Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Senate Democrats plan to offset some of their “soft” infrastructure spending by using dynamic scoring — a budgetary practice many of them called a gimmick just a few years ago.

Why it matters: The total size of the Democrat-only reconciliation bill will depend in large part on how much of it can be offset with new revenues. Using budgetary smoke and mirrors shows how hard Democrats are working to pass a big bill.

  • Negotiators can get some breathing room by relying on traditional deficit spending.
  • They also can use dynamic scoring, a term of art for assuming that new programs will be so beneficial for the economy, they'll produce future tax windfalls.

What they are saying: “Dynamic scoring has been used before,” Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), told Axios, referencing the 2017 Trump tax cuts. “So, sure, I mean there's going to be some dynamic (scoring).”

  • Dynamic scoring is “both a mixed blessing and an unknown factor,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.). “The extent to which it can be abused is significant. The extent to which it's also useful and accurate is also significant.”
  • "It's a brave new world."

The big picture: Republicans have long used dynamic scoring to make the total cost of tax cuts appear smaller.

  • Now, Democrats are arguing billions of new dollars for programs like universal preschool and free community college will cause productivity gains that, in turn, spur economic growth.
  • The $579 billion bipartisan infrastructure package that would accompany the reconciliation bill also includes approximately $60 billion in new dynamic scoring savings.
  • It assumes "hard" infrastructure like new roads and bridges will benefit the entire economy.

Flashback: In 2015, House Republicans required the Congressional Budget Office to score proposals by factoring in their overall macroeconomic effect.

  • Democrats, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), then the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, howled.
  • “The Republicans have hatched a plan to force the CBO to cook the books and paint a rosy picture of the benefits of trickle-down economics," Sanders said.
  • “They call it ‘dynamic scoring,’" he added. “In fact, it’s a gimmick to help justify more tax cuts for the wealthy and profitable corporations.”

Between the lines: Some conservative economists welcome the Democrats' newfound religion.

  • They argue budget experts can — and should — factor in the productivity gains from more education or better health care on the overall economy.
  • Some also caution against estimating precise dollar figures.
  • “They are never as big as the proponents think they are going to be,” said Doug Holz-Eakin, who was the first Congressional Budget Office director to try to use dynamic scoring during the debate about the cost of President George W. Bush’s tax cuts.
  • “Dynamic scoring lives to excite and disappoint simultaneously.”

Go deeper

Sep 24, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Republicans’ secret lobbying

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The five Senate Republicans who helped negotiate and draft the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill have been privately courting their Republican colleagues to pass the measure in the House.

Why it matters: House GOP leaders are actively urging their members to oppose the bill. The senators are working to undercut that effort as Monday shapes up as a do-or-die moment for the bipartisan bill.

Updated Sep 24, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden's big bet backfires

Two key dealmakers — Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) — leave a luncheon in the Capitol yesterday. Photo: Kent Nishimura/L.A. Times via Getty Images

President Biden bit off too much, too fast in trying to ram through what would be the largest social expansion in American history, top Democrats privately say.

Why it matters: At the time Biden proposed it, he had his mind set on a transformational accomplishment that would put him in the pantheon of FDR and JFK.

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Laurene Powell Jobs' $3.5 billion climate campaign

Laurene Powell Jobs, president of Emerson Collective, is investing $3.5 billion in her new climate-action group, the Waverley Street Foundation — all to be spent in 10 years, as a way to show urgency on the issue.

  • Then the group will sunset.

The big picture: The foundation "will focus on initiatives and ideas that will aid underserved communities who are most impacted by climate change," an official tells Axios.