House Democrats passed a version of President Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan Friday, but budget experts argue it needs a lot of work.
The Committee for a Responsible Budget responded to the official Congressional Budget Office score this week, saying the bill falls far short of Democrats’ pledge to not add to the deficit.
“Lawmakers have repeatedly pledged that Build Back Better would not add to the deficit, and they should stick to that praiseworthy pledge. In light of what CBO says, this means they need to find another $160 billion in offsets or reductions to the size of the bill. They should also drop the arbitrary sunsets and gimmicky SALT-related offsets. At an absolute minimum, they should make a credible commitment not to extend any parts of the bill without paying for them as well.
The group points to the major deficit created by the legislation, which would add billions to the national debt.
“CBO’s ten-year $160 billion deficit estimate is driven in part by its finding that new IRS funding will raise less revenue than the Treasury Department thinks,” the group said. “Improving funding for the IRS is one of the best ways to raise revenue. This policy will generate substantial revenue without raising taxes, and there are honest disagreements over the magnitude of that effect. But you don’t get to choose your own referee just because you don’t like a call, and Members of Congress should rely on rigorous and unbiased estimates from CBO. They could boost tax compliance revenue by supplementing IRS funding with new reporting requirements.”
The group also points out that the bill can only get its cost down by saying that many measures of the plan will only last a few years. Democrats, though, will likely try to extend those spending measures down the road.
“More troubling than the ten-year deficit increase is the use of expirations and arbitrary sunsets to reduce reported costs,” the group said. “As written, the legislation would add about $750 billion to the deficit over five years due to its front-loaded nature, and this would create immense pressure for future extensions.”