May 3, 2021

WITH THE CONNIVANCE OF THE PRESS: How the White House is hiding the true cost of its spending plans.

The first budget gimmick is to provide a cost estimate for the administration’s infrastructure plan, the American Jobs Plan, for only eight years, instead of the standard budget convention of 10 years. The White House Fact Sheet (March 31, 2021) states that the plan will “invest about $2 trillion this decade.” But White House officials have admitted that this $2 trillion number is imprecise. The real spending is closer to $2.4 trillion, and that number does not include more than $400 billion in new tax credits for various programs, making the real eight-year number $2.8 trillion. Over 10 years, the true cost of the plan would be at least $3.5 trillion, nearly double the original estimate.

The second budget gimmick comes in the form of an estimate of the revenue raised over 15 years, not the conventional 10 years. This ruse allows the White House to overestimate the amount of money coming in so that it can then claim the proposed tax increases cover the cost of its proposed spending. But that is not the case. The corporate tax increases would raise an estimated $2.5 trillion over 15 years, according to the Treasury. This works out to about $1.7 trillion over 10 years, which means that only about half of the $3.5 trillion to be spent over the same 10 years would be covered.

In sum, the White House accounting gimmickry is hiding the actual cost of its spending plans, overestimating the tax revenue coming in to pay for the spending, and obscuring the plan’s actual impact on the budget. Every journalist covering this issue has either missed this budget gamesmanship or is in on the ruse and has neglected to point it out.

Democratic operatives with bylines.

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