White House Disputes CBO Claim ‘Build Back Better’ Will Add to Debt

By Nick Ciolino
Nick Ciolino
Nick Ciolino
Nick Ciolino covers the White House.
November 19, 2021 Updated: November 19, 2021

The White House is dismissing a report that estimates President Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” legislation will add to the national debt, even though the president has promised repeatedly “it will not add a single cent.”

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates the $1.85 trillion spending bill, supported only by Democrats, will increase the United States’ deficit by $367 billion over 10 years.

This estimation does not factor in an IRS crackdown the administration says would cover the cost.

The budget office estimates the crackdown measure would generate about $207 billion over 10 years, while the White House says that number will “conservatively” reach $400 billion.

“There isn’t a great deal of history, or experience, in scoring IRS enforcement,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said of the CBO report on Nov. 19.

“That’s something that economists across the board have noted.”

Biden’s plan calls for nearly $80 billion to be made available to the IRS to strengthen its enforcement activities.

Psaki pointed to outside experts who have estimated the tax crackdown will bring in even more money than the White House prediction.

“Our projections are not exactly the same as [former U.S. Treasury Secretary] Larry Summers, who said the proposal could result in almost $800 billion in revenue,” she said.

Psaki also referenced an op-ed authored by Trump-appointed IRS Commissioner Charles Reddick that said the White House’s estimated $400 billion figure is “no surprise,” and another co-authored by Republican former-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson estimating “considerably more” revenue than the White House predicted.

But, as Fox News has reported, Biden in a 2010 interview with Larry King called the nonpartisan CBO “the gold standard” that is not questioned by Republicans or Democrats.

Current Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen welcomed the CBO’s analysis as good news, but contradicted its tax revenue estimate saying in a statement that it is “clear that Build Back Better is fully paid for, and in fact will reduce our nation’s debt over time by generating more than $2 trillion through reforms that ask the wealthiest Americans, and large corporations, to pay their fair share.”

“A particularly salient aspect of the revenue raised by the legislation is a historic investment in the IRS to crack down on high-earners who avoid paying the taxes that they owe, which Treasury estimates would generate at least $400 billion in additional revenue,” the statement published Nov. 18 read.

The House voted 220–213 to pass the Build Back Better legislation on Nov. 12, sending the bill to the Senate after months of delays and infighting.

Katabella Roberts contributed to this report.

Nick Ciolino
Nick Ciolino covers the White House.