The Congressional Budget Office is supposed to be “non-partisan” in its deliberations. But this is Washington, D.C., and the idea that anything — even the menu in the congressional cafeteria — is “nonpartisan” is kind of silly.
So when the CBO speaks, it’s usually with a forked tongue. They don’t lie as much as they just put a thumb on the scale depending on which party is running things on The Hill. And on the Build Back Better bill, the CBO took a deep dive into the massive, $175 trillion spendapalooza and found that — lo and behold! — Joe Biden and the Democrats came up a little short on the revenue side and the legislation will cause the federal deficit to increase.
How short in revenue? The wise heads at the CBO took out their slide rules and abacuses and pondered a bit. They pondered and pondered and pondered some more until their ponderer was sore (HT: Dr. Seuss).
The budget office predicted that the total impact on the federal deficit from the bill would be $367 billion over 10 years. But that estimate did not include the $207 billion in additional revenues the office estimates the I.R.S. would ultimately collect from tax cheats. Those revenues would shrink the projected deficit to $160 billion over 10 years.
$160 billion over ten years isn’t too bad, right? If those numbers are correct, then yes, it’s not a catastrophe.
Except, only liberals, residents of insane asylums, and 5-year-old little kids believe that increased IRS enforcement is going to bring in an additional $207 billion.
The estimated money raised from I.R.S. funding was far less than the $400 billion the White House estimated it would bring in over a decade, both through enforcement actions and by essentially scaring tax cheats into paying what they owe. White House officials and past I.R.S. commissioners say the budget office’s estimates are too conservative. Using the White House estimates for I.R.S. revenues, the overall bill would actually reduce the deficit by $112 billion.
If the IRS could bring in $400 billion in increased revenue, they shouldn’t be collecting taxes at all. We should put them in charge of fixing our climate problem or some other impossible task.
In fact, the only people the IRS is going to “scare” are people too poor to get a lawyer. That makes the IRS a bunch of bullies — just like we always knew they were. Rich people do not scare easily and will usually fight the IRS, scaring them.
Dear Mr. President: Is scaring your subjects into paying taxes the kind of America you want to create?
The CBO report won’t change any minds in the House, but the effect it will have on Democrats in the Senate may be another story.
Still, the assessment from the budget office could complicate the bill’s prospects in the Senate, where the legislation is expected to change considerably if it hopes to pass on a party-line vote. Democrats have no votes to spare in the Senate, and moderates such as Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia have expressed concern that more spending could fuel further inflation, which is currently running at its hottest rate in 30 years.
In the end, the CBO report’s impact will be in the eye of the beholder. If you want an excuse not to vote for the Build Back Better bill, it’s right there in front of you. And if you need a reason to vote in the affirmative, it’s there too.
Washington is so beautiful this time of year.