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WASHINGTON — Anxious to find a win for President Joe Biden, congressional Democrats will likely pass a trillion-dollar plus domestic spending plan that would not be good for Americans, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney says.
Democrats, Romney said, see that the president and they themselves are in trouble politically and are feeling a lot of pressure to get something accomplished.
Appearing on Fox News' "Special Report with Bret Baier," the first-term Republican said the Democrats are "pretty desperate."
"They want to get something done for the president because he's kind of circling the drain with the electorate and the country, and as a result they're willing to do almost anything, I think," Romney said.
"So I think you're going to see legislation passed, but the real problem is the legislation is not popular with the American people, and it doesn't address the concerns people have. They're concerned about inflation, they're concerned about empty shelves, and this legislation makes things worse, not better."
National polls show Biden's approval rating slipped in recent months, and has not recovered. A new Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll found 65% of Utahns disapprove of his job performance, while only 32% approve.
Democrats are making some tough choices as they pare Biden's social safety net expansion package from $3.5 trillion to between $1.5 trillion and $2 trillion to satisfy centrist Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, and Kyrsten Sinema, of Arizona. Some of the president's campaign promises, including free community college and clean electricity standards with penalties for noncompliance, are being jettisoned.
Other programs that were initially set to be permanent, such as expanded child tax credits and expanded Medicaid, would expire after a year or two.
The White House and top Democrats hope to reach a deal with the two holdouts before Biden leaves this week for a climate conference in Scotland.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she would bring the Senate-passed trillion-dollar infrastructure bill, another key part of the president's "Build Back Better" agenda, to a vote if there is agreement on the social spending plan. Romney helped negotiate the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
On Fox News, Romney criticized a Democratic proposal to place a tax on unrealized capital gains of billionaires to help pay for the spending package. He said that tells the Steve Jobs and Bill Gates of the world that the U.S. isn't the place to start a business. Also, billionaires won't invest in the stock market because as it goes up, they would be taxed.
"That kind of distortion of our economic system is a bad idea for the entire country because frankly, we depend upon people of means to invest in enterprises, to invest in the stock market. That's one of the reasons the stock market keeps going up, which is good for all of us. The idea that somehow there's somebody out there that's going to give us stuff for free — it's just not going to work," Romney said.
Democrats, he said, are looking to spend money in wrong ways that would add to inflation. Rather than deal with the emergence of China as a global competitor, they want to provide two years of free pre-kindergarten.
"This is not the answer to the problems America faces right now. So it's raising taxes at a time we shouldn't, and it's also encouraging more inflation, and it's not addressing the real problems our country faces and that the American people are concerned about," he said.
Romney said it's hard to predict what inflation will do in the future, but it's happening now with the price of food and gas.
The Biden administration passed a $1.9 trillion bill in January, and now are asking for trillions more, he said.
"I hope you understand how much a trillion is. A million seconds ago, it was early October. A billion seconds ago, George Herbert Walker Bush was president. A trillion seconds ago, Neanderthals walked the earth," Romney said. "So a trillion is an enormous amount of money, and the Democrats, are adding fuel to a fire, creating more inflation, and it's hurting the American people."