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No Psaki, the cost of BBB isn’t ‘fake’ — because Washington always lies about spending




No Psaki, the cost of BBB isn’t ‘fake’ — because Washington always lies about spending

The House-passed Build Back Better legislation has always relied on gimmicks to hide its true cost.

Lawmakers attempted to squeeze $5 trillion in 10-year benefits into a $2.4 trillion score by using fake expiration dates, such as assuming that the expanded child tax credit ends after one year, health insurance expansions end after 4 years, and child care and pre-school subsidies end after 6 years.

By matching the fake $2.4 trillion score with $2.2 trillion in new taxes and health offsets, President Biden claims that Build Back Better is paid for (which is false even under the original CBO score).

Last Friday, CBO confirmed in a letter to Congressional Republicans that removing the expiration dates and making the new provisions permanent would raise the 10-year shortfall to $2.8 trillion — making Build Back Better the most expensive permanent expansion of government in five decades.

Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) — whose vote is surely needed to pass BBB — has condemned the “shell games, budget gimmicks that make the real cost of the so-called $1.75 trillion bill estimated to be almost twice that amount, if the full time is run out, if you extended it permanently.”

The Democratic blowback was fierce. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki called the letter “a fake CBO score that is not based on the actual bill that anybody is voting on.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer both pledged that any future extensions of BBB would be paid for in new taxes or spending cuts, with Schumer calling the CBO report a “fake score based on mistruths.”

Sen. Joe Manchin has every reason to question the Biden administration’s reckless spending.
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Recent history, though, shows that such future offsets are extraordinarily unlikely. Instead, Democrats are playing one of the oldest budget games in Washington: Hook taxpayers on a “temporary” benefit and then count on future lawmakers not daring to take away an existing benefit from voters, even if no new offsets can be found.

Look no further than last week. The day before CBO released the permanent score of Build Back Better, Sen. Schumer, Rep. Pelosi, and Congressional Democrats voted to delay or cancel the $80 billion in automatic spending cuts that had been required to offset a portion of the American Rescue Plan that had been signed in March. Canceling these automatic cuts has become so routine that most of the media did not even cover it.

In fact, this practice goes back for decades. The 2001 tax cuts were enacted under reconciliation rules that required expirations after 10 years. A bipartisan majority later made the law permanent for nearly all taxpayers without offsets.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is trying to rush Biden’s Build Back Better agenda to the Senate floor for a vote by the end of this year.
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Also, for nearly two decades, each December would see Congress cancel a group of automatic Medicare provider cuts and small tax increases — until in 2015, when they dropped the charade and made the cancellations permanent.

In 2009, President Obama signed the “PAYGO” law to ensure that all tax cuts and entitlement expansions be fully offset, or face automatic sequestration savings later. Yet Congress has subsequently canceled every PAYGO sequestration, in a matter so routine that the law is not even discussed in most legislative negotiations.

We can keep going. The 2011 Budget Control Act capped future discretionary spending increases and required modest automatic entitlement cuts. Those caps were gradually raised beginning the following year, and by 2020 Congressional spenders were busting the caps by $168 billion annually and canceling the automatic entitlement cuts.

Former President Barack Obama’
Former President Barack Obama’s “Pay-As-You-Go” law from 2009 is now irrelevant thanks to Congress.
AFP/Getty Images

Current law limits highway and transit spending levels to dedicated revenues such as from the gas tax. Congress regularly breaks these spending limits, which has led to $230 billion in general fund bailouts of the highway and transit trust funds since 2008, including a $90 billion bailout buried quietly in the recent infrastructure bill.

Much of the family provisions of the 2017 tax cuts are set to expire at the end of 2025, but neither party has indicated any interest in allowing the tax cuts to expire for non-wealthy taxpayers.

Four broad trends emerge from these examples:

  • First, that automatic savings or policy expirations scheduled for the future are almost always cancelled.
  • Second, these cancellations occur regardless of whether offsets are identified, with the more expensive extensions never paid for.
  • Third, these cancellation votes are almost always bipartisan — even when the original law had been partisan — because neither party wants to remove an existing benefit.
  • Fourth, these cancellation votes are so routine and non-controversial that the press rarely even covers them.

So when the White House and Congressional leaders claim that they would allow the expiration of new benefits related to the child tax credit, earned income tax credit, health insurance, child care, and pre-school unless lawmakers can come up with $3 trillion in new taxes or spending cuts, they are taking us for fools.

After all, if $3 trillion in additional savings were politically feasible, then Congress would have included them in the current BBB legislation in order to make permanent the new benefits. Instead, lawmakers tell us that additional new taxes that could not pass the laugh test today will suddenly become feasible next year when the benefit expirations begin.

Then again, President Biden has also bizarrely claimed that BBB would “cost zero dollars,” which suggests he may again invent new accounting to hide these future costs.

