January 13, 2022 - Douglas Myser

Build Back Better accounting mess. While candidate Biden stated that he was only going to tax the rich, and then also pay for any programs that he proposed, the scale of the programs he us proposing, due to the impact of the Covid health crisis, makes those realities more difficult. In fact looking at the Build Back Better proposal objectively, one could argue that several gimmicks have been deployed to alter the true cost of the plan, and that what the White House is saying about its cost has been dampened a bit. The first person to really raise this issue was Sen. Joe Manchin, D. W.Va, who is taking flak for his disagreements with parts of the proposal, but his dissection of the costs and gimmicks used to pay for Build Back Better are fairly accurate. Build Back Better accounting mess.

A while back, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., called for the Build Back Better infrastructure bill to be free of accounting gimmicks. Recently, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R. S.C., called for a "stop in the madness" regarding the calculation of the costs of the bill and asked the Congressional Budget Office to recalculate the bill's costs without the budget gimmicks used to keep the legislation costs low. These are honorable demands, but they highlight the fatal flaws in how Congress makes financial decisions. Frankly, the federal government has trouble with basic accounting.


Poor budget estimates and the shortsighted way our national debt is calculated make it impossible for elected officials to make sound financial choices. Congress must be held accountable for their decisions. But we, the American people, cannot hold them accountable if we don't know the true short term and long term financial consequences of their decisions. Just because we are in the middle of a health crisis, doesn't mean we have to throw out the transparency that should come with a very large spending bill. But that seems to be what is being done, as a way to get it passed.