Upon Further Review, Build Back Better Will Add $3 Trillion to the National Debt, Says CBO – Not Including the Costs of Amnesty

You know that $1.75 trillion Build Back Better (BBB) bill that was approved by the House of Representatives last month and is awaiting consideration in the Senate? The one that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated would add “only” about $367 billion to the federal deficit over the next decade – which the Biden administration claims will pay for itself?

Well, if you were a little skeptical, you are not alone. The ranking Republican members of both the Senate and House Budget Committees weren’t quite convinced either. The CBO, through no fault of its own, was forced to make its initial assessment based on the actual language of the bill, which includes sunset provisions for all of the new entitlement programs it establishes or expands. The sunset provisions were included in the bill for the purpose of ensuring a CBO report that would make it appear that the legislation would have minimal impact on the federal deficit (if you consider $367 billion to be minimal).

But, as Ronald Reagan astutely noted, “The closest thing to eternal life on earth is a government program.” With that observation in mind, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.) asked the CBO to take another look and come up with a cost estimate for BBB if all of these new and expanded programs lived on beyond their sunset dates. Freed from their constraints of having to accept the deceitful premise that the sunset provisions would be honored, the CBO numbers-crunchers came up with some very different – and more realistic – estimates.

According to the revised report, the CBO estimates that the true cost of the bill is not $1.75 trillion, but rather $4.8 trillion. And rather than adding “just” $367 billion to the deficit, it would actually balloon it by about $3 trillion.

The cost may actually be higher, however. The CBO’s scoring of BBB without the deceptive sunset provisions did not even look at the cost of the mass amnesty for an estimated 7 million illegal aliens (perhaps because they believe that the Senate parliamentarian is going to rule them out of order). If the immigration provisions of BBB were to somehow survive and pass the Senate, they would add another $483 billion to the federal debt over the next 20 years, and possibly as much as a trillion dollars over the lifetimes of the amnesty recipients.

The revised CBO scoring should also have an impact on one other key figure in Washington, who will likely determine the fate of BBB: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who has repeatedly expressed his deep reservations about the cost of the bill. Regardless of his views on whether a mass illegal alien amnesty has any legitimate place in a budget reconciliation measure, the $4.8 trillion price tag, $3 trillion of which will borrowed from future generations, should be enough for him to vote no.

About Author


Ira joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 1986 with experience as a journalist, professor of journalism, special assistant to Gov. Richard Lamm (Colorado), and press secretary of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. His columns have appeared in National Review, LA Times, NY Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, and more. He is an experienced TV and radio commentator.

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