Logo
Sound journalism, grounded in facts and Biblical truth | Donate

What the “Build Back Better” bill is actually about

R. Albert Mohler Jr. | The real goal is the transformation of American society


President Biden speaks to the press about his spending plans. Associated Press/Photo by Patrick Semansky

What the “Build Back Better” bill is actually about
You have {{ remainingArticles }} free {{ counterWords }} remaining. You've read all of your free articles.

Full access isn’t far.

We can’t release more of our sound journalism and commentary without a subscription, but we can make it easy for you to come aboard.

Get into news that is grounded in facts and Biblical truth for as low as $3.99 per month.

LET'S GO

Already a member? Sign in.

Americans now hear the noise of battle in Washington and the conflict is described as a debate over taxation and spending. Money is certainly on the line in the debate—trillions of dollars, in fact—but the Biden Administration and Democratic leaders in Congress are not really interested in money right now. The real goal is nothing less than a transformation of American society.

President Biden ran as a moderate Democrat, even as his party was lurching leftward. All the new energy in the Democratic Party is among the most liberal, who style themselves as “progressives.” Their preferred candidates for 2020 were Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. But the party’s establishment leadership panicked at the thought of Sanders or Warren at the top of the ticket, and the leadership orchestrated the departures of other contenders from the race, just before the crucial South Carolina primary. Biden was able to face Sanders directly, and the nomination was effectively his.

The Democratic Party’s 2020 dilemma was that it could not win without the activists pushing hard left, but it also could not win with them at the top of the ticket. Unless, of course, Biden could be packaged as a moderate and would govern as a leftist. That is exactly what is happening. Over the weekend, The New York Times reported the reality with these words in a major headline: “Biden throws in with Left.” Reporting on the debate among Democrats last week, a team of reporters explained that Biden had to choose sides between the moderate and progressive forces in his party. What did he do? “He effectively chose the left.” That’s the verdict of The New York Times, which really tells you something.

The media debate concentrates on the conflict between Democratic “moderates” who support a bi-partisan infrastructure bill totaling more than $1 trillion, versus the progressives who are pushing for social spending that will cost more than $3.5 trillion. But even those numbers conceal bigger bills. Bernie Sanders says $6 trillion is needed and we know that accounting tricks were necessary to get down to the $3.5 trillion proposal.

Make no mistake: The money is important. We are not paying our current obligations for entitlement programs and social spending. Every dollar the government spends in this way is a tax on future generations of Americans. We are robbing our own children. Christians understand the morality of debt, and Americans used to care about deficits and irresponsible borrowing by the government.

But President Biden now wants to be a transformational president, ranking with presidents like Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lyndon Baines Johnson. He wants to spend more than Barack Obama ever dreamed, and his reputation for moderation in the past is now a liability in a party pushing left, constantly and energetically. Roosevelt and Johnson were epic spenders, but Biden is determined to out-spend them both.

And yet, the politics is far less important than the cultural ambitions behind the proposals. The $3.5 trillion package offers child credits, even for the middle class, government child care and a vast expansion of federal spending for medical treatments. Community college tuition would be free and a host of policies tied to the Green New Deal and liberal activism would be enacted. The proposal’s details reveal a pay-off to just about every liberal interest group and movement.

The real threat of the proposal is moral. The goal of propelling more and more Americans into financial and personal success, of lifting families permanently out of poverty through work, is sacrificed for the goal of expanding the entitlement society. The legislation would push the United States into a more European model, with an ever-expanding welfare state taking up more and more of the society.

Furthermore, the entitlements are designed to bring millions of the middle class into the expectation of a government check and expanding government control. If the government writes the check, government control follows. That same middle class will end up eventually paying the tax bills, but by then more citizens will be hooked on those government checks. The architects of this legislation are counting on it.

The real ambition is to reshape and transform American society. The leftward push for this bill is tantamount to a rejection of the basic structure of our national culture and its economy.

It will also undermine work. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, perhaps the most important moderating influence in the Democratic Party, told NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday that the purpose of the $3.5 trillion package is to “change our entire society to an entitlement mentality.” He nailed it.

Christians are commanded by Christ to love God and to love our neighbors. Love of neighbor means working for a society in which human beings are liberated and encouraged to work, to strive, to marry, to participate fully as citizens, and to raise families in security and love. We have much work to do as we seek to build that society, but the “Build Back Better” bill is designed to make government increasingly the center of our society. The money at stake is important, but the morality at stake is far more important.

The debate this week in Washington is even more urgent than you thought.


R. Albert Mohler Jr.

Albert Mohler is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Boyce College and editor of WORLD Opinions. He is also president of the Evangelical Theological Society and host of The Briefing and Thinking in Public. He is the author of several books, including The Gathering Storm: Secularism, Culture, and the Church. He is the seminary’s Centennial Professor of Christian Thought and a minister, having served as pastor and staff minister of several Southern Baptist churches.

COMMENT BELOW

Please wait while we load the latest comments...

Comments

Please register, subscribe, or login to comment on this article.


Steve S

"Christians are commanded by Christ to love God and to love our neighbors. Love of neighbor means working for a society in which human beings are liberated and encouraged to work, to strive, to marry, to participate fully as citizens, and to raise families in security and love." --> seems like some 'sleight of hand' to try and take Biblical commandments and turn the bible into support for one political view. I'd say that love of neighbor has mercy as it's primary mandate. I'd also say that the idea of child care and community college being proposed is not clearly against the idea of encouraging people to participate fully as citizens, raise families in security and love, etc.
I would have found it more edifying to have a piece that explains why this definition of 'love your neighbor' is better than one that includes more health care for people that need it.

FIMIKI

Biden is a moderate, relative to other Democrats. Think $3.5 trillion is a lot? That's much less than his original campaign pledge of $11 trillion in new spending, which was much less than Warren's plan for $40 trillion, and Sander's vision of $97 trillion.

https://www.manhattan-institute.org/joe-biden-has-11-trillion-spending-plan-can-he-enact-it

The problem is that the rise of modern monetary theory has given license to progressives to push for ludicrously unrealistic spending, because they believe they can have their cake and eat it to. They don't believe they're robbing our children, because we can just print whatever we want and satiate ourselves with the largess. It may perhaps be the most dangerous economic theory since Marxism, since it promises that we can have all that we want and need without all the work we're accustomed to.

JMAN3581

One of the impediments to building back is the Clean Air Act of 1970, amended in 1990. This moved raw material mining and processing off shore. One might check who the presidents were that signed those bills. The democrat presidents have used this bill to stop fossil fuel energy production. The rust belt will continue to rust until we begin to manufacture. In the mean time China, Russia, and India, who are exempt from the international clean air agreements, will provide the work for their citizens. U.S. farmers will grow their food.