A Peek Inside 'Build Back Better' - Part 1 of 5

It's Alive!!!

Fresh on the heels of President Biden signing the ~$1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law last week, the US House has now passed the ~$2 trillion Build Back Better bill on to the Senate. This is a reminder that the US House of Representatives holds the power of the purse and, oh boy, does absolute power corrupt absolutely.

The House bill, also know as H.R. 5376, can be read in full here. It is currently 2,468 pages long. That’s just a bit of light reading on the beach.

So What’s in This Monstrous Bill?

Well, it’s hard to tell what’s in the bill because, you know, you’d have to read the damn thing to find out. And they don’t make it easy on you by giving you a table of contents. Is that by design, perhaps? Who knows.

So for you dear readers of Monetary Current, I will take one for the team (or a few) and browse through this monster to see what crazy things I can find. Because the bill is 2,468 pages long, I’m going to skim through it, not read it word for word. I do have some semblance of a life, you know. But, I’ll still have to split up this review into multiple parts. Originally, I thought I could get through a cursory review of the whole thing relatively quickly, but man is it a beast. So in the spirit of Douglas Adams, we’ll call this the Build Back Better Review: a trilogy of 5 parts.

This is Part 1.


The bill is organized into 13 sections, or “Titles.” In Part 1 of this review, I point out the interesting things I found in Titles I and II. Because I’m just skimming through, I will likely miss some important stuff. So if you get a hint of something interesting that I missed or something you’d like me to dive deeper into, please leave a comment or send me a message. Here we go.

TITLE I—AGRICULTURE

This title is about 50 pages long. Besides the whopping ~$50 billion appropriated for agricultural purposes, I didn’t really see anything all that interesting in this Title. Perhaps they purposely led with the least controversial stuff.

There’s language in there about funding projects for forest land, such as minimizing risk of wildfires, management of vegetation and water sources, environmental reviews, etc. There’s also money in there for “urban forest” development which is essentially planting trees in the city. Unfortunately, there’s also money in there to “upgrade” fuel pumps to be compatible with that nasty ethanol blend that destroys your engine. Generally, all the projects have a disposition of addressing climate change.

There is one interesting thing I identified: the development of a Civilian Climate Corps. The purpose of this group is to carry out the various projects established in this Title. I wonder if they’ll be assigned cute uniforms made of recycled garbage.

TITLE II—COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND LABOR

This Title is about 288 pages long and is focused on education, labor, and workforce development.

Subtitle A—Education Matters

This section is full of feel-good program titles like, “Rebuild America’s Schools Grant Program” and “Grants for Tuition-free Community College.” Well, that doesn’t sound so bad, right? I mean, who doesn’t like schools?

But, know that with funding comes strings-attached. A cursory look through this subtitle shows a deluge of money for boondoggle projects with qualifying criteria aimed at achieving some semblance of “climate resiliency,” “decarbonization,” “education equity,” “enrollment diversity” and other vague, feel-good concepts that typically create the opposite of the intended effect.

The roughly $50 billion federally allocated for education matters makes me wonder why I pay an arm and leg in local school taxes. To where does all the “cheese” go?

Funny side note: Back in the day, Pizza Hut hired Ween to do a song for a commercial debut of the new stuffed-crust pizza. Ween created the song, “Where’d the Cheese Go?” Pizza Hut then fired Ween. But, hey, in the end it was a win-win for all of us — stuff crusts and this song …

Subtitle B—Labor Matters

In subtitle B, I came across this interesting find:

$707,000,000 to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration [OSHA] for carrying out enforcement, standards development, whistleblower investigations, compliance assistance, funding for State plans, and related activities within the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Ya think that “enforcement” and “whistleblower investigations” are related to the vaccine mandate the Biden administration is pushing on American businesses? It is just vague enough to make you wonder.

On a related note, under SEC. 21004. ADJUSTMENT OF CIVIL PENALTIES, they are increasing the civil penalties tenfold for non-compliance with OSHA rules.

(a) OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ACT OF 1970.—Section 17 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (29 U.S.C. 666) is amended— (1) in subsection (a)— (A) by striking ‘‘$70,000’’ and inserting ‘‘$700,000’’; and (B) by striking ‘‘$5,000’’ and inserting ‘‘$50,000’’; (2) in subsection (b), by striking ‘‘$7,000’’ and inserting ‘‘$70,000’’; and (3) in subsection (d), by striking ‘‘$7,000’’ and inserting ‘‘$70,000’’.

But, there may be an unintended workaround. Under SEC. 21006. PENALTIES UNDER THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS ACT, we see the following:

(d) PROHIBITION.—It shall be unlawful for an employer … to permanently replace an employee who participates in a strike …

Well noted.

Subtitle C—Workforce Development Matters

This subtitle appears to essentially provide further funding for the existing Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which helps people get public-sector jobs and job training. Nothing too interesting stood out to me.

Subtitle D—Child Care and Universal Pre-Kindergarten

The government will control your kids from cradle to grave if you let them. This subtitle establishes a child care entitlement program and “free” pre-school for all.

… all preschool services in the State funded under this section will be— (i)(I) universally available to all children in the State without any additional eligibility requirements; and (II) be high quality, free, and inclusive …

The definition of an eligible child for the child care entitlement is

an individual (without regard to the immigration status of the individual or of any parent of the individual)

And the only requirement for eligibility of “free” pre-school is

a child who is age 3 or 4, on the date established by the applicable local educational agency for kindergarten entry.

Subtitle E—Child Nutrition and Related Programs

Under SEC. 24005. HEALTHY FOOD INCENTIVES DEMONSTRATION, $634,000,000 is made available to support

(1) serving healthy school meals … (2) increasing scratch cooking; (3) conducting experiential nutrition education activities, including school garden programs; (4) procuring local, regional, and culturally appropriate foods and foods produced by underserved or limited resource farmers … (5) reducing the availability of less healthy foods, as defined by the Secretary …

Does no one remember Michelle Obama’s $10 billion “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010?” It was supposed to serve healthy meals at school but, it ended up leaving school kids hungry and angry instead? They’ll try again, I guess.


Well that’s it for today, but that’s not all, folks. Tune in next time for Part 2. For a preview of what’s to come, the following Titles remain:

TITLE III—COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND COMMERCE
TITLE IV—COMMITTEE ON FINANCIAL SERVICES
TITLE V—COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY
TITLE VI—COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
TITLE VII—COMMITTEE ON 10 NATURAL RESOURCE
TITLE VIII—COMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND REFORM
TITLE IX—COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE, SPACE, AND TECHNOLOGY
TITLE X—COMMITTEE ON SMALL BUSINESS
TITLE XI—COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE
TITLE XII—COMMITTEE ON VETERANS AFFAIRS
TITLE XIII—COMMITTEE ON WAYS AND MEANS

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