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Budget Hawk Urges Congress to Reject ‘Extenders’ to Get Reconciliation Deal

October 21, 2021 by Dan McCue
The East Front of the U.S, Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON – With Congressional Democrats reportedly within days of an agreement on a slimmed down reconciliation spending package, a well known independent budget hawk is urging them not to resort to “blatant budget gimmicks” to move the initiative toward passage.

Specifically, Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, and her members are concerned about reports that lawmakers are considering extending the current expanded Child Tax Credit for just a single year, while expanding health coverage policies that build on the Affordable Care Act for only three years. 

These temporary measures, the group said, would likely cost nearly $300 billion on paper, but they could set the stage for substantial additional costs once the proposed extensions expire.

“These proposals don’t actually shrink the package; they just shorten it,” MacGuineas