October 25, 2021

WSJ: Biden Plan’s $3.5 Trillion Price Tag is Actually a Huge Underestimate

If lawmakers want to bankrupt the country, raise our taxes, and waste our money, they ought to at least be upfront about it.

The fight over the fate of multi-trillion-dollar spending proposals continues in Washington, DC as we head into the weekend. Yet the conversation is missing a crucial detail. 

Reporters, political onlookers, and commentators are all speculating over the fate of the $3.5+ trillion “human infrastructure” spending plan—which funds sweeping climate change schemes, unprecedented welfare expansions, and more—proposed by President Biden and his allies in Congress. Moderate Democrats like Sens. Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema are on the record arguing that $3.5 trillion is too much money. Some speculate that a “compromise” of $1.5 trillion could be reached. Yet progressives like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders are threatening to blow everything up if they don’t get the full spending package.  

Here’s what’s being overlooked in this entire debate. While $3.5 trillion is already an astonishingly huge price tag—it equates to $24,000 per federal taxpayer and would require massive tax hikes—the proposal on offer does not actually cost $3.5 trillion. This figure is a vast underestimate of its true cost. 

“Democrats are grasping for ways to finance their cradle-to-grave welfare state, with the left demanding what they claim is $3.5 trillion over 10 years,” the Wall Street Journal editorial board writes. “The truth is that even that gargantuan number hides the real cost of their plans.”

“The bills moving through committees are full of delayed starts, phony phase-outs, and cost shifting to states designed to fit $3.5 trillion into a 10-year budget window that can pass with a mere 51 Senate votes,” the Journal explains. “Even if the bill[’s official price tag] shrinks to $2 trillion or less, the real costs will be far greater. Behold one of the greatest fiscal cons in history.”

Simply put, the proposed legislation uses budget gimmicks and unusual timelines to make it seem like they’re spending less than they likely would spend in actuality if implemented. According to the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, the true cost of the plan is likely closer to $5 trillion. 

We estimate the policies under consideration could cost between $5 trillion and $5.5 trillion over a decade, assuming they are made permanent,” the organization reports. “In order to fit these proposals within a $3.5 trillion budget target, lawmakers apparently intend to have some policies expire before the end of the ten-year budget window, using this oft-criticized budget gimmick to hide their true cost.”

Let that sink in. 

Progressive politicians are pushing a multi-trillion-dollar spending package that, even taken at face value, would blow out the budget and cost taxpayers unthinkable amounts of money. Yet they’re actually understating the true cost of their proposal by up to $2 trillion. That’s, roughly estimated, up to an additional $14,000 per federal taxpayer. 

This dishonesty is mind-boggling—and unacceptable. If lawmakers want to bankrupt the country, raise our taxes, and waste our money, they ought to at least be upfront about it.

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This article, WSJ: Biden Plan’s $3.5 Trillion Price Tag is Actually a Huge Underestimate, was originally published by the Foundation for Economic Education and appears here with permission.  Please support their mission.