President Joe Biden has consistently maintained that his signature multitrillion-dollar domestic spending bill, the Build Back Better Act (BBB), would cost ‘zero,’ a claim we already debunked

Biden has also contended that it would not add to the deficit, but actually, reduce it. He tweeted, “My Build Back Better Act is going to reduce the deficit by more than $100 billion over ten years.”

Furthermore, last month the White House’s National Economic Council director Brian Deese claimed that the BBB would “reduce the deficit by about $112 billion in this decade,” in an interview and that “In the second decade this bill would reduce the deficit by more than $2 trillion.” Quite a bold claim.

My Build Back Better Act is going to reduce the deficit by more than $100 billion over ten years.
President Joe Biden

False. Completely make believe.

President Biden and congressional Democrats’ claims about reducing the deficit have been debunked twice by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. In two separate scorings of the bill, the CBO found that deficits would soar, breaking President Biden’s promises.

The first CBO score released before the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass the bill, calculated that Biden’s multi-trillion dollar legislation would add $367 billion to the deficit over ten years. However, it is expected that amount would be cut nearly in half by increased revenue. This score is dependent on two major factors: enhanced IRS tax enforcement finding hundreds of billions of dollars stashed in Americans’ bank accounts and time-limiting many programs. 

Fiscal conservatives contend that the latter hides the true cost of the bill because the provisions are likely to be extended beyond their expiration date.

The latest CBO score released on Friday finds that the BBB would increase deficits by $231 billion over 10 years, after accounting for beefed-up tax enforcement and interest costs on the debt. This also assumes that different programs will be temporary or take time to begin. However, if the programs are permanent, BBB “would increase the deficit by $3.0 trillion over ten years starting in 2022.” 

In addition, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, the Senate Budget Committee’s ranking Republican, and his counterpart in the House, Missouri Rep. Jason Smith, who requested a revised cost estimate from the CBO that looks at the programs being permanent, did some math of their own. Using the CBO’s figures, they calculated that the BBB would actually cost $4.9 trillion.

Using creative math to artificially hold costs down 

The BBB is full of budgetary gimmicks that adjust the numbers to obtain a certain price tag. By sun setting or setting programs to expire within a short period of time, the left is able to hold costs down. They do some creative math and scheduling.

As the Wall Street Journal Editorial board explained:

Take the child allowance, which Democrats say will cost only $185 billion because it ends after one year. No one believes they won’t extend it next year, and the year after that, ad infinitum. CBO says the real cost over 10 years is $1.597 trillion. Democrats also peg their earned-income tax credit expansion at a cost of $13 billion because it too ends after one year. CBO says the real cost is $135 billion over 10 years.

An honest accounting of those two programs alone consumes $1.732 trillion, or nearly all of the $1.75 trillion that Sen. Joe Manchin has said it is the most total new spending he’ll support over 10 years.

But there’s so much more. Democrats phase out the child-care and pre-K entitlements after 2027 with a total cost of $381 billion. CBO says the real cost over 10 years is $752 billion if made permanent. They also underestimate the cost of expanded healthcare subsidies at $74 billion by phasing them out in 2025 or 2026. CBO says the real cost is $220 billion.

… The 18 programs that Mr. Swagel itemizes in a table with his letter contribute $3.477 trillion over 10 years to the total cost of the House bill—compared with the $889 billion that Democrats claim those same programs cost under their gimmicky rules.

The Left has a name for unfriendly data: “fake”

This stunning cost estimate has the BBB champion’s on the defense.

During a White House press briefing, Press Secretary Jen Psaki attacked it as “fake”: 

This is not a CBO score. This is a fake CBO score. It’s not about the existing bill anybody is debating or voting on. This is about proposing the extension of programs that has not been agreed to without the commitment of the president…”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released statements attacking the “fake CBO score.” Senator Schumer argued that “President Biden and Democrats have committed that any extensions of the Build Back Better Act in the future will be fully offset.”

Yet, as the Wall Street Journal contends, “fully paid for” this is “the lie of the year.”

Bottom Line

The Left’s claims that the BBB bill will cost zero, is false. The Left’s claims that this bill will reduce the deficit is false, no matter how you score it. 

Beyond the costs, we can’t lose sight of the big picture. Ending new entitlements is politically difficult and the programs that start out as temporary often become permanent federal line items.

Conservatives are right to worry that the liberals are not just using budget gimmicks to lower the cost of the multi-trillion spending bill on paper. They are hiding their attempt to backdoor massive entitlement expansions. They view the BBB as a once-in-a-generation chance to permanently expand the social safety net and they are going to take it.