While Nancy Pelosi hopes to pass the so-called “Build Back Better” bill tonight in the House, some bad news came down the line from the CBO.
Previous commitments were made by some “moderate” Democrats to vote for the bill only if the budget score came back deficit-neutral. But the preliminary numbers are out, and it looks like the CBO has completely debunked the White House’s “it costs zero dollars” talking point.
At first, Democrats were cheering on social media after seeing the following post from the CBO.
CBO estimates that the funding for tax enforcement activities provided by H.R. 5376, the Build Back Better Act, would increase outlays by $80 billion and revenues by $207 billion, thus decreasing the deficit by $127 billion, through 2031. https://t.co/GrbShPusVK
— U.S. CBO (@USCBO) November 18, 2021
That excitement came from a misreading of how the CBO is scoring this bill. Instead of giving one, succinct number, the CBO is taking it piece by piece. That was set up purposely by Democrats in hopes of muddying the waters.
What the CBO is actually announcing there is that the new tax enforcement provisions would supposedly produce a deficit savings of $207B. I would certainly hope that such enforcement wouldn’t cost more than it brings in (because if it did, that would make no sense at all), but that was not a score on the actual spending portions of the bill.
Here’s what that looks like laid out on an easy-to-read chart.
🚨BREAKING 🚨- CBO scores show Build Back Better would add $159 billion to the deficit, as written.
(interactions may change this modestly)
— Marc Goldwein – GET VAXXED! (@MarcGoldwein) November 18, 2021
That deficit gap is apparently driven by the fact that the Biden administration way overestimated how much money their tax-enforcement mechanisms would bring in. As in, they overestimated new revenue by around 50%, and you can consider me skeptical that the CBO’s lower score is even legitimate given how many false promises we’ve been sold about “eliminating waste and fraud” with past spending bills
On that topic, if you want an idea of how little I trust the CBO, see one of my first articles on RedState where I took apart their gamesmanship on Obamacare.
CBO says IRS enforcement yields $207B, less than $400B from White House
— Erik Wasson (@elwasson) November 18, 2021
Keep in mind, that $159 billion added to the deficit is after including in the increased revenue from new tax enforcement, and again, you should be highly skeptical that the government will magically find $207 billion after dumping more money into the IRS.
In other words, the Biden administration, Nancy Pelosi, and every other Democrat who ran out to claim this bill “costs zero dollars” lied. They were either being malicious or speaking out of total ignorance, not having the proper data to even make such a statement. This bill does not cost zero dollars. It adds to the deficit, and past the already high number, it could add even more to the deficit if the CBO’s pie in the sky estimation of new tax revenue doesn’t materialize.
BREAKING: The Congressional Budget Office projects “Build Back Broke” adds hundreds of billions to the deficit over a decade.
Biden promised it wouldn’t add a “single penny.”https://t.co/A4paAEk0gR
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) November 18, 2021
This sure feels like “lie of the year” material. Biden and his cohorts have been repeating this falsehood for months, snarking at reporters and trashing anyone who would dare to suggest that massive new social programs aren’t free. But those of us who insisted the sky was indeed blue were right in the end.
So where do the Democrats go from here? I’m guessing some tweaks are coming (likely to the SALT provisions) to fudge the numbers a bit more, but with Joe Manchin recently signaling he’s getting cold feet over inflation concerns, my money is on this not getting done before Christmas.