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Democrats’ Spending Bill Even Larger than the Advertised $3.5 Trillion

Editors at the Washington Examiner call foul on those who peg congressional Democrats’ spending proposal at $3.5 trillion.

Two centrist sources, one of them explicitly Democratic, provided further reasons why Congress should reject the Democratic Party’s massive $3.5 trillion “reconciliation” spending bill.

The best new reason to oppose Democrats’ massive, $3.5 trillion reconciliation spending bill is that even its outlandish price tag represents an exercise in budgetary sleight of hand. In other words, it is a lie.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget — a respected, non-partisan arbiter — notes in a statement that its true cost “could exceed $5 trillion.”

Before getting into the details, it is worth noting this $5 trillion budget blowout would come on top of a $1.2 trillion “infrastructure” bill that is more about social spending than bricks and mortar. That one, in turn, would come atop — get this! — a total of $5.7 trillion already spent in six different COVID-19 relief bills and several executive orders in just 13 months.

In 2016, just five years ago, the entire federal budget was less than $4 trillion. Now, the total federal debt is nearly 130% of gross domestic product, creating an economically dangerous situation. With those numbers in mind, even $3.5 trillion for this new bill would be hideously reckless. But given the real 10-year cost of $5 trillion, it is insane.

As the CRFB explains, the $3.5 trillion results from the zero-likelihood possibility tax credits and new spending programs designed to be permanent will actually expire before the end of the 10-year budget window. By pretending permanent programs are temporary, they get a better bottom line.

The CRFB calls this an “oft-criticized budget gimmick” that will “obscure the true cost of the legislation and put program beneficiaries at risk.”

The Democrats’ ploy here is both cynical and irresponsible. Eventually, the only way to escape from this debt will be through massive inflation, governmental default, or tax hikes. That’s why the entire budget reconciliation package should be abandoned as soon as possible.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...