Biden tweeted, "My Build Back Better Agenda costs zero dollars. Instead of wasting money on tax breaks, loopholes, and tax evasion for big corporations and the wealthy, we can make a once-in-a-generation investment in working America."
This asinine notion immediately rocketed around the political sphere. White House press secretary Jen Psaki explained, "The reconciliation package will cost zero dollars." Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., said, "This is a zero-dollar bill because it's all going to be paid for with taxes on the wealthiest corporations and the wealthiest individuals, which makes it more popular than it even was before." Members of the media began repeating the line ad nauseum. The reason was obvious: Democrats are trying to cudgel Republicans into acquiescing.
Putting aside the contention that Biden's bill would be paid for through tax increases -- a doubtful proposition, given that the Democrats have been playing accounting games by extending particular allowances for just a handful of years, or backloading new costs until years down the road -- the baseline notion that government spending is zero-cost so long as it doesn't take on new debt is bonkers. It's the equivalent of arguing that so long as someone pays for a cocaine-fueled gambling binge in Vegas in cash, the experience has been cost-free.
Biden, however, goes even further. In his addled brain, allowing taxpayers to retain their own money is "wasting money"; spending trillions of dollars on social programs that pervert market incentives and often achieve the precise opposite of their stated intentions is an "investment." Such a designation divests language of meaning. If you steal my wallet and find $100 inside, proceed to inform me that giving me back $20 would be "wasting money," snidely notify me that you will be "investing" in a steak dinner for yourself and then cap your performance by stating that the dinner is "zero-cost," you would deserve a rather thorough thrashing. Do it in the context of national politics, however, and the media will cheer.