US Chamber of Commerce: Reconciliation Bill ‘Gimmicks’ Hide $1T in Spending

US Chamber of Commerce: Reconciliation Bill 'Gimmicks' Hide $1T in Spending joe biden speaks to press at port of baltimore President Joe Biden speaks about the recently passed $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act at the Port of Baltimore on Nov. 10, 2021, in Baltimore, Maryland. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

By Charlie McCarthy | Thursday, 11 November 2021 10:45 AM

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce accused congressional Democrats of using "gimmicks to cover up well over $1 trillion in spending" in President Joe Biden’s social spending legislation.

The country’s largest lobbying group sent a letter to congressional members Wednesday calling on them to identify the bill's actual "real-world impact."

"We have the highest inflation in 31 years, employers are struggling to fill a record number of job openings, and the current draft of the reconciliation bill uses gimmicks to cover up well over $1 trillion in spending," U.S. Chamber Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley said on the group’s website.

"It would be the height of irresponsibility for Members of Congress to vote on this multi-trillion-dollar tax-and-spend bill with no clear understanding of its true cost or the real-world impact of the policies."

President Joe Biden is expected to sign a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill on Monday. The bill provides funding for physical infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges, water pipes, and broadband internet.

Progressives also are trying to pass a social spending bill — expanding health, child, elder care, and climate-change programs — with a price tag of $1.75 trillion.

The Chamber of Commerce said the reconciliation bill has provisions that "disguise the true cost of the bill." The provisions essentially expire after a certain amount of time, but then could be extended – a tactic that makes the amount looks smaller than the actual total cost.

The group said it is impossible to have an accurate understanding of the budgetary and economic implications of the spending legislation without an analysis of:

  • What is the impact of the legislation on near-term inflation, especially given that so much of the spending and tax cuts will occur in the next two to five years?
  • What is the impact of the legislation on workforce participation, especially given the large amounts of transfer payments that are not connected to work?
  • What is the true cost of the bill if you do not include the arbitrary sunsets of tax and spending provisions that are clearly intended to be permanent?
  • What impact will these arbitrary sunsets, especially with childcare and pre-K, have on state governments and the private sector?

Biden’s Build Back Better legislation will pass in the House, but a 50-50 Senate is another story. Democrats need all members to approve so that the bill can be passed via reconciliation.

Moderate Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who has been a leading voice to cut Biden's spending bill in half, now might want to table the spending bill due to inflation.

The New York Times reported that Manchin called these provisions "shell games," with the actual cost of the reconciliation bill possibly being double the amount being discussed.

The Labor Department announced Wednesday that prices for U.S. consumers jumped 6.2% in October compared with a year earlier as surging costs for food, gas and housing left Americans grappling with the highest inflation rate since 1990.

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