Cornyn Requests True BBB Estimate from CBO in Place of Democrats’ ‘Smoke-and-Mirror Accounting’


In: All News   Posted 11/22/2021
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U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) sent a letter today to the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Congressional Budget Office requesting a score for the Build Back Better Act over a full ten years of spending ahead of the Senate’s consideration of the legislation. He wrote: “While some public officials have said that the legislation will not increase the federal deficit by a single cent, I am concerned that the CBO score of H.R. 5376 is artificially low because of a number of timing gimmicks.  Specifically, the legislation includes a number of arbitrary sunsets and expirations of several expensive programs, which disguises the true cost of making these policies permanent.”

“At a time when government spending and debt continue to grow at an unsustainable rate, the American people deserve more than smoke-and-mirror accounting from Washington, D.C. They deserve a full and complete picture of the fiscal impact of H.R. 5376, which will dramatically expand and alter the federal budget for the foreseeable future.”

The full text of the letter can be found here and below.

 

November 22, 2021

 

Phillip L. Swagel, Director

Congressional Budget Office

Ford House Office Building, Fourth Floor Second and D Streets, SW

Washington, DC 20515-6925

 

Thomas A. Barthold, Chief of Staff

Joint Committee on Taxation

502 Ford House Office Building

Washington, DC  20515

 

Dear Director Swagel & Mr. Barthold,

Thank you for your nonpartisan work to produce budgetary and economic analyses of tax and spend legislation.  The Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation each play an important role in the legislative process.  Both agencies help ensure that Members of Congress and the American people are well informed about the fiscal impact of complex legislation, which can sometimes be over a thousand pages long and include temporary extensions and sunsets that can hide the true and full cost.  For this reason, I write to request both agencies provide a score of H.R. 5376, the partisan reconciliation bill passed by the House of Representatives on November 19, 2021, as if the temporary polices in the bill were instead permanent.    

While some public officials have said that the legislation will not increase the federal deficit by a single cent, I am concerned that the CBO score of H.R. 5376 is artificially low because of a number of timing gimmicks.  Specifically, the legislation includes a number of arbitrary sunsets and expirations of several expensive programs, which disguise the true cost of making these policies permanent.  For example, the legislation would extend by one year the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit, increasing outlays by $10.4 billion and decreasing revenues by $2.9 billion.  It also extends for one year the expansion of the Child Tax Credit, continuing a policy enacted into law just eight months ago in the American Rescue Plan Act, increasing outlays by $100 billion over the next two years and reducing revenues by another $30 billion over the next two years as well.  Private budget experts also believe making these policies permanent will increase the cost of the legislation.  For example, the Penn Wharton Budget Model found that if all of the temporary provisions in H.R. 5376 are made permanent, spending would total $4.6 trillion over the 10-year budget window, while the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates the true gross cost at approximately $5 trillion.

At a time when government spending and debt continue to grow at an unsustainable rate, the American people deserve more than smoke-and-mirror accounting from Washington, D.C.  They deserve a full and complete picture of the fiscal impact of H.R. 5376, which will dramatically expand and alter the federal budget for the foreseeable future.  I appreciate your attention to this request as the Senate prepares to consider H.R. 5376 in the near future.  Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you. 

Sincerely,

/s/