The projected Democrat reconciliation bill that seeks $3.5 trillion in spending to expand the social safety net ending over the next decade could actually cost some $2 trillion more than that, according to an analysis by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB), Fox Business reported on Wednesday.
The spending deal was announced last week and would invest billions in numerous planned health, education, environment, and social programs.
"In order to fit these proposals within a $3.5 trillion budget target, lawmakers apparently intend to have some policies expire before the end of the ten-year budget window, using this oft-criticized budget gimmick to hide their true cost," CRFB said in the analysis, which assumed all of the policy provisions were permanent.
The nonpartisan CRFB explained that congressmen often establish or extend policies "on a temporary basis when they intend such policies to be permanent [because] doing so can help reduce a policy’s reported ten-year cost or help legislation circumvent rules that prohibit long-term increases in debt."
A recent example of such a tactic was in 2017, when Republicans passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that included several income tax provisions scheduled to sunset within a few years, even though congressmen indicated at the time they did not plan to let that happen.
The CRFB referenced that legislation when explaining why it should not happen this time, saying "This budget gimmick, which would obscure the true cost of the legislation and put program beneficiaries at risk, was rightly criticized in 2017 when used for some of the 2017 tax cuts."
The group stressed that "It would be unwise and irresponsible to use arbitrary expirations and sunsets to obscure the true cost of this legislation."
Progressives such as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders have sought as much as $6 trillion in new spending, while moderate congressmen have targeted a smaller figure that won't add to the already record-high deficit the country has accumulated.
"We know we have a long road to go," said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer last week, who has this week urged Democrats to agree to move forward with the $3.5 trillion blueprint.
"If we pass this, this is the most profound change to help American families in generations," he explained.
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