CBO says Build Back Better adds to the deficit, Psaki denies

CBO says Build Back Better adds to the deficit, Psaki denies

President Biden thinks the Congressional Budget Office’s analyses are the “gold standard” — but apparently only when it suits his needs.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Friday continued to insist that President Biden’s Build Back Better Act will not increase the federal deficit by a single cent on Friday, despite the CBO warning it could add $367 billion. 

And that drew a reminder of what both she and Biden have said in the past when CBO projections suited their political messaging.

“Is the president going to stop saying the Build Back Better plan does not increase the deficit one single cent? We know now that that’s not true,” Fox News’ Peter Doocy asked White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki during Friday’s daily press briefing. 

“It is true,” Psaki insisted. “And I would note the several economics and experts out there — I would — I think you’re probably talking about the CBO score…”

Jen Psaki
Jen Psaki continues to claim that Build Back Better doesn’t add to the deficit despite that the CBO says it will.

“Which Joe Biden himself, in 2010, called the gold standard for Democrats and Republicans,” Doocy interjected. 

Psaki fired back, noting that experts, Democrats and Republicans “including former heads of the CBO” have said the office does not have a lot of experience with scoring IRS enforcement. 

“They still scored it but it’s undervalued by the assessment of many economists and experts, including people who have been critical of us in the past,” Psaki said, before adding that the White House’s assessment is that the legislation will reduce the deficit over 10 years. 

Jen Psaki
Fox News Steve Doocy reminded Psaki that President Biden had previously called the CBO “the gold standard.”

Doocy pushed back, mentioning the CBO estimate again saying, “The President was not telling the truth.” 

Psaki again defended the White House’s own estimate, citing several experts on both sides of the aisle while noting Doocey and her own lack of expertise in economics.

“So again, this is an area where experts, economic experts — neither of us are one, I think we can confirm that — have confirmed that there are significant savings that will come from this.”

The Fox News correspondent pushed further, pointing to a moment in the previous administration when Psaki tweeted, “Watching [Trump OMB director Mick] Mulvaney try to walk away from CBO score and explain budget outline is awkward and uncomfortable to watch.”

Jen Psaki
Jen Psaki claims the CBO isn’t used to scoring IRS enforcement.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

“So what is the difference between the Trump administration saying ‘don’t listen to the CBO’ and this administration saying, ‘don’t listen to the CBO,’” Doocy asked.

Psaki did not address the tweet mention but said the Biden administration has praised the “overall work” of the CBO on the Build Back Better Act.

“But again, I would point to the fact that there isn’t a great deal of history or experience in scoring IRS enforcement,” she added.

The exchange came hours after the House narrowly passed the bill in question in a 220-213 vote, months after negotiations on its provisions and budget. 

Earlier this week, a report emerged that the White House was warning lawmakers that the CBO estimate would say the bill would not be paid for, urging many to disregard the report. 

Deputy press secretary Andrew Bates also downplayed the agency’s expertise, telling reporters that the CBO “does not have experience analyzing revenue amounts gained from cracking down on wealthy tax cheats.”

After promising a vote on the bill for this week, Democratic leadership held off on bringing it to the floor until the CBO report came out, as several moderate House democrats were wary of providing their full support. 

Only one Democrat — Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) — sided with Republicans during Friday’s vote. The bill did not carry any Republican support. 

The Build Back Better Act now faces an uphill battle in the Senate where two moderate Democrats — Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — have objected to several provisions and demanded the measure be fully paid for.

President Joe Biden
The CBO warned that President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act could increase the deficit by over $367 Billion.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Democrats need complete party support to pass the bill in the Senate through a parliamentary measure called reconciliation — which allows the bill to pass without Republican support.

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