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Cassidy compounds mistake with spending bill

Thus begins Louisiana Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy’s Build Back Better campaign to reestablish trust with a majority of Louisiana voters – with a swing and a miss.

Just over a month after starting his second term, Cassidy angered a large swath of state residents when he voted to convict GOP former Pres. Donald Trump on specious, if not entirely bogus, alleged misdeeds. Those decisions displayed exceptionally poor judgment and utter lack of principle that, if anything, have aged more and more poorly as more comes out about unrest at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

However, he has six years to repair the damage, and he attempted a first step by approving, along with 16 other Republicans, yet another spending bill on top of those late in the Trump Administration and early in the Democrat Pres. Joe Biden Administration. The vote technically only advances the bill for debate, but Cassidy signaled he clearly favors the bill in its present form, which could see significant changes.

The bill envisions one-time spending in the $1.1 trillion range, half of which would fund items previously forwarded and half new. Republicans demanded that no new taxation occur to pay it off.

That’s where the deal at present begins to fall apart. $20 billion worth is assumed to come from future cellular spectrum auctions, which may be realized. Certain to be unrealized, however, is a claimed $56 billion in economic growth from the “investments,” a sheer fantasy pulled from the air (assuming an absurd 33 percent return on investment). It also assumes $28 billion in tighter enforcement of cryptocurrency taxation and, contrary to the spirit of GOP desires, includes extending and reinstating fees worth $40 billion. Ironically, it includes $53 billion from states ending enhanced unemployment benefits early, a move resisted by Biden and Democrats but which they couldn’t stop, and as a final gimmick also includes $6 billion from selling Strategic Petroleum Reserve oil.

Thus, $150 billion of the total comes from questionable payment sources, of which a large portion likely never will be realized. That phoniness should trigger bill rejection off the bat.

It gets worse. Just over $76 billion in proposed spending largely goes to subsidizing operating and fixed coats of passenger rail mostly in eastern blue states. As wasteful as that is, some could find its way into present boondoggles such as California’s and potentially a future one if certain liberals and rent-seekers have their way in Louisiana.

Another $32 billion transportation sop to mostly blue states and big cities almost exclusively controlled by Democrats comes in the form of public transit spending. That’s a matter best left to states or the local governments themselves that benefit from this to finance, not relying on the American people of which the large majority never will use any of these services.

Then there’s the tens of billions spent on subsidizing renewable energy. $15 billion goes directly to low-emission vehicles and establishing a vehicle charging infrastructure, and many little bits in research grants, tax credits, and subsidies are squirreled away in the conceptual bill, with a good chunk of $73 billion devoted to infrastructure going towards addressing power grid instability inherent to use of renewable energy and other issues. Government has no need to practice such crony capitalism in juicing this industry; market incentives should determine research and spending in this area.

Louisiana directly benefits in some places, as Cassidy pointed out, but there’s just way too much pork and waste to justify the bill in its conceptual form. Cassidy may hope bringing home the bacon makes enough voters forget his impeachment trial missteps, but that lard doesn’t justify supporting a bill where almost half of its amount involves unwise spending and over a quarter of its financing gimmicked and illusory. That only reinforces the perception that Cassidy possesses poor judgment and the state needs an upgrade from him.

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