Biden’s social care agenda would add $240bn to deficit, officials say

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President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act social spending package would add $240bn to the US budget deficit over the next decade, Congressional Budget Office officials said on Thursday.

The report from the legislative budget watchdog came just hours before the House of Representatives was set to vote on approving the legislation, which provides for expanded child tax credits, childcare subsidies, pre-kindergarten education, expansions of Medicaid and Affordable Care Act health insurance support, as well as other programs.

The social programs package was supposed to be approved in tandem with the bipartisan infrastructure bill which Mr Biden signed into law on Monday, but a group of moderate House Democrats had balked at voting for the social legislation without a CBO cost estimate.

The CBO also reported that proposed increases in Internal Revenue Service funding meant to aid enforcement of tax laws could bring in an additional $127bn in revenue over the same 10-year period, which would mean the bill would only add $240bn to the deficit through 2031.

White House officials have downplayed the significance of the CBO’s analysis for judging the effect of Mr Biden’s signature legislation on the US deficit, and have instead pointed to an analysis by the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation which posits that the bill would raise approximately $148 trillion over the same period and would be unlikely to add to the deficit.

Representative Mike Levin, a California Democrat who is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told The Independent that he does not believe the moderate Democrats who had balked at voting for the bill without a CBO score would scuttle it when the House votes later on Thursday.

“Yes, I think they're gonna support this,” he said.

Asked about whether the legislation could make it through the Senate with a planned repeal of a Trump-era law which eliminated tax deductions for state and local taxes often paid by high income-earners, Mr Levin said he knew senators would make “further modifications” to the bill.

“Senator Menendez and Senator Sanders are looking at it, and we'll just have to see what gets sent back to us before making any sort of final conclusion,” he said.

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