Stefanik denounces Build Back Better plan as ‘radical’

Representative Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, speaks at a Back the Blue rally on Aug. 5, 2020, in front of the Jefferson County Court building in Watertown. (Kara Dry/Watertown Daily Times)

WASHINGTON — When the multi-trillion dollar Build Back Better Act passed the House Friday, Republican leaders including Rep. Elise Stefanik immediately criticized it as “radical.”

In a joint release sent late Friday, Republican House Caucus Chairwoman Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., said the plan will be a major drag on Americans’ finances, increasing prices and worsening inflation. The legislation passed without any Republican votes in the House, and one Democrat voted against it.

The spending plan, portrayed as the second half to President Joseph R. Biden’s two-pronged infrastructure and social spending agenda, lays out about $2 trillion in extra funding for a variety of social programs including children’s education, care for seniors, medical benefits for Medicare and Medicaid recipients, four weeks of paid family leave for most workers and a broad slate of environmental protection programs.

It also includes some new taxes, and tax credits, and controversially includes a raise to the cap on the state and local tax deduction on federal income taxes, which allows mostly rich taxpayers from high-tax states to cut down on what they owe.

The Congressional Budget Office projects that the package will increase the federal deficit by about $160 billion over the next 10 years.

“At a time when Americans are paying outrageously higher prices for gas at the pump and food at the grocery store, Democrats responded by ramming through a multi-trillion dollar tax-and-spending spree that will drive inflation even higher, hitting lower-income families the most,” the House Republican leaders said.

Outside the Capitol on Thursday, Stefanik made similar points, with the entire House Republican conference gathered behind her. She said the bill would worsen illegal border crossings because it provides for work permits and a path to legal status for some undocumented immigrants, and would hurt Americans’ finances by raising taxes and prices for food, transportation and heating.

“We have an energy crisis with the price of gas skyrocketing across America, and Democrats will make this worse with a ‘heat your home’ tax and an attack on American energy independence,” she said.

Opinions seem mixed on if the bill will truly impact inflation if implemented — some economists say yes, others say no, and some, including President Biden’s administration, say the bill’s extra funding for tax enforcement at the IRS will cut down on its effect on the federal budget overall, potentially helping curb inflation.

In their statement, the House Republican leaders portrayed the additional IRS funding and the SALT deduction cap raise as “devastating provisions.” In 2017, Stefanik voted no on President Donald J. Trump’s tax bill because it cut the SALT deduction cap.

The bill now moves to the Senate, where it faces an uncertain future. The bill passed the House without a single Republican vote, and it is anticipated that no Republican senators will support the measure in that evenly-divided chamber. It is not yet assured that Senate Democrats all support the Build Back Better Bill, and it will likely see changes made before the Senate finally considers it.


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