The White House has made clear that it intends for all of BBB’s new benefits to be permanent, at a cost of $5 trillion over the decade. Yet the House has identified only $2 trillion in pay-fors, and that figure is likely to fall once the Senate marks up the bill. Counting on lawmakers to enact new middle-class benefits and then allow those benefits to quickly expire flies in the face of history and basic politics.

Voters should expect Build Back Better to ultimately add $3 trillion in debt over the decade, and that’s not “fake.”

Brian Riedl is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Follow him on twitter @Brian_Riedl


Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death




Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

Legendary NFL coach and broadcaster John Madden died Tuesday morning at 85, the NFL announced. News of the football icon’s passing hit Twitter on Tuesday evening, and athletes, coaches and broadcasters from across the sports world reacted.

Fellow broadcasting legend Dick Vitale, who is currently battling cancer, called Madden “the greatest analyst of all time of any sport” in his Twitter tribute.

Former Yankees pitcher and notable Raiders fan CC Sabathia said “your legacy will live forever.” Madden coached the then-Oakland Raiders from 1969-78, a couple of years before Sabathia, a Vallejo, California native, was born. Lakers star LeBron James had similar words about Madden’s lasting legacy, adding an infinity emoji.

Former tennis star and social justice activist Billie Jean King recalled meeting Madden as a “privilege.”

Radio voice of the Rangers Kenny Albert, a five-sport broadcaster who’s been with FOX Sports since its inception in 1994, shared a photo circa 26 years ago to remember Madden.

ESPN’s Bomani Jones took a bit of a shot at current color commentators, noting that Madden “set an unreachable standard.”

Frank Caliendo, who’s made a career out of impersonations, including one for Madden, said he was surprised how emotional he felt.

Several football players, and others, including Saints running back Mark Ingram II and former Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, credited Madden with being part of the reason why they love football.

Rams wide receiver and NFL MVP contender Cooper Kupp quote the late coach in his tribute: “The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer.”

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence




Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

MINNEAPOLIS — The Knicks got back another body in rookie point guard Miles McBride, who was cleared from protocols Tuesday and rejoined the team in Minnesota.

But there is no longer any hype for the rookie’s return. Kemba Walker is back as the starting point guard and coming off winning Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors with four standout games, including his Christmas Day spectacular. The Knicks have gone 2-2 since Walker regained the starting job.

“It’s great,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He had a great week. He’s playing great basketball. The team winning helps him get recognized and he was a big part of driving that winning. It’s great for the team.’’

McBride was also spectacular in his last outing before getting COVID-19, when he played the entire second half Dec. 16 in Houston and seemingly earned a spot in the rotation. In fact, McBride had strung together two decent outings before he was ruled out. But things have changed since his emergence and McBride is likely back to being a bit player.

Without a practice, McBride wasn’t even expected to see time when the Knicks faced the Timberwolves to kick off a four-game road trip.

Miles McBride
NBAE via Getty Images

Of course, with Walker’s arthritic knee, anything is possible. The Knicks play Detroit on Wednesday in a back-to-back, so it’s uncertain whether Walker will complete both contests. In addition, Immanuel Quickley is out of COVID-19 protocols but Thibodeau wasn’t sure he was ready for meaningful minutes.

That left Walker against the depleted Timberwolves, who were missing their three top players (Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell), all because of COVID-19 .

Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker

When McBride got sidelined by the virus and Derrick Rose needed ankle surgery, Walker was resurrected by Thibodeau and it’s been a stunning comeback story.

Though Thibodeau has clear reservations about Walker based on his nine-game banishment due to his defensive malaise as an undersized point guard, he admitted after the Christmas Day triple-double against Atlanta that Walker is playing “much more aggressive.”

Walker’s triple-double that featured 10 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds was a lot different than his prior outing, when he scored 44 points against Washington.

“I thought his passing was terrific,’’ Thibodeau said before the Knicks resumed their schedule.

“Kemba had control of the game. The game tells you what to do. That’s what I loved about the way he played. I don’t think he forced anything. They puts size on him and were aggressive in their pick-and-roll coverage. He didn’t fight it. He attacked pressure the way you like to attack pressure. You don’t fight pressure with pressure. Don’t try to split it. Get rid of it, go to the backside. Let the game tell you what to do.’’

The Knicks coach is finally seeing all the elements of what Walker can do. Before his demotion, Walker was nothing more than a no-defense, 3-point shooter whose plus-minus was an abysmal minus-122.

Thibodeau was also concerned about his durability in sitting out two of the three back-to-back sets. The last load management game in Atlanta in late November triggered Thibodeau’s decision.

But now it’s only superlatives from Thibodeau in judging the last four games.

