Vast Vote-Buying Strategy — ‘Like We Have Never Seen Before’ — Is Laid to Democrats by North Dakota’s Governor

Taxpayers are being put on the hook for billions of dollars in permanently higher benefits just as voters go to the polls.

AP/Matt Rourke, file
Governor Burgum at Laconia, New Hampshire, January 22, 2024. AP/Matt Rourke, file

Governor Burgum of North Dakota — a potential running mate with President Trump — is warning that, under the Biden administration, there is “vote-buying going on at a scale like we have never seen before.” Mr. Trump simplifies the charge to just “they get welfare to vote.” What’s the evidence behind those allegations? 

The case could start with funding increases for infrastructure projects. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette bluntly summarized the administration’s message to voters in the Keystone State by reporting that President Biden “offers 17 billion reasons for Pennsylvanians to support him this fall.” 

Specific projects include “green pork,” the Post-Gazette reports, like $98.5 million for “a statewide network of electric vehicle chargers,” and $143 million for a longtime Biden favorite, Amtrak, to run a second daily train between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. 

It’s no secret that the oldest president ever is struggling to connect with young people. That’s an openly and widelycited reason why Mr. Biden has repeatedly proposed canceling college student debt, with the cost to taxpayers now approaching a shocking $400 billion. Mr. Burgum says that “Citizens understand those are like pre-election payoffs. Those are like, hey, folks, please vote for us because we’re relieving your debt.” 

The same argument could apply to a Democrat-crafted proposal to expand the child tax credit, which now appears terminally blocked by Republicans in the Senate. If enacted, that would have resulted in millions of expanded benefit checks sent by the IRS in an election year. Not exactly subtle on the message or timing.  

For sheer scheduling chutzpah, it would be hard to top the latest Biden administration plan to expand welfare checks. Under a pair of recently-announced regulations, starting in October the administration will expand Supplemental Security Income, a  federal benefit program for low-income children, adults, and seniors. SSI is already one of the nation’s largest cash welfare programs, providing $60 billion in annual benefits to 7.5 million disabled and elderly individuals.

Under the changes, monthly SSI checks will permanently increase and “more individuals will be eligible for SSI payments,” the regulation flatly states. That’s putting it mildly. According to a nonpartisan Government Accountability Office analysis, the changes will increase SSI payments by a total of $15 billion over the next 10 years. GAO adds that eventually 277,000 SSI recipients will receive increased payments, while another 109,000 individuals will be added to the benefit rolls.

For liberals struggling to bypass a divided Congress and spread the wealth to more nonworkers, that’s a notable achievement — especially when expanded welfare checks start arriving just five weeks before election day. Since the benefit increases result from federal fiat, there are no offsetting spending cuts, meaning the significant costs are simply added to the ever-growing federal debt. 

The administration defensively assures us it can dispense the increased largesse without Congress, since doing so is “a proper exercise” of its “rulemaking authority.” The policy justification is tellingly familiar — to “promote equity” by dispensing more and bigger welfare checks.

Such flagrant examples of spending influencing politics might sound familiar to political observers of a certain age. A generation ago, Christine Todd Whitman’s 1993 campaign for governor of New Jersey was rocked when campaign manager Ed Rollins boasted of providing $500,000 in “walking around money” to influence New Jersey voters going to the polls. Mr. Rollins later retracted his claim and, even if it occurred, $500,000 probably didn’t sway many votes in the Garden State.

Now three decades later, leading Republicans suggest taxpayers nationwide are the ones being taken on a far grander scale by Biden administration efforts to purchase voters’ support. We can’t know whether everyone poised to collect new or expanded benefits will display their gratitude at the polls, as Mr. Trump seems to think. 

We do know, though, that the Biden administration has put taxpayers on the hook for billions of dollars in permanently higher benefits just as voters go to the polls. That makes Mr. Rollins’ alleged “walking around money” look like pocket change — which this time will be dispensed far beyond New Jersey’s borders.

The New York Sun

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