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Thomas Gallatin / December 13, 2021

CBO: $3T Deficit for Bilk Back Better

Republicans get the CBO to expose Democrat accounting gimmicks in Biden’s socialist boondoggle.

Ronald Reagan loved borrowing a famous quip from economist Milton Friedman: “Nothing is more permanent than a ‘temporary’ government program.” Clearly, Republican senators haven’t forgotten this lesson, and they’re playing it smart in their efforts to prevent Joe Biden and the Democrats from saddling America with a massive socialist boondoggle.

The Congressional Budget Office just released its latest (and more realistic) report on Biden’s supposedly $1.75 trillion Build Back Better bill. Republicans had specifically requested that the CBO review the cost of BBB if programs supposedly delineated for sunset were in fact (as Democrats intend) continued indefinitely.

After factoring in the Republicans’ request to remove all the Democrats’ timeline gimmicks, the CBO concluded that BBB would add nearly $3 trillion to the national debt over a decade — nearly 10 times the $367 billion that the CBO initially calculated.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who called for the CBO review, blasted Democrats with the new number. “They put a sunset on the program[s] to lower the cost. It’s a budget gimmick,” he said. “It’s going to be a death blow to our economy.”

Last month, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), another of the Republicans asking for a CBO review, likewise stated the obvious: “I am concerned that the CBO score of [BBB] is artificially low because of a number of timing gimmicks. Specifically, the legislation includes a number of arbitrary sunsets and expirations of several expensive programs, which disguise the true cost of making these policies permanent.”

The biggest example of this gimmick at play is the expanded child tax credit, which, according to the BBB legislation, would sunset after just one year. In reality, everyone knows Democrats clearly intend for this expansion to become a permanent fixture. So, instead of costing “just” $185 billion, the true expense would be (at least) $1.597 trillion over 10 years.

“The last thing I’m going to do is add more burdens to working families in South Carolina,” Graham said, laying into the Democrats further. “And here’s my message to the Democratic Party: Quit lying about this bill. They should revote it in the House. We need to stop Build Back Better before it destroys this country.” He then challenged his Democrat colleagues: “There is not a plan to pay for it. If there is, I missed it, so give it to me. Give it to the American people before we vote in the Senate. Show me how you pay for this bill.”

Remember, Joe Biden insisted it was so fully paid for that it would really cost “zero dollars.” And his mouthpiece, Jen Psaki, objected to this new, more accurate CBO score, saying, “What we’re talking about here is a fake CBO score that is not based on the actual bill that anybody is voting on.” It’s not being voted on only because Democrats put forward a fake bill to disguise the cost.

At least one Democrat senator continues to be a stick in the mud over the cost of BBB — West Virginia’s Joe Manchin. He again called out the Democrats’ smoke and mirrors: “One goes for three years, one goes for one year … one might go for the full 10 years. Do they not intend for those programs to last the full 10 years? Well, if you don’t intend for that to happen, what’s the real cost? Because we’re either going to debt-finance it if we’re not going to pay for it or come back and change the tax code again.”

Indeed, this latest CBO report vindicates Manchin’s reluctance to accept his colleagues’ absurd claims, primarily because yet another massive spending bill will only make rampant inflation even worse. The new score may also serve to pull Democrats like Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly to Manchin’s side. At a minimum, this latest CBO report effectively keeps Biden and the Democrats on the defensive over the cost of BBB.

(Updated)

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