Mural in Bethesda, Maryland. Photo by 'Mr.TinDC,' Creative Commons License 2.0.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has released its analysis of the bipartisan infrastructure bill that may eventually get a vote in the Senate, and we learned two major things about the infrastructure bill. For one thing, where the bill's proponents had said the full $1.2 trillion in spending would be totally paid for, the CBO score found it would add $256 billion to the federal deficit over the next decade. For another, we learned that the bill has a name, the "Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act," which nobody uses and which I'm sure I'll forget before I'm finished writing the next paragraph.

Will that relatively modest increase in the deficit be enough for Republican budget hawks to sink the bill? Dunno! As 2017's Big Fat Tax Cut for Rich Fuckwads proved, the amount of deficit spending that's acceptable to Republicans is actually huge, at least when a Republican is president. Now that Joe Biden is president, the extra $256 billion over 10 years is almost certainly an irresponsible burden on our children and grandchildren, so we should probably let the roads and bridges fall apart and not replace lead water pipes anywhere.


The CBO report makes for some riveting reading, if only because we're pretty sure rivets will be used in some construction projects. As a casual reader, you might not be fascinated by sentences like "Section 614 of title VI of division J would authorize appropriations for the Environmental Protection Agency to make grants to state revolving funds that would be used by state and local governments to leverage additional funds to carry out capital projects."

We know this is very important information on who pays how much for what and how, but it might be greatly improved by some gratuitous cursing or sex scenes.

The really big thing about the report is whether it will actually make a difference to the bill's prospects for passage. As the Washington Post puts it,

The estimate could strain political support for the $1 trillion infrastructure package among some Republicans who have said they are concerned about its impact on the deficit. Some of the GOP lawmakers who helped broker the deal are expected to continue supporting the package, however, making the fate of the measure unclear. A final vote could come as early as Thursday evening.

Funding for the infrastructure package has been a sticking point all along. Republicans went into the negotiations insisting there could be no tax increases, and certainly no repeal of anything in the 2017 tax cuts. Republican negotiators also rejected what had been an early agreement to fund the fairly modest $500 billion of new spending in the plan by giving the IRS money to actually collect taxes already owed by the very rich, because apparently even going after tax cheats counts as a "tax increase."

CNN also reports that it's not entirely clear whether the CBO score will scare off any of the dozen or so Republican senators who initially signed on to the plan:

While the plan has bipartisan support in the Senate, some lawmakers had cited the need for a CBO score before deciding whether to support the measure. It's unclear how or if Thursday's report will sway members of Congress who are still making up their minds.

The bill's two lead negotiators – Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona for the Democrats and Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio for the Republicans – said the CBO score did not account for all the ways the bill offset costs.

"The new spending under the bill is offset through a combination of new revenue and savings, some of which is reflected in the formal CBO score and some of which is reflected in other savings and additional revenue identified in estimates, as CBO is limited in what it can include in its formal score," the senators said in a joint statement.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) predicted there would be enough votes to pass the bill, but also said the CBO score is a "real problem," because oh no, what about the deficit? We should note that Cornyn not only voted for the huge 2017 tax cuts, but was a central player in getting the bill passed.

Also too, let's recall that back in 2017, we learned that at the last minute, a provision was added to the tax cut bill that greatly benefited real estate investors like Donald Trump and Cornyn's colleague, then-Sen. Bob Corker, who initially opposed the tax cuts because of the deficit, but then suddenly supported the bill once that provision was added.

Cornyn dismissed concerns about what was called the "Corker kickback," because "the particular provision you're talking about, honestly, is just one piece of a 1,000-page bill which is going to grow the American economy.," and besides, he explained, to pass the tax cuts through reconciliation, Republicans had had no choice:

Well, we were working very hard. It was a very intense process. As I said, the Democrats refused to participate. And what we've tried to do is cobble together the votes we needed to get this bill passed.

So sometimes you just need to add a trillion or two bucks to the deficit, and sometimes $250 billion is a very, very concerning thing, don't you see?

OK, now quick, without looking up at the first paragraph, can you remember the bill's official name? Me neither. "Bipartisan infrastructure bill" it remains.

[Congressional Budget Office / CNN / WaPo / WSJ / Photo: "Mr.TinDC," Creative Commons License 2.0]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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