As Democrats in the House of Representatives struggled on Friday to schedule votes for two pieces of legislation critical to President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda, lawmakers on behalf of members of both sides went ahead with official budget “scores”. There were complaints about the decision of The larger of the two bills.
Republicans staged a press conference Friday morning on the grounds of the Capitol, asking Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to postpone a planned vote on the president’s build back to a better package of climate and social services spending until the budget scores. Called for, which has been prepared by Congress. Budget Office has been published.
Moderate Democratic members of the House also complained about the lack of budget scores. Meanwhile, in the Senate, which must sign Build Back Better legislation to become law, West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin accused Pelosi and his leadership team of playing the “shell game” to hide the effects of the bill. federal budget.
Munchkin argued Monday that the “real cost” of the $1.75 trillion bill would be nearly double that amount if key elements of the package were extended or made permanent. Without knowing how it would affect “our debt and our economy and our country,” Munchkin said he would not support it.
Both the White House and Democratic leaders in the House insist that the legislation they introduced has paid off in full. By this, they mean that all new spending in the bill is offset either by new revenue sources or by a reduction in spending in other areas.
What is the budget ‘score’?
A common problem in political battles in Washington is that both sides often speak to each other using words and phrases that one party interprets as having a completely different meaning than the other.
When it comes to how the proposed legislation is expected to affect the federal budget, however, there is a neutral arbitrator whose decisions both parties, sometimes reluctantly, respect.
The Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, is an agency created in the 1970s to provide lawmakers with a nonpartisan analysis of the expected economic effects of proposed legislation. When lawmakers ask the CBO to provide an analysis of a specific bill, the product the agency provides is known as the law’s budget score.
“The CBO is the neutral gatekeeper,” said William Gale, a senior fellow in the economic studies program at the Brookings Institution and a former senior economist on the Council of Economic Advisors under President George H.W. Bush.
“Especially in the politically charged environment we have, we need some organization that is able to put numbers that both sides can agree on,” he said. “If the numbers the two sides are using are completely different, you can’t really even discuss it. The CBO has earned through many hard-won battles and meticulous work and I think he deserves that role.
The CBO has a reputation for being something like a thorn in the side of the White House. The director of the agency is the person appointed by the presidency, but the tradition of independence within the agency is usually followed by the director, which often leads to intraparty conflict.
Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who ran the CBO for nearly three years during President George W. Bush’s first term, came under constant fire from his own party after the agency under his leadership presented increasingly honest assessments of the real effects of a proposed tax. Deductions and considerations like the partial privatization of the social security system.
CBO directors usually “cause the most trouble for their parties,” Holtz-Eakin told VOA.
“When I was appointed CBO director, of course, Republicans said good things about nonpartisanship … and if you don’t, they get mad. So, every director, their His party is mad at him,” he said.
Build Back Better Cost
This by no means means that the Congress is working in complete darkness in the absence of a CBO score. The bill, which is currently before the House, has been reviewed by both the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), another branch of Congress, and the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
Both JCT and OMB have reported that overall the Democrats’ claim that the bill offsets spending is correct. However, because elements of the bill keep changing, it is difficult to say with certainty whether the latest version lives up to the claims of lawmakers.
The bill, which originally cost $3.5 trillion, has been reduced to $1.75 trillion at last count. But critics say the lower number doesn’t really reflect a 50% drop in spending.
Temporary program, or permanent?
Some long-time observers of the Congressional budget battle believe that the objections of fiscal hawkers like Manchin stem from the early termination of several programs that Democrats explicitly intended to make permanent.
In that case, manchines in the “shell game” include strategies such as reducing the total cost of the bill by eliminating a popular new refundable child tax credit after only one year, even though everyone involved knows that Congressional Democrats. plans to start again. Tax credits after they expire.
Such moves have allowed Democrats to claim Munchkin’s latest version of the bill cuts spending in half. “But it’s not apples to apples,” said G. William Hoagland, a senior vice president of the Bipartisan Policy Center and former Republican staff director on the Senate Budget Committee.
“So the question becomes, ‘Well, wait a minute, if this was really 10 years, what would it really cost?’ Hoglund said.
As written, Hoagland said, he has no doubt that much of the bill’s spending is offset, as Democrats claim. But that doesn’t provide the full picture — and that’s where CBO can come in.
Hoagland said, “All I can say is that I think that’s why you need an independent group of people who have no affiliation with any party, to look at it separately and analyze it. “