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Tim Scott: Build Back Better is not free, and it's not something we need

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Tim Scott

You’re flipping through the channels, and the temptation of “free” causes you to stop surfing and see what the offer is all about. The commercial narrator enthusiastically says that you can get the latest car or gadget today without paying one red cent. But if you stay tuned until the end when the salesman speed reads the fine print, the pitch that seemed too good to be true is just that.

“My Build Back Better agenda costs zero dollars.” It won’t “add a single penny to our deficit.”

You’d be forgiven for wondering whether President Joe Biden and his party are hocking snake oil or their reckless tax-and-spend package. Like the misleading commercials, it doesn’t come as a surprise when the conditions and exception reveal that the price tag isn’t actually as advertised.

Whether it’s $3.5 trillion or $1.75 trillion, the Democrats’ liberal wish list still requires increases in taxes and decreases in Americans’ spending power. But the shocking sticker price only scratches the surface of the actual cost of this plan. The real, long-term cost is much, much higher because of the junk that’s in it. That’s why President Biden and the Democrats are hoping the American people won’t take a closer look at the details.

Even without this package, our economy was on the fritz. The partisan spending that Democrats passed earlier this year has already caused an inflationary crisis that is hitting middle-class Americans hardest. With the cost of beef up nearly 20%, gas prices up more than 40% and children’s shoes more than 10% more expensive than last year, our purchasing power has gone down. If passed, this new spending spree would actually lead to lower wages and higher taxes on 95% of middle-class families in the long run.

But that’s not all. To find the money to pay for this plan, Democrats proposed to spend an additional $80 billion to hire more IRS agents to snoop on taxpayers. They wanted to empower the IRS to know about the transactions of any American who had $10,000 or more coming out of their bank account in a given year. The compliance costs would have been crippling for small-town institutions, to say nothing of the invasion of privacy for tens of millions of Americans.

Adding insult to injury for every person who would be subject to this invasion of privacy is that the Democrats need the taxpayer funds raised from this auditing scheme to offset tax breaks for wealthy individuals. Removing the SALT deduction cap to benefit blue-state millionaires at the expense of rural blue-collar workers makes about as much sense as Democrats’ nonsensical zero-dollar sales pitch.

The left is squeezing workers and small business owners for every last dime.

Democrats would allow unelected bureaucrats at the National Labor Relations Board to assess financial penalties on employers to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars — in effect, making the federal government judge, jury and executioner for small businesses.

They’d codify a new type of discrimination that gives tax breaks on electric vehicles coming out of union auto manufacturers and not to those located in right-to-work states. The thousands of men and women who work at Volvo, Mercedes and BMW in South Carolina are being disadvantaged by this heavy-handed progressive policy that is another avenue to give a tax break to the wealthy at the expense of hardworking manufacturers.

Whether it’s $13.3 billion for bureaucrats to administer new government programs or $1.25 billion for “fair housing” groups or $200 million for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s park pet project, Democrats are simply spending money we don’t have to pay for things we don’t need.

The Democrats are determined to drive our country down the one-way street to socialism, ignoring the warning signs of out-of-control inflation, disappointing jobs reports and crippling national debt.

The good news is the “zero down” sales pitch isn’t flying with families whose pocketbooks feel lighter because of the Democrats’ recklessness. Americans across the country, and even a few sensible Democrats, are speaking up against plans to spend trillions of dollars to implement big-government socialism. I urge my colleagues across the aisle to drop the fast-talking marketing scheme and have an honest conversation about the future of our country. The cost of this bill of goods is just too high.

Tim Scott is a Republican U.S. senator from South Carolina.  

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