Democrats' new agenda: Infrastructure starts at the moment of conception?

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

You can run, but perhaps you’d better Hyde too, if you’re a Democrat pushing what the New York Times calls “Democrats’ ambitious social policy plan.” While Joe Biden and his partners in Congress try to kneecap the Hyde Amendment and fight the new abortion law in Texas, they may be conceding the point on human life’s starting point. Their new agenda promises government subsidies “from conception to old age,” Jonathan Weisman reports — and repeats:

When congressional committees meet this week to begin formally drafting Democrats’ ambitious social policy plan, they will be undertaking the most significant expansion of the nation’s safety net since the war on poverty in the 1960s, devising legislation that would touch virtually every American’s life, from conception to aged infirmity. …

To grasp the intended measure’s scope, consider a life, from conception to death. Democrats intend to fund paid family and medical leave to allow a parent to take some time off during pregnancy and after a child’s birth.

This would construct what Weisman also calls a “cradle to grave” social system that would vastly escalate federal spending. However, the scope of these programs clearly go beyond “cradle” if family leave includes subsidizing pregnancy leaves as well as post-natal maternity/parental leave. Presumably, the eligibility for such subsidies would not start one minute before birth, and would likely extend all the way to the first indications of conception, as Weisman indicates.

That cuts against the very argument Democrats have been making for abortion. Over the past decade, they have supported on-demand abortion access throughout gestation for the last few years, while also reversing course on the very popular Hyde Amendment that prevents federal funding for abortions. Are we now to believe that pre-born human life requires government subsidies from conception but also that killing it has no impact on human life? And if it’s not human life in the womb at conception, then why does government need to provide a social safety net for it?

Of course, this probably isn’t going anywhere, since this “ambitious social policy plan” comes in the $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill that looks doomed already:

Passage of the bill, which could spend as much as $3.5 trillion over the next decade, is anything but certain. President Biden, who has staked much of his domestic legacy on the measure’s enactment, will need the vote of every single Democrat in the Senate, and virtually every one in the House, to secure it. And with two Democratic senators, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, saying they would not accept such a costly plan, it will challenge Democratic unity like nothing has since the Affordable Care Act.

Manchin’s already made it clear he’s not going to sign onto another massive spending bill of this scope. This kind of social engineering is precisely the hobby-horse nonsense to which Manchin objects, so far off topic as to be irrelevant. Plus, it comes at a time when our existing social safety nets are beginning to fray under the weight of an aging population and lower economic growth.

On the other hand, the pro-life movement should take note of this new argument from Democrats. As it turns out, life at conception is actually infrastructure!