Build Back Better Budget Gimmicks

Leading up to the Christmas break, the United States Senate finally shelved Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda. Democrats had hoped to pass the massive appropriation bill, which many agree would have transformed the American economy, for better or worse.

But an unlikely hero (or villain) emerged when a member of their own party blew up the vote. That man was West Virginia Senator, Joe Manchin.

So why was Senator Manchin so dead set against the Build Back Better agenda of his own party? In the wake of unprecedented, decades-high inflation, the Senator believed the bill wasn’t paid for as advertised and might only serve to make matters worse for Americans reeling from the effects of rampant government spending.

For Manchin, this was a plan rife with what appeared to be “budget gimmicks:”

As more of the real details outlined in the basic framework are released, what I see are shell games — budget gimmicks that make the real cost of the so-called $1.75 trillion bill estimated to be almost twice that amount if the full time is run out. If you extended it permanently. And that we haven’t even spoken about.

This is a common ploy in Washington, passing temporary programs only to extend or enact them indefinitely, as a means to hide the true financial impact of an agenda.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget agreed with the Senator’s assessment, as well. The Peter G. Peterson Foundation notes their analysis:

…indicates that the legislation is mostly paid for on paper; however, the package relies on budget timing gimmicks that could potentially hide the true cost of the proposed programs and create year-to-year uncertainty for millions of Americans affected by the legislation. 

While President Biden insisted that his plan is fully paid for, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) sang a different tune in their assessment of the bill.

Senator Lindsey Graham and Congressman Jason Smith asked the CBO for an analysis of Build Back Better if certain programs advertised as temporary were made permanent. They responded in a letter, which said:

The Congressional Budget Office and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation project that a version of the bill modified as you have specified would increase the deficit by $3.0 trillion over the 2022–2031 period…

The increase in the federal deficit over the same time frame if the programs were not extended was estimated to be roughly $200 billion-still not paid for, despite claims by the President.

In the time since the original CBO analysis of the Build Back Better program was released, leftwing pundits and politicians have feverishly worked to sell their agenda to the public. Their attempts to rally support for a bill that would remake the American economy, and likely add trillions of dollars to an already soaring deficit, failed.

In a twist of fate, bipartisanship reigned supreme in a bitterly divided Washington, and perhaps most shockingly of all, Congress narrowly agreed not to spend the people’s money…for now.


Image Credit: Photo by Gage Skidmore on Flickr Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

Grassroots Pulse covers public policy and political issues aimed at engaging highly-active policy makers, donors, and grassroots leaders at the forefront of the political process in America today.

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