President Joe Biden and supporters continue to insist his Build Back Better agenda “costs zero dollars” despite arguments to the contrary.
Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler said lawmakers “play all sorts of budget games to achieve that mythical zero within the 10-year budget framework.”
In calling Biden’s claim “misleading,” Kessler gave the president “Two Pinocchios” and noted the number of Pinocchios “could grow higher.”
Biden has taken the “zero-cost” stance as he struggles to get a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and $3.5 social-spending legislation passed by Congress, Fox News reported.
Budget analysts agree with Kessler that the president’s claim is incorrect.
Biden bases his “zero-cost” claim on the notion that the infrastructure plan will add nothing to the federal deficit because the cost will be offset by tax increases and other revenue-generating schemes.
The president says his spending agenda does not include the bipartisan infrastructure bill, even though Democrats have attempted to use it to pass the larger spending bill.
“My Build Back Better Agenda costs zero dollars,” Biden’s @POTUS Twitter account tweeted last week.
“Instead of wasting money on tax breaks, loopholes, and tax evasion for big corporations and the wealthy, we can make a once-in-a-generation investment in working America. And it adds zero dollars to the national debt.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki last week repeated the claim saying, “This reconciliation package would cost zero dollars.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., also said the cost was “zero.”
On Sunday, Biden senior adviser Cedric Richmond said the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill will cost nothing.
“I think what’s important for people to understand is that this piece of legislation costs zero,” Richmond said. “We’re going to pay for it all by raising taxes on the very wealthy and big corporations.”
Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., do not back the larger spending bill. Their support is needed to pass the bill via reconciliation in a chamber divided evenly along party lines.
The Wall Street Journal editorial board disagreed with the $3.5 trillion figure, arguing “that amount is based on budget gimmickry including entitlement phaseouts and phase-ins, and the real cost will be at least $5 trillion, probably far more.”
Kessler said the larger bill’s impact on the deficit could “be as low as zero or as high as $1.75 trillion over 10 years.”
The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the $1 trillion bipartisan bill would add $256 billion to the deficit over 10 years, though the Committee for a Responsible Budget noted that numbers in the CBO report suggested the bill would add $398 billion, Fox News said.
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