CBO says Democrat social spending bill to grow deficit by $367 billion, undercutting Biden claim

The CBO's cost estimate contradicts President Biden's claim that the legislation will cost "zero"

Updated: November 19, 2021 - 9:41am

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The Congressional Budget Office estimated on Thursday that President Biden's Build Back Better Act will increase the nation's deficit by $367 billion.

The CBO's cost estimate contradicts President Biden's claim that the legislation will cost "zero." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer also have said the bill would be fully paid for with tax hikes on corporations and wealthy Americans.

According to the CBO's estimate, "enacting this legislation would result in a net increase in the deficit totaling $367 billion over the 2022-2031 period, not counting any additional revenue that may be generated by additional funding for tax enforcement."

Biden and the Democrats' reconciliation bill includes additional funding to hire about 87,000 IRS agents to increase tax enforcement. In a report released on Thursday, the CBO projected that the additional support for the IRS, if enacted by Congress, would increase "outlays by $80 billion and revenues by $207 billion, thus decreasing the deficit by $127 billion, through 2031." 

The deficit for FY2021 was $2.8 trillion. In FY2020, the year the coronavirus pandemic hit, the deficit reached $3 trillion. In FY2019, it was $984 billion. The national debt is near $29 trillion.

Moderate Democrats had said they wanted to the CBO score before the final vote on the legislation. House Democratic leaders appear to be moving forward with a vote on the bill Thursday evening despite the CBO estimating the legislation will add to the deficit.

The business community reacted with alarm, accusing Biden of misleading the public. The head of a major small business lobby said the legislation was a job killer.

“This is not fully paid for like President Biden and Congressional Democrats kept hoodwinking the American public. C’mon man. Enough of this malarky!” Job Creators Network President Alfredo Ortiz said. “This Build Back Broke bill will crush our small businesses who are still suffering from Democrats' war on small businesses, a supply chain crisis, and a near-record labor shortage.”