“Sometimes it’s going to be his shooting, sometimes it’s his penetration and getting in the paint to force a collapse and sometimes they’re being aggressive with their traps get rid of the ball quickly,’’ Thibodeau said. “The overall play, his rebounding. When your guards rebound, those are key to fast breaks. The more guard rebounding we get the better we can be. ‘’

The Knicks still have three players in protocols — centers Nerlens Noel and Jericho Sims and the newly infected Wayne Selden. Quickley and Kevin Knox were cleared on Christmas but were held out for conditioning.

No matter. The Knicks go as Kemba goes.

“He’s much more aggressive,’’ Thibodeau said. “That was the challenge. At the beginning of the year he and Evan were two new starters. Sometimes guys are trying to fit in. he’s being very aggressive which is the way we want him to play. Not deferring at all. When he and Julius [Randle] are aggressive like that our team is different.’’

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Bar raises dramatically for Zach Wilson in matchup with Tom Brady, Buccaneers




Zach Wilson and Tom Brady

When Zach Wilson stares across the MetLife Stadium field at the opposite sideline this Sunday, it won’t be Trevor Lawrence he’ll be looking at as his game-day counterpart.

Lawrence, drafted by Jacksonville one spot before the Jets selected Wilson at No. 2 overall last April, is a contemporary.

This Sunday at MetLife, the Jets rookie quarterback won’t be staring at a contemporary on the other sideline. He’ll be staring at the GOAT.

Tom Brady.

The bar raises dramatically for Wilson and the Jets, who are coming off of their feel-good, get-well win over the woeful Jaguars and Lawrence this past Sunday.

Brady and Buccaneers, who are 11-4, NFC South division champions and seeking to repeat as Super Bowl champions, play the Jets, who are 4-11 and seeking more signs of development from their rookie quarterback.

To say this is a step up in competition for Wilson and the Jets going from Lawrence and the Jags to Brady and the Bucs is as obvious as pointing out that Tampa Bay receiver Antonio Brown has had a few off-the-field incidents during his otherwise stellar NFL career.

There hasn’t been a lot to keep the interest of the Jets fan this season — other than watching Wilson’s development. That took an unfortunate pause for the four games Wilson missed with a knee injury, but he’s been back for five games and has looked like a better quarterback, throwing only two interceptions in those games (none in the last three) since returning from his injury.

The problem, though, is that Wilson hasn’t been producing enough touchdowns, throwing for three of them and rushing for four others in the past five games.

Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg; AP

Baby steps, though.

Wilson was the better quarterback this past Sunday when matched up with Lawrence, who threw for more yards than Wilson did, but Wilson ran for 91 yards, including his electric 52-yard scoring jaunt, and made key throws when he needed them.

Wilson will not win Sunday’s game against Brady and the Bucs throwing for the 102 yards he had against the Jaguars. He and the Jets will need more.

Consider this: Brady enters the game having thrown 37 TD passes and for 4,580 yards this season and averages a league-high 305.2 passing yards per game.

Then this: The Buccaneers average 29.5 points per game this season, second most in the NFL.

And this: Wilson doesn’t have a single 300-yard passing game, averages 183 passing yards per game and has thrown seven TD passes in 11 games.

Seven TD passes is a pedestrian two-game total for Brady.

Wilson and the Jets are playing with house money anyway in what always has been a developmental season, so Sunday against Brady should, at its very least, be a great measuring-stick learning experience for Wilson, who’s studied Brady on tape.

Wilson revealed this month that he watched film of Brady before the Jets played the Eagles on Dec. 5 in an effort to pick up tips on how Brady worked against the Eagles defense when he played them earlier in the season.

“I thought it was really cool to see kind of how he went through his whole process, how he navigated the pocket, different things like that,” Wilson said at the time.

On Sunday, Wilson gets to see that process up close as Brady tries to dissect a Jets defense that has yielded 29.9 points per game this season, the most in the NFL.

That puts an added onus on Wilson to produce on the other side of the ball, because he knows Brady is going to get his. Wilson will likely need to produce four TDs — any way he can — for the Jets to simply remain competitive with the Super Bowl champs.

That’s a lot to ask of a 22-year-old kid who’s produced just 11 TDs in his 11 starts, up against Brady, who’s thrown 618 TD passes and for 83,784 yards in his remarkable career.

It, too, is a lot to ask playing against an aggressive Tampa Bay defense that’s ranked No. 9 in the NFL in points allowed (20.8 per game) and is led by former Jets head coach Todd Bowles, who’d surely like to send a holiday message to his former employer.

If you don’t think Bowles will be blitzing the bejesus out of Wilson, then you probably think Antonio Brown is a living saint.

The good news for the Jets is that Wilson has shown incremental improvements, particularly when it comes to his decision-making and quicker releases on his throws.

“He’s coming along, he’s getting more comfortable, he’s calmer back there,’’ Jets coach Robert Saleh said Monday. “He’s in a great headspace and it’s going to be fun to watch him grow, continue to grow.’’

A big part of that growth will take place this Sunday as he watches the GOAT operate from the opposite sideline at MetLife.

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