Dems’ Bill Would Add $200 Billion to Deficits: Watchdog

Dems’ Bill Would Add $200 Billion to Deficits: Watchdog

By Yuval Rosenberg and Michael Rainey
Tuesday, November 9, 2021

CBO to Congress: Full Score of Social Spending Bill Will Take Time

The Congressional Budget Office told lawmakers on Tuesday that they’ll have to wait to see the full analysis of the roughly $1.8 trillion Build Back Better bill.

In a brief statement, Director Phillip L. Swagel said that the CBO would release parts of its analysis as they become available, with some arriving as soon as this week, but the full analysis will take some time.

"The analysis of the bill’s many provisions is complicated, and CBO will provide a cost estimate for the entire bill as soon as practicable," Swagel said. "When we determine a release date for the cost estimate for the entire bill, we will provide advance notice."

A commitment to vote: Late last week, in a move that unlocked progressive support for the bipartisan infrastructure bill, a small number of moderate Democrats in the House pledged to vote for the Build Back Better bill if or when the CBO provides a score that backs up the White House claim that the cost of the legislation is fully offset by tax hikes and other revenue sources.

"We commit to voting for the Build Back Better Act, in its current form other than technical changes, as expeditiously as we receive fiscal information from the Congressional Budget Office – but in no event later than the week of November 15th," five centrists — Reps. Ed Case (HI), Josh Gottheimer (NJ), Stephanie Murphy (FL), Kurt Schrader (OR) and Kathleen Rice (NY) — said in a statement Friday.

The CBO statement Tuesday raises questions about whether Democrats will be able to stick to that schedule. House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth (D-KY) said last week that he expects the CBO score to take as long as two weeks, potentially pushing a House vote into the week of November 22 at the earliest.

Still, House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said Tuesday that she plans to stick to the current schedule. "That is our plan — to pass the bill the week of Nov. 15 as was indicated in our statements that were made at the time of passing the infrastructure bill," Pelosi said while attending the COP26 climate summit in Scotland.

Build Back Better Bill Would Add $200 Billion to Deficits: Watchdog

While lawmakers wait for an official Congressional Budget Office score of the House’s Build Back Better bill, an independent analysis released Monday by a budget watchdog group found that the legislation would add about $200 billion to federal deficits through 2031.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimated that the latest version of the reconciliation package includes about $2.4 trillion in spending and tax cuts and $2.2 trillion in offsetting revenue.

The White House and congressional Democrats have said that the cost of their bill would be offset — or more than fully covered. The CRFB estimates fall short of that goal largely because of the group’s projection for revenue generated by increased tax enforcement. CRFB estimates that the legislation will generate about $125 billion in net revenue through measures to beef up tax compliance, including an $80 billion, 10-year boost in IRS funding. That’s far less than the White House estimate of about $400 billion in net revenue.

CRFB also noted that extending temporary provisions in the bill could greatly increase the total cost of the legislation, adding $2 trillion to $2.5 trillion. "Whether these contribute to the debt depends on the existence or absence of future offsets," the group said.

The group also acknowledged that the actual deficit impact "is likely to be somewhat lower" than its $200 billion estimate, depending on the ultimate cost of immigration provisions and whether some of the budget authority provided winds up being spent in 2032 or later.

A pinch from SALT? The CRFB analysis finds that Democrats’ proposed temporary increase in the cap on state and local tax deductions would raise a little revenue in the near term, but likely lower revenue over the longer term.

Roll Call’s Lindsey McPherson explains:

"The group counts Democrats’ proposal to raise the current $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions to $80,000 through 2030, with a brief snapback to $10,000 in 2031, as both an expenditure and an offset. The provision would cost $285 billion through 2025, when the current $10,000 cap is set to expire, and raise $300 billion after that, resulting in a net $15 billion in revenue, according to CRFB’s numbers.

"That’s consistent with Democrats’ estimates that the SALT provision would raise $14 billion over 10 years, in a deliberate attempt to make the increased cap pay for itself over time. … But they note the cap increase ‘would substantially increase the cost of extending’ other individual provisions in the 2017 GOP tax law that are set to expire after 2025 ‘and thus is likely to result in lower revenue collections over time.’"

The bottom line: If the CBO’s official score does find a shortfall, the White House has reportedly committed to finding additional revenue to make up the difference and ensure that the offsets match the spending.

Conservatives Urge Punishment for 13 Republicans Who Backed Infrastructure Bill

Some conservatives are lashing out at the 13 House Republicans who last week helped Democrats pass the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, urging that those members of their own party be punished for advancing President Joe Biden’s agenda.

"The question for Leader McCarthy and the rest of our conference, really, is whether or not we will allow people to be designated as Republican leaders on major committees and subcommittees while they fight for the Joe Biden agenda and against the America First agenda," Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) said in an interview with Newsmax cited by Politico.

Gaetz’s comments come after right-wing Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) labeled the 13 Republicans as traitors and posted their phone numbers. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) told a Michigan radio station that he had gotten some "nasty" death threats after Greene’s post.

The infrastructure package, you’ll recall, is commonly called the bipartisan infrastructure framework. After being hashed out by a group of senators from both parties, it passed the Senate in a 69-30 August vote, with 19 Republicans joining all 50 Democrats in supporting it despite pressure from former President Donald Trump to oppose it. Trump, who had unsuccessfully pursued an infrastructure bill throughout his term in office, wanted to deny President Joe Biden and Democrats a victory.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), one of the 19 Senate Republicans who voted for the bill, on Monday called the legislation a "godsend" for his state.

Number of the Day: 432,565

More than 430,000 children under age 12 have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine, according to preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pfizer-BioNTech’s pediatric coronavirus vaccine received emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration on October 29 and the CDC recommended use of the vaccine a week ago. The CDC data show that more than 227,000 children younger than 12 years old have started getting vaccinated over the past two weeks. The CDC said that the data is subject to change and will be updated later this week.

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