Build Back Better could add $3 trillion to the deficit by 2031    

by mcardinal

Matt Bush, FISM News


The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a new analysis estimating that President Biden’s Build Back Better (BBB) plan could increase the federal deficit by $3 trillion between 2022 and 2031 if some of the proposed programs were made permanent. 

According to CNBC, the House Bill in its current form as passed by the House right before Thanksgiving “includes child-care subsidies, a one-year extension of the enhanced child tax credit and universal pre-K. It would expand Medicare to cover hearing aids and boost options for low-income Americans to buy insurance through Medicaid. The plan would also put roughly $550 billion into programs designed to curb climate change.”

When the initial analysis was done on H.R. 5376, the House version of BBB, the CBO estimated that the bill would add just $0.2 trillion to the deficit in the next decade. This price tag made it easier for moderate democrats, specifically Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, to support the bill.

So what is the difference between the two analyses given by the CBO? Many of the initiatives in the bill will “sunset” or end after a specified time. The biggest example of this is that the child tax credit will “sunset” at the end of 2022. Oftentimes, however, lawmakers put these expiration dates into the bill so that the CBO will score the bill at a much lower cost, and they fully expect to pass multiyear expansions down the line. As far as the child tax credit goes, Democrats have made it clear that they plan to make this permanent as soon as possible.

According to a letter sent to Congress from the CBO, the second report was requested to include “modifications that would make various policies permanent rather than temporary.” The biggest difference between the $0.2 trillion estimate and the $3 trillion estimate “stems from an increase in the child tax credit that ends after 2022 in the House-passed version of the bill.”

According to CNN, the latest CBO score is “a Republican-led effort to show that the bill costs more than Democrats say it does, but Democrats are arguing that many provisions in their proposal sunset and therefore the true cost is not what Republicans say it is. President Joe Biden has also said publicly that if any of the programs in Build Back Better were extended, they would be paid for in those subsequent years.” 

Republicans, on the other hand, have stood strong against the BBB plan as there were no House Republicans who voted for it and there is no Republican support in the Senate. As such, President Biden must have 100% buy-in by Senate Democrats, and Sen. Manchin is clearly on the fence.

According to Fox Business Manchin said, “As more of the real details outlined in the basic framework are released, what I see are shell games and budget gimmicks that make the real cost of this so-called ‘$1.75 trillion’ bill estimated to be twice as high if the programs are extended or made permanent. That is a recipe for economic crisis.”

It seems President Biden’s assurance that the “Build Back Better agenda costs zero dollars…it adds zero dollars to the national debt” is in accurate at best.

Expect a lot of changes in the Bill prior to a Senate vote, and if the vote is passed in the Senate, the new bill will have to pass back through the House where Democrats have room for only three defections. Whatever happens, it will be close, and that is not a good sign for a party that controls the Congress and the Presidency.