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GOP group spends $4 million to falsely claim Build Back Better will fuel inflation

Top economists say Build Back Better would actually help curb inflation in the long term.

By Josh Israel - December 10, 2021
Gas prices

A GOP-linked dark money group has launched a deceptive new ad campaign against President Joe Biden’s $1.75 trillion Build Back Better package. They are spending about $4.3 million to falsely claim that investments in climate change and caregiving infrastructure will fuel massive inflation.

The tax-exempt nonprofit One Nation is running 30-second spots targeting vulnerable Democratic senators in Arizona, Nevada, and New Hampshire, urging them to oppose Biden’s plan, which would invest billions in child care, health care, home care, clean energy, and affordable housing.

The nearly identical ads feature clips and headlines from news reports about the recent inflation in the United States economy — which economic experts say has little to do with Biden’s economic policies — and suggesting passage of the Build Back Better plan will make it much worse.

In one clip, conservative Fox contributor Brian Brenberg predicts the plan would be an “inflation acceleration bill.” In another, an unidentified person asserts that unnamed “experts fear this is just the beginning.”

A narrator then urges viewers to call Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH), or Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ), and to tell them, “Inflation is killing us. Stop the reckless spending,” while a caption on the screen says, “Oppose the House Reconciliation Bill.”

One Nation is an offshoot of Karl Rove’s American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS efforts, which took advantage of the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling to spend tens of millions on pro-GOP “independent” advertisements. It has close ties to the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC that has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on ads backing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his GOP conference.

But while One Nation is parroting the GOP talking point that the Build Back Better plan would spur more inflation, the opposite is likely true.

White House Council of Economic Advisers members have long argued that Biden’s proposed investments would be “an antidote for inflationary pressure.” By investing in things that will boost economic capacity and paying for the investments with additional revenue and spending cuts, they argue, the plan “should be expected to have little, if any, effect on inflationary pressures in the short-term and to ease them over the long term.”

Nobel Prize-winning economists and financial ratings agencies concur.

“Because this agenda invests in long-term economic capacity and will enhance the ability of more Americans to participate productively in the economy, it will ease longer-term inflationary pressures,” Columbia University professor Joseph Stiglitz told the Washington Post on Nov. 4.

Finch Ratings senior director Charles Seville told Reuters on Nov. 17 that Build Back Better and Biden’s recently-passed bipartisan infrastructure package “will neither boost nor quell inflation much in the short-run” but may increase the labor supply and productivity in the longer term.

Even former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers — who congressional Republicans have lionized as a prescient expert on inflation and government spending — predicted last month that because its “spending is offset by revenue increases and because it includes measures such as child care that will increase the economy’s capacity, Build Back Better will have only a negligible impact on inflation.”

On Friday, the pro-Build Back Better group Building Back Together noted that “experts are predicting that inflationary pressures will ease heading into 2022,” quoting a prognostication from J.P. Morgan’s Outlook 2022 that said, “We expect goods price inflation to prove transitory.”

The House passed its version of the bill on Nov. 19, despite unanimous GOP opposition. Senate Democrats hope to deliver the package before Christmas.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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