The Congressional Budget Office responded to the requests from several Republican senators by issuing a modified budget score on Friday for Joe Biden’s massive “Build Back Better” budget reconciliation spending bill. When considering the bill’s provisions as permanent spending programs, the bill is projected to add $2.8 trillion more than initially scored to the national debt over the next ten years.
The new scoring analyzes the bill by treating the programs as if they will be made permanent. Republicans have argued that it is the unstated intention of the Democrats to extend all of the programs in the bill permanently.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) claimed that Democrats use sunset clauses for parts of the bill to conceal their actual cost. He said that the clauses are a “budget gimmick” and will be “a death blow to our economy.”
At Friday’s White House press briefing, Press Secretary Jen Psaki was dismissive of Republican objects based on the amended score. She said that the new report is “not a CBO score” and called it a “fake CBO score.” She added that considering extensions of any programs is “not about the existing bill” being debated.
The initial scoring of the bill from the CBO indicated the bill would create $367 billion in new deficit spending over the next decade and projected deficit reductions due to enhanced tax collection power provided to the IRS.
The initial CBO score was touted as support for repeated claims by Biden and Democratic leadership that the spending bill would cost “exactly zero dollars.” Biden went so far as to claim that the spending bill would reduce the federal deficit by over $100 billion over the next decade.
The House passed a modified version of Biden’s spending bill on November 19. Since then, the bill has stalled out in the Senate, with moderate Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) publicly expressing reservations about the bill. They have said that the legislation could lead to runaway inflation and large deficits. The new CBO report certainly adds support to those concerns.