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Build Back Better, the centerpiece of President Biden’s ambitious domestic legislative agenda, has become Build Back Later…maybe.

What was to have been the administration’s history-making signature accomplishment — a $1.75 trillion expansion of existing social welfare programs and the creation of new entitlements — now lies in ruins and the odds of its resurrection are beyond bleak.

What was to have provided a record of achievement for Democratic congressional candidates to campaign on this year has instead highlighted the internal fissures in the party while adding greatly to their fears of a Republican sweep and seizing control of Congress.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer’s confident prediction that the program would reach the president’s desk in September was wishful thinking rather than achievable reality as his self-imposed deadline was postponed time after time.

The warning signs were clear and persistent, yet seemingly ignored by Schumer and the White House.

For months, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Arizona Sen. Krysten Sinema were steadfast in their opposition, citing the adverse impact of massive additional government spending at a time of unprecedented debt and a perilous upsurge in inflationary pressures.

In an evenly divided Senate, both held make or break leverage, eventually invoked by Manchin’s televised announcement he intended to vote against the bill.

There appears to be growing sentiment for separating the major components and bringing each to the floor to stand or fail on their individual merits — a tacit admission that stuffing dozens of programs into one massive bill and cooking the books to maintain the fiction of cost-consciousness was a strategic blunder.

It was a case of kitchen sink legislating, throwing program after program into the proposal and believing support for some would be sufficient to overcome misgivings about others.

The White House messaging was flawed as well, particularly the glaringly absurd insistence that the bill would cost “zero dollars,” that it would be fully paid for raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations.

It was the level of simplistic thinking usually found in a contest for the presidency of the sixth grade class in elementary school.

Taxpayers instinctively understood that the no-cost rationale was patently silly, that raising corporate taxes would result in the cost being passed on to the consumers in the form of higher prices for goods and services.

There existed a level of hubris as well on the part of congressional leadership and the White House, a belief that a new president would enjoy a period of unfettered support, that his agenda would be automatically accepted.

Falling under the spell of political hubris too often skews its victims’ perspective and the jolt back to reality can be painful, indeed.

Carl Golden’s column is distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

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