The Democrats’ major social welfare and climate spending bill not only pays for itself but also the tax cuts passed by Republicans and signed into law by former President Donald Trump, the White House claimed on Monday.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki again pushed back against a “fake” Congressional Budget Office score that takes into account the possible extension of the social programs, saying President Joe Biden would want the expenditures paid for in some manner.
“What our focus is on is on the existing bill that will lower the deficit, that will also, over an additional 10 years, pay for the $2 trillion tax cuts that Republicans didn’t pay for,” Psaki told reporters at Monday’s briefing. “They’re welcome for that.”
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Senate Democrats are hoping to pass Biden’s $2.4 trillion Build Back Better bill by Christmas, but Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia remains a holdout based in part on the price tag and inflationary concerns.
Facing unified Republican opposition in a 50-50 Senate, Democrats need all of their senators to vote for the bill, plus Vice President Kamala Harris’s tiebreaking vote. Democrats are using the reconciliation process to pass the bill without subjecting it to a Republican filibuster, allowing it to pass on a party-line vote.
The initial CBO score cast doubt on the White House’s claim that the agenda is fully paid for, concluding it would add $367 billion to the deficit over the next decade. But an alternate score that doesn’t assume the social programs sunset projected it would add $3 trillion.
Republicans such as Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina note that many of the bill’s provisions are likely to be made permanent or extended beyond the sunset dates. The White House has countered that this isn’t faithful to the bill as currently written and that any extensions will need to be paid for in the future.
A key part of the White House’s claim that their bill is paid for is the fact that the spending increases are temporary while the tax increases are permanent. Psaki was asked whether this means Biden will not make the spending programs permanent.
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Psaki then pivoted to the cost of the 2017 tax cut that passed when Republicans controlled Congress and Trump was in the White House.
The Build Back Better bill is the partisan sequel to the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure legislation Biden has already signed into law.