Kudlow: Some congressmen are pushing a junior version of Build Back Better

The COMPETES Act is a misnomer

Save America. Kill the bill. That has been our mantra and our crusade for many, many months and with the help of Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, our mantra has become reality. Build Back Better is dead. 

In fact, last week when Senator Manchin was asked if he was negotiating on Build Back Better, he gave four "no's" and a "dead," but you know what, Democrats and even some Senate Republicans, sad to say, are now pushing through a junior version of Build Back Better. It's called the "COMPETES Act"—a huge misnomer. 

It's now up to $350 billion and the House and Senate will conference to resolve the issue. This bill should be stopped.  


Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) speaks with reporters outside of the Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill on Jan. 20, 2022. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images / Getty Images)

It is nothing more than corporate welfare, picking winners and losers in American industry, providing special favors for unions and even public employees (who, by the way, already earn substantially higher salaries and benefits than average Americans). 

This $350 billion monstrosity would put $78 billion into the National Science Foundation, which presently has an $8 billion budget. Really?! How are you going to do that, pray tell? 

But wait, there's more. They're going to give a new $50 billion slush fund to the Energy Department for science purposes, cleverly couched as supply chain relief. 

Really?! Didn't we just give the Energy Department a handsome slush fund in the infrastructure bill. Wow, you know, when I grow up, I want to be in charge of the energy slush fund—gotta be the best job in town—plus, of course, the $50 billion direct subsidies for the semiconductor industry, even though the U.S. is still the leader in chip design and chip-making equipment. 

It would take years to build new foundries and anyway, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company is coming to Arizona to build a $12 billion plant and we don't need a bailout of Intel, which has fallen behind in recent years. 

The Commerce Department would get another $45 billion to finance so-called "critical goods." 

$8 billion to the U.N. Green Climate Fund. 


By the way, there's another $3 billion for solar manufacturing. Remember Solyndra? 

Incidentally, none of this $350 billion is paid for, either through tax hikes or other spending cuts. Not that I want to pay for any of it, because it's all super-bad policy. This is fiscal policy run riot. This is a miniaturized BBB and that is why I want to save America and kill this bill. 

I want to add that the trade section stuck in the bill would allow exclusions from the Trump tariffs that were so effective in strengthening America and China trade. 

Former U.S. trade Rep. Bob Lighthizer pounded on this when he was on the show last week. 

I'm sorry that 18 GOP senators voted for this monstrosity. Thankfully, Sen. Marsha Blackburn, did not. Bravo. No Republicans voted for it in the House, except Adam Kinzinger -- who's not really a Republican. 


U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a roundtable on the economy and tax reform at Nuss Trucking and Equipment on April 15, 2019 in Burnsville, Minnesota.  (Adam Bettcher/Getty Images / Getty Images)

The best way to promote American competitiveness with China or anybody else is to make the Trump tax cuts permanent and to stop Biden's regulatory and tax war against business and to maintain tough export controls and investor protections when it comes to putting money into Chinese companies, which is to say the Chinese military, which is to say all these companies are essentially instrumentalities of the Chinese Communist Party and we should enforce China trade deals. 

Spending another $350 billion while the Fed keeps creating new money is a recipe for less competitiveness and higher inflation. That's my riff. 

This article is adapted from Larry Kudlow's opening commentary on the February 7, 2022, edition of "Kudlow."