by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President Joe Biden is struggling to find the votes to pass his ambitious, multitrillion-dollar climate change and welfare spending agenda, optimistically dubbed the “Build Back Better” plan. In an effort to get centrist Democrats in Congress on board, he has pared back the plan to “just” $2.4 trillion in spending (which is still nearly $17,000 per federal taxpayer). Or has he?
A new analysis from the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget finds that the real cost of Biden’s “pared back” plan could be more than double the $2.4 trillion advertised. The committee concludes that it could ultimately cost as much as $4.9 trillion, which is roughly $34,200 per federal taxpayer.
Why? Well, the Democrats have used budget gimmicks to get the official price tag down, listing many of the expenditures as “temporary” while openly stating their intentions to make them permanent later.
“They want to spend $2.4 trillion and buy with that almost $5 trillion worth of stuff,” CRFB Vice President Marc Goldwein said . “So the way they’re doing that is by making a number of the policies temporary.”
For example, the bill ostensibly authorizes an increase in the child tax credit for one year, which would cost $130 billion. Yet Democrats have openly stated that they want to make this permanent, and once people start getting checks, it is very, very rare for Congress to ever take them away. If the increase is ultimately made permanent, it would cost an additional $1 trillion!
This example perfectly shows how “temporary” authorizations allow the Biden administration to exploit budget gimmicks and artificially lower the price tag on the legislation.
The CRFB analysis also undercuts one of Biden’s other central claims about “Build Back Better”: that his spending plans won’t add to the national debt.