Report: Build Back Better Is Actually Way More Expensive Than it Appears

President Joe Biden is grappling with Senate Democrats to get his “Build Back Better” bill across the finish line, but a new report shows it is actually more expensive than he has let on. In fact, it could cost roughly double.

The Committee for a Responsible Budget released an analysis of the plan saying it relies on accounting gimmicks to make the math work.

“We estimate the House Build Back Better Act includes roughly $2.4 trillion of spending and tax cuts along with roughly $2.2 trillion of offsets,” the group said. “However, the bill relies on a number of sunsets and expirations to keep the official cost down. If the plan’s temporary policies were made permanent, we find the cost would increase by as much as $2.5 trillion. As a result, the gross cost of the bill would more than double from $2.4 trillion to $4.9 trillion.

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The report goes on to point out “arbitrary sunsets” that make the plan appear cheaper. Democrats will certainly fight to have those sunsets extended.

“The Build Back Better Act relies on a number of arbitrary sunsets and expirations to lower the official cost of the bill,” the group said. “These include extending the American Rescue Plan’s Child Tax Credit (CTC) increase and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) expansion for a year, setting universal pre-K and child care subsidies to expire after six years, making the Affordable Care Act (ACA) expansions available through 2025, delaying the requirement that businesses amortize research and experimentation (R&E) costs until 2026, and setting several other provisions – from targeted tax credits to school lunch programs – to expire prematurely.”

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Many Democrats have said they are awaiting an estimate from the Congressional Budget Office on the plan, and this report suggests the CBO will not be entirely favorable.

“Excluding changes to the state and local tax (SALT) deduction, we estimate the Build Back Better Act would cost $2.1 trillion as written. We estimate making all of these temporary policies permanent would cost roughly $2.2 trillion, more than doubling the gross cost of the bill to $4.3 trillion through 2031.

“To be sure, lawmakers may choose not to extend some or all of these provisions. However, if they do, they would need to more than double current offsets in order for the bill and the extensions to be paid for,” the group said. “The alternative would be a substantial increase in the debt. As written, we estimate the Build Back Better Act would increase deficits by $800 billion over the first five years and a total of $200 billion through 2031 (it would reduce deficits by roughly $600 billion in the second five years).”

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