Bipartisan Infrastructure Act a Good Start, But Needs More Pay-Fors
Today, negotiators announced a final legislative package on their $550 billion Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal and presented details of that agreement. Though the Congressional Budget Office has not scored the proposal yet, the offsets appear to be a combination of real pay-fors and budget gimmicks.
The following is a statement from Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget:
It is very encouraging that our leaders have put partisanship aside and come together to make important investments in the economy. In a time where so much of our policymaking is overly politicized, this is a very productive step.
Nonetheless, we are deeply concerned that this legislation does not appear to be fully paid for.
In the good news category, the legislation includes sensible reforms to lower prescription drug prices, extend or impose fees, and improve information reporting to reduce the tax gap.
But it also relies on several phony offsets that will save little or no money. This includes taking credit for savings that have already occurred and reviving budget gimmicks like pension smoothing.
Sadly, common-sense bipartisan measures like indexing the gas tax for inflation were removed from the package.
Instead, policymakers should identify additional offsets to fully cover the costs and ideally – as President Biden proposed – reduce long-term deficits. Between income tax revenue, user fees, and spending reforms, there are plenty of offsets available.
At this point, it feels like bipartisanship is only possible when it is coupled with enlarging the debt. We shouldn’t have to bribe lawmakers to work together; instead, we need to build on this deal by adding in additional pay-fors to create truly monumental legislation that is bipartisan and fiscally responsible.
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