GOP picks fight with 'imaginary bill' in attempt to block Biden's agenda

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Republicans are seizing on a hypothetical budget estimate to argue that Build Back Better would cost more than it actually does.

Congressional Republicans are warning that President Joe Biden's $1.75 trillion Build Back Better plan could cost a lot more — if it were to contain a lot of provisions that it does not contain.

Rather than explain their opposition to what's in the popular climate and caregiving infrastructure package, they are instead attacking a nonexistent proposal to spend trillions of dollars more.

On Friday, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation released an estimate of what it called "a modified version of H.R. 5376, the Build Back Better Act, that would make various policies permanent rather than temporary."

The budget office took provisions of the actual bill, such as the child tax credit and Medicaid expansion, and assessed how much more it would cost if each were to be extended for all time. Doing so would make the 10-year $1.75 trillion plan into a $4.9 trillion bill and would require additional revenue or deficit spending, the budget office found.

GOP lawmakers seized on the CBO's theoretical projections to falsely assert that the numbers reflected the real price of the Build Back Better spending package.

"The true cost of the bill has more than doubled and the effect on the deficit is eightfold," argued Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who sits on the Senate Budget Committee.

"Today's CBO score exposes the budget gimmicks Democrats have been using to hide the true cost of their tax & spending plan," wrote Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO), the top Republican on the House Budget Committee. "CBO has confirmed their bill spends $4.9 trillion and adds $3 trillion to the debt – trillions more than Democrats claimed."

"The Congressional Budget Office found that the actual cost of Biden's spending bill is $3 TRILLION in new deficit spending," claimed Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR).

"On the same day news broke that inflation has hit a nearly 40-year high, the CBO announces the true cost of the #BuildBackBroke agenda," said Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL). "$3 TRILLION. Americans can't afford Washington's spending problems."

In a press release, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) mocked Graham and his GOP colleagues for hyping the "CBO score of an imaginary bill."

"Congress and President Biden have made clear: any future extensions of the life-changing provisions of Build Back Better will be fully paid for, as they are today," Pelosi said in a statement.

Graham and Smith requested the analysis last month, demanding that it be completed before the House voted on the package, but Democrats passed the package nonetheless. The bill now waits for a vote in the Senate.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.