Democrats' spending priorities could cost more than advertised: analysis

Democrats' spending priorities could cost more than advertised: analysis
© Greg Nash

The spending policies that Senate Democrats are considering as part of their budget plan could cost between $5 trillion and $5.5 trillion over 10 years if they are made permanent, according to an analysis released Monday by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB), a budget watchdog group.

The estimate greatly exceeds the $3.5 trillion spending figure that key Senate Democrats agreed to last week. Democrats are expected to stay under $3.5 trillion by making some of their desired spending temporary. 

CRFB criticized Democrats for planning to use a "budget gimmick" to mask the full cost of their spending priorities.

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"It would be unwise and irresponsible to use arbitrary expirations and sunsets to obscure the true cost of this legislation," the group wrote.

Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden discusses agenda with Schumer, Pelosi ahead of pivotal week CEOs urge Congress to raise debt limit or risk 'avoidable crisis' If .5 trillion 'infrastructure' bill fails, it's bye-bye for an increasingly unpopular Biden MORE (D-N.Y.) and Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee last week reached a deal on a $3.5 trillion budget resolution. The deal could facilitate a spending bill that is focused on areas such as education, health care and clean energy that could pass without Republican votes.

A senior Democratic aide said that the duration of many of the spending programs would depend on their cost and feedback from relevant congressional committees.

CRFB estimated the cost of Senate Democrats' spending goals by assuming that the policies included in the budget deal would resemble items in President BidenJoe BidenHouse Democrat threatens to vote against party's spending bill if HBCUs don't get more federal aid Overnight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Haitians stuck in Texas extend Biden's immigration woes MORE's fiscal 2022 budget proposal and legislative proposals.

The group estimated that Senate Democrats' plan as outlined last week includes spending policies that would cost about $5 trillion over 10 years.

That cost could rise to $5.5 trillion if certain policies that Democrats did not include in their outline, such as changes to the cap on the state and local tax deduction and an expansion of graduate medical education, are factored in, and if potential estimating differences between the Office of Management and Budget and the Congressional Budget Office are also taken into account, CRFB said.

Democrats' proposals "appear to cost far more than the $3.5 trillion advertised," CRFB said.