House progressive leader to Manchin: How about we just trim a few years off the $3.5T boondoggle?

The most amusing part of this? Rep. Pramila Jayapal framed this as operating “in good faith.” With Joe Manchin standing firm in his resolve (for now) to hold the reconciliation bill to $1.5 trillion and to get rid of accounting games that threaten to make the real cost an order of magnitude higher, the leader of the House Progressive Caucus offered a compromise, of sorts. How about playing even more budgetary games to save face?

That’s, um, special:

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tried that offer already, to no avail, and everyone understands why. What progressives offer with this remedy is to shorten the active time for all of these new programs, which will bring down the price on the bill — in terms of reconciliation. However, that will also force a later Congress to vote to cancel the automatically renewed funding for these programs in order to realize those cost savings. Progressives understand how difficult it is to cancel programs, which is why they are making this offer.

With that in mind, this is a laughable statement:

This offer is anything but a good faith offer, and Jayapal knows it. They want Manchin to use it to declare an ersatz victory and depart the field, knowing full well that simply trimming cost-years off the package will have no real-world impact on spending. And Jayapal gives the game away nearly in the same breath, insisting that Congress can’t choose between massive spending programs and simply must fund them all, in perpetuity:

Wouldn’t Jayapal make the same fallacious argument in five years, when the programs come up for a potential cutoff of funding? If not, why not? And if so, what good does her offer do in terms of spending discipline?

And lastly, this argument flies in the face of Manchin’s specific criticisms of new programs, not just budgetary flim-flams. Shouldn’t Congress fix what’s broken first?

Progressives are lashing out at the ignominy that some members of Congress are still allowed to disagree with them and that a radical transformation of American welfare spending isn’t easier. But Manchin’s $1.5 trillion compromise is enormous. Also, as the Manhattan Institute’s Brian Riedl reminds us, it’s not as if Manchin isn’t himself a big-government guy. Riedl writes in the New York Post, “Manchin already voted for the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill in March, and helped craft the $550 billion infrastructure bill that passed the Senate. He also voted for a budget resolution that increases the discretionary spending baseline by $1 trillion over the decade.”

Democrat-driven opposition to this spending expansion should give everyone pause, rather than incite the fury it has unleashed. At the very least, Democrats should take some time to answer Manchin’s valid point that “spending trillions more on new and expanded government programs, when we can’t even pay for the essential social programs, like Social Security and Medicare, is the definition of fiscal insanity.” Indeed, we’re definitely not in 2005 anymore.

Good faith, indeed.