Today, the House started debating the more than $2 trillion spending package that Democrats hope ultimately to push through the Senate in some form via reconciliation. By agreement, a vote in the House couldn’t take place until the Congressional Budget Office completed its analysis of whether the bill is fully paid for.
Now, the CBO has spoken, paving the way for a vote. It estimates that enacting the 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.”
Proponents of the spending spree bill argue that the shortfall will, in fact, be made up by empowering the IRS to pursue unpaid taxes. However, the CBO disagrees.
In a separate report, it estimates that the increased enforcement would generate only $207 billion in revenue, leaving a shortfall of $160 billion. This, then, looks like another case in which, as the the Washington Post observed, “federal estimates historically have calculated the government would raise less revenue from these proposals than its chief backers insist.” (That language has been scrubbed from the current version of the story in which it originally appeared.)
I expect the House to pass something like the bill now under consideration, if for no other reason than the reality that so-called moderates feel doomed and want to pass something big on their way out, while also showing enough party loyalty to help them in their post-congressional careers. But the Senate is another matter.
Will Joe Manchin buy the Dems’ dubious math? Will raging inflation give him serious pause, as he has suggested it would? Will he accept the fact that the spending bill’s price tag has ballooned to around $2.4 trillion from the $1.75 trillion price tag he seemed to insist upon?
Charles Cooke points out that the recently-enacted infrastructure-plus bill has very broad support in West Virginia, according to polling. By contrast, nearly 74 percent of West Virginia voters say Manchin should oppose the spending bill Democrats want to pass through reconciliation.
There’s not much incentive for Manchin to back legislation anything like what the House is likely to pass.
There’s also the matter of the Hyde amendment. Manchin has demanded that it apply to the spending bill and called this a “red line.” However, Nancy Pelosi says the House legislation excludes it. Maybe the Hyde amendment will be added to the final legislation. But that move might be opposed by hard leftists whose votes are needed.
Thus, it seems highly unlikely that the Senate will pass what Pelosi ends up sending it. But maybe the game plan is for the House to pass something within shouting distance of what Manchin will accept, and then to compromise down the road.
I have never felt confident that I know how this lengthy drama will end. I still don’t.
UPDATE: It’s also important to point out, as Phil Klein does, that the bill would add $750 billion to deficits over the next five years, which is when its spending provisions are actually in effect. In addition, the Committee of Responsible Budget estimates that the $2.4 trillion cost of the legislation will double, to nearly $5 trillion, if temporary provisions (such as the Obamacare expansion, childcare, and universal pre-K) are extended.