The U.S. House of Representatives is preparing to vote this month on an updated version of the Democrats’ reckless taxing and spending bill, despite many Americans—and Members of Congress—being left in the dark about what exactly is being considered and the likely resulting effects. Legislation as expansive and unprecedented as this should be fully vetted and afforded appropriate opportunity for review and debate, and demands full transparency on any possible budget gimmicks to understand the true cost.
New estimates from Penn Wharton Budget Model at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business show that if all the taxing and spending proposals put forth by the White House and congressional Democrats are made permanent, it will cost nearly $4.3 trillion, more than double the Democrats’ advertised cost. The Penn Wharton Budget Model also finds the tax provisions and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) funding proposal intended to “pay for” their bill only amount to less than $1.6 trillion—much lower than previously reported. Subtracting out phantom budget “savings” from the IRS funding scheme pulls that down to less than $1.4 trillion. That gap would show up as deficits and debt that could be as much as $3 trillion, accounting for spending gimmickry.
I joined Senate Committee Republican leaders in raising these issues in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York), calling for scores, hearings and markups with votes. Proper assessment of the impacts this massive bill will have on the federal budget requires official cost estimates from the nonpartisan budget experts at the Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation. It also deserves full committee consideration and debate, including the opportunity to publicly question the experts, and to offer amendments and hold votes.
An initial assessment of what we have publicly seen suggests hastily-pasted together tax hikes that will stunt our economic recovery, further impede labor markets, and punish low- and middle-income workers while doing nothing to dampen ongoing inflation, supply chain damages, or price hikes on everyday goods and services, just as our nation attempts to recover from the pandemic. Spending into heightened inflation to secure partisan footholds on policies is reckless and risky. Tax hikes in early phases of a recovery are malpractice. It is a blueprint to recklessly tax and spend our country into fiscal ruin and will do long-term damage to our economy.
Failure to secure details on the true cost of these spending proposals and offsets, and to hold full, open committee markups, only serves to erode the American people’s trust in the Senate as an open and effective institution. We cannot substitute a secretive process behind closed doors for a public dialogue, nor rhetorical scores for true economic impact.
It is beyond reasonable to expect a full and transparent legislative process that enables complete disclosure of the cost of the Democrats’ unprecedented, far-reaching and highly disruptive legislation. Idahoans and all Americans deserve to know the details of the legislation being considered and the likely resulting effects. The potentially $4-plus trillions of tax dollars at stake compound this need. I will continue to fight against this reckless spending spree coupled with job-killing tax proposals and press for building on time-proven, pro-growth policies.
Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) is the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee.