Nov 18, 2021 - Politics & Policy

CBO finds social spending bill adds to deficit

Man in dark suit walks down steps steps at U.S. Capitol building.

Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

The Congressional Budget Office estimated Democrats' social spending bill would add no more than $367 billion to the deficit over 10 years, an assessment expected to pave the way for its passage by the House.

The latest: The White House said in a statement after the CBO report that it had updated its own estimates and now believed the package would actually reduce the deficit by $112 billion over a decade. 

Between the lines: The CBO's estimates in a summary released Thursday evening did not count revenue offsets from an IRS funding provision, which could reduce the deficit hit to $160 billion.

  • According to the CBO, $80 billion in funding for the IRS would raise $207 billion in tax revenue, thus cutting the deficit by $127 billion over 10 years.
  • That is at odds with a White House budget estimate that says the IRS funding would cut the deficit by $400 billion, which would make the bill fully paid for.

Why it matters: A handful of moderate House Democrats who have been holdouts on the bill struck a deal with progressives earlier this month to vote for the package if the CBO score is in line with expectations.

  • "If the score is what the White House and [Joint Committee on Taxation] had, we're good," Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) told Axios on Tuesday. "There's a little leeway, but it has to be pretty much what they said."

What they're saying: Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, contends that the CBO is severely lowballing the amount of revenue that package will raise from curbing tax avoidance.

  • Wyden, in a statement, said even the White House's estimate of $400 billion in deficit reduction is "if anything... too conservative, not too aggressive."

Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from the White House.

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