

In the real world, a $100 item at the store is not suddenly “free” if you find $100 on the ground; there is still a cost to the person who lost the $100. Democrat talking points identify this “someone else” as the “rich” and corporations (not including, of course, those corporations that contribute huge sums to help Democrats stay in power).

Also in the real world, all taxpayers – not just the “one percent” – will be tapped to pay for this boondoggle. Contrary to Democrats’ belief, you can “tax the rich” only so far before the principle of diminishing returns kicks in, and spiraling costs will require an illusory ever-expanding tax base to support them.

This is not a 10-year commitment either. History all but guarantees these programs will morph into permanent fixtures of federal policy, known as “entitlements.” As more funding is needed, Democrats will become ever more aggressive in finding new revenue streams.

What Americans must start asking, since the media will not, is if Democrats are so transparently dishonest about what is on the surface of their proposal, what is hiding in the details? We already fell once for Democrats’ “pass it so you can find out what’s in it” ploy. The cost of being fooled once again could very well wind up permanently wrecking our country’s economy.

Bob Barr represented Georgia’s Seventh District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He served as the United States Attorney in Atlanta from 1986 to 1990 and was an official with the CIA in the 1970s. He now practices law in Atlanta, Georgia and serves as head of Liberty Guard.