WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives Budget Harmonization Act could increase the federal deficit by about $ 200 billion over 10 years, which falls short of legislators’ ambitions to fully pay for the climate and social spending package, a non-partisan budget watch group said Monday.
The Committee on Responsible Federal Budgeting said in its analysis that the latest version of the Democratic House of Representatives bill includes $ 2.4 trillion in spending and tax expenses, but only $ 2.2 trillion in compensation.
The group considers the Democratic proposal to raise the current $ 10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions (called SALT) to $ 80,000 by 2030, with a short-term refund to $ 10,000 in 2031 as an expense and compensation. The reserve will be worth $ 285 billion until 2025, when the current $ 10,000 cap expires, and thereafter will raise $ 300 billion, resulting in a net income of $ 15 billion, according to CRFB data.
This is consistent with Democratic estimates that the SALT grant would raise $ 14 billion over 10 years in a deliberate attempt to make the increased cap pay off over time.
The CRFB said that the increase in revenue from SALT changes is in line with current legislation, and this is what they included in their calculation. But they note that an increase in the cap will “substantially increase the cost of renewal” of other selected provisions of the 2017 GOP tax law that will expire after 2025, “and thus could lead to lower revenue collection over time.”
If SALT is not included in the CRFB figures, the top lines of $ 2.1 trillion in spending and tax expenses and $ 1.9 trillion in revenue compensation are closer to the White House’s November 4 preliminary estimate. The administration estimates the package has a total value of about $ 2 trillion, and it says it will be more than fully paid for through higher taxes, stronger tax laws and savings on health care.
Difference in tax performance
However, compensation still falls short of $ 200 billion in CRFB numbers because the White House expects a much larger return on the $ 80 billion in compulsory funding the bill will provide to the IRS to improve tax enforcement.
The White House has calculated that the increase in IRS funding will generate $ 400 billion in revenue, but the CRFB says that is likely to be less than one third of that amount.
“Based on recent CBO estimates, we believe the law will generate about $ 125 billion in net tax improvements,” the group’s analysis said, citing the Congressional Budget Office.
House President Richard E. Neal, Massachusetts, said last week that the White House’s estimate of $ 480 billion in gross revenue, which is $ 400 billion after accounting for an $ 80 billion increase in spending for the IRS, is “realistic.” … … “
Neil said he expects IRS Commissioner Charles P. Rettig, who has released even higher estimates of tax-enforcement revenues, to explain to the CBO what his agency can do with mandatory funding that will generate higher revenues.
“I think he’s going to weigh in, and I think it will be very helpful,” Neal said.
While the CRFB deviates from the White House in terms of tax revenue, it uses different White House estimates in its analysis. For example, the White House said it expects to get $ 250 billion in savings on prescription drugs, including by allowing Medicare to negotiate lower prices for some older drugs that have been on the market for years.
The group also uses the White House’s $ 100 billion cost estimate for immigration provisions in the bill, while admitting that “the actual cost is unknown and the structure could change in the Senate.”
The CRFB acknowledges that the package’s actual deficit impact “is likely to be slightly lower” than the estimated $ 200 billion if immigration provisions are overstated and some of the budgetary authority foreseen in the 10-year budget window is not spent. until 2032 or later.
“On the other hand, legislation is too heavily reliant on arbitrary expiration to reduce the claimed costs,” the group wrote. “Making all provisions consistent will cost $ 2-2.5 trillion over a decade. Whether they will contribute to an increase in debt depends on the presence or absence of future offsets. “
Risking Moderate Support
The White House felt confident enough in its preliminary estimate of the package to make that part of the deal, which the progressive and moderate House of Representatives struck late Friday.
Five moderate Democrats, who prevented the House of Representatives from voting on the budget reconciliation package on Friday because they wanted to see official CBO estimates, said they would vote in favor of the bill if possible CBO numbers “match the top lines of income and investment” in the White House. evaluate.
Representatives from Hawaii, Ed Keyes, New Jersey’s Josh Gottheimer, Florida’s Stephanie Murphy, New York’s Kathleen Rice and Oregon’s Kurt Schrader, said they “continue to work to close any discrepancies” in budget estimates.
If the CRFB estimates match the numbers the CBO produces, the moderates will have an outlet for their promise. But only if the CBO works quickly. The five promised that they would support the package as soon as they received the CBO numbers, “but by no means no later than November 15th.”
President Joe Biden, who worked on the phones with moderates and progressive people as they brokered the deal, also promised to find enough revenue to make up the difference if the CBO said the compensation was inadequate, according to spokesman Jimmy Gomez, California. ., a progressive negotiator.
“The president has agreed … that if there is not enough income, he will find income to compensate for it,” Gomez said.
Gomez said progressives and moderators have carefully crafted every word in the statement, and progressives have added “top lines” to ensure that CBO numbers do not have to match every line in the White House analysis. The agreement was that total expenses and revenues must match in order to prove that the package was paid as promised by the White House.
“Basically, it needs to be balanced,” he said.
The CBO is expected to submit its estimates by November 15 if there are no more changes to the package, Gomez said. But progressives were keen to add a line to the moderators’ statement that they would vote in favor of the measure that week, regardless of moderators pushing for further changes to delay the assessment, he said.
Gottheimer, one of five moderates who were negotiating the deal with the progressives, said Sunday that he expects to see a CBO cost estimate next week that aligns with White House numbers.
“We plan to move forward because I’m confident it will live up to our expectations,” Gottheimer told CNN’s State of the Union. “What’s most important … is that this account is financially responsible and paid.”
Neil said the CBO estimate could potentially show even greater deficit savings than the White House estimates.
“I really think you can look forward to a little more income,” he said. “Once we can sort through the prescription drug savings and once we can look at the IRS projections … we may have a little more room around the edges.”
(David Lerman contributed to this report.)