COMPETES Act is Missing a Score and Offsets

The House of Representatives is set to vote on the America COMPETES Act of 2022 soon, which is its version of the Senate-passed United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) of 2021. Because there is not yet a Congressional Budget Office score of the bill, it is unknown how much it costs, but it has at least $50 billion of emergency appropriations for semiconductor production incentives. The following is a statement from Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget:

Maintaining America’s economic standing by improving our ability to compete with China on research and manufacturing is a worthy investment, but it should not come at the expense of future generations saddled with more debt. Just as the Senate-passed USICA missed the mark for its borrowing, so does the House’s America COMPETES Act. What’s even worse about this process is that we do not even know how much debt it will accrue because CBO has not yet been given the necessary time to release a score.

Emergency designations are for just what the name implies: emergencies. Funding research and manufacturing that will take years to stand up is not an emergency, and it should be funded as any other investment should be funded with offsetting spending cuts or revenue increases. Lawmakers should fully offset this bill, not just add it to the nation’s credit card.

As the House and Senate conference a final bill, they should reconsider whether it is worth borrowing from China to compete with them and instead fully offset any proposed increases in spending or reductions in taxes. An investment worth doing is worth paying for. And, at the very least, they should wait until a CBO score so that lawmakers can actually know how the bill they are voting on affects our nation’s finances. With inflation at a 40-year high and debt projected to mount ever higher over the coming years it’s time to start scrutinizing costs before committing to them.


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