Whenever we had major social legislation pass and become law, we had both political parties involved in the process. The measures passed with a substantial number of Democrat and Republican support, regardless of party ideology or who occupied the Oval Office. This has served our country well.

Bipartisanship, in essence, died with the Affordable Care Act when Democrats decided to go it alone. The jury may still be out on the ACA even 11 years out, but a significant piece of the Build Back Better plan includes provisions to prop it up. There have also been at least two Supreme Court decisions on its legality and Congress has spent thousands of man hours trying to overturn it. Not exactly a smooth transition.

President Biden’s Build Back Better (BBB) social welfare spending plan is far more robust, according to Biden, and unprecedented, according to Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Yet, obviously not learning anything from the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Democrats are insisting on going it alone again, while literally holding the bipartisan infrastructure bill hostage.

The tax-and-spend approach will not bring Republicans into the tent and is causing concern among moderate Democrats who realize that socialism does not work, despite the insistence of Sen. Bernie Sanders. We are not all entitled to free stuff. It was a failure even when tried by the pilgrims and early settlers in the 17th century.

Here’s a sure-fire way a major part of the BBB bill could be adopted with a significant number of Republican votes. This plan would help bring America together and help end the gridlock in Congress.

The merits of each new social program offered in BBB should be evaluated, tested, and debated by Congress. The best test is to pay for the program by eliminating or reducing the federal spending on one or some of the 80-plus social welfare programs already on the books at an annual cost of nearly $1 trillion. This could not only give the Biden administration a legitimate means of showing how it would be paid for, but it would result in no new taxes being imposed on Americans. Republicans could embrace this. The left gets new social spending programs, and the right gets fiscal responsibility. The country ultimately wins. The losers would be Japan and China who have already allowed us to borrow over $2 trillion and would welcome lending us more.

It would be a true test, a true debate. Sell your new program accompanied by an offset to the budget.

Taxing the rich as the go-to solution is incredibly old. I would guess every populist Democrat has promoted this theme. I beat a classic tax-and-spend liberal in 1990.

Connecticut can attest to the fact that new taxes, such as a newly imposed state income tax in 1991, can hurt. It radically altered the economy and attractiveness of the state to many folks. The population of Connecticut has resulted in a lost member of Congress and one of the slowest population growths in the nation. Some people vote with their feet. They go elsewhere.

Today, 61 percent of all the tax revenue comes from the top 5 percent of wage earners. The top 1 percent supply 40 percent of all our tax revenue. I assume they are the new targets of the BBB. Most of these folks did not get to be among the top 1 percent by being stupid or by failing to protect their best interests. What will they do? Leaving America is a bit extreme. It’s not like leaving a state. Hypothetically speaking, if just 5 percent of these folks did leave the U.S., the loss of tax revenue would cause a fiscal crisis, adding so much to our national debt so quickly that it would resemble a hemorrhage. Once again, I am not predicting this, but the mere thought should be of concern.

The other target in the tax-and-spend BBB is corporations. This could add fuel to the fire as corporations, taxed under this plan, to compensate for the higher tax burden, would likely increase prices on their products and services, driving up inflation. Companies are motivated by profit.

The consumer will lose with BBB.

I implore Congress to review history. Check the Social Security Act, Medicare, Medicaid, Civil Rights Acts, Voting Rights Act, etc., they all passed with strong bipartisan support, and they helped make America better without the use of tax-and-spend policies. If we’re going to build back better, let’s start there.

Gary Franks served three terms as U.S. representative for Connecticut’s 5th District. Copyright 2021 Gary Franks. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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