The colossal bill Democrats in Washington, DC, are assembling this week is a slap in the face to Americans who work, pay taxes and support their families. It demeans the work ethic and glorifies government handouts, sending the message that work and self-sufficiency are for suckers: better to climb on Uncle Sam’s gravy train, which will now provide cradle-to-grave benefits.
It extends “Biden bucks” — monthly payments to almost all parents, based on how many children they have, regardless of if the parents work. Democrats are also promising virtually free child care until kids turn 5, free community college, and, for seniors, new Medicare and elder-care benefits.
It also includes 12 weeks a year paid leave for anyone who claims a family member — even a distant relative like a spouse’s grandmother — needs care.
These freebies are rolled into one massive bill, expected to run about 10,000 pages, to be swiftly passed before anyone reads it.
With only a slim majority, Democrats have no mandate to turn America into a European-style welfare state, but they’re determined to ram it through anyway.
With the outcome of the 2022 midterm elections uncertain, “many of us feel that this is the biggest opportunity we will have,” explains Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.). It’s vote-buying on a grand scale.
This bill pours money down a rathole. It allocates a whopping $45 billion to make community college free. Students won’t have to spend a single dollar on tuition or fees — or pursue studies that prepare them for work.
Only about one in five students now finish community college within two years. A big reason is the lack of academic skills when they enter. Nothing in this program will change that.
The bill spends half a trillion dollars on the mother of all family-leave plans. Uncle Sam will send out checks based solely on an employee’s word that a family member needs care: No doctor’s note or medical records are required, and even the self-employed are eligible. It’s an invitation to vast fraud.
And a nightmare for small businesses, which have to hire a replacement and yet still keep the job open for the employee on leave.
Dems tout the overall bill as helping lift the poor. Speaker Nancy Pelosi brags that monthly payments to parents will “cut child poverty in half.” Nonsense. Government entitlements don’t cut poverty or improve mobility for poor children; a working parent does: That was the idea behind the landmark 1996 welfare reforms.
Yet this bill lacks incentives to work. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is urging a work requirement for parents to get monthly payments, but the left (which never accepted the 1996 reforms) considers that a cruel heresy.
Most Americans don’t want to swap the idea of success through hard work for government paternalism. But that’s what the bill does.
Our country already has a generous social safety net, including federal programs to subsidize housing, food, child care, college, medical care, and even cell phones for the poor. This bill would move us to a welfare state, increasing social spending by as much as a third — even more if the Democrats manage to legalize 8 million illegal immigrants and make them eligible for the benefits, as they’re trying to do.
Europe shows the dismal results of a declining work ethic and ever-expanding government entitlements. Europeans produce less — GDP per capita is lower there — because they work fewer hours. They have to settle for smaller homes, fewer household appliances and conveniences, and a lower material standard of living. Everything they manage to buy is laden with hidden taxes to support their “caring” governments, taxes that fall especially hard on the working class.
That is the choice Americans face: Adopt European-style entitlements and the suffocating taxes to pay for them, as socialist Bernie Sanders wants, or work hard and have more spending money to buy what you and your family want.
Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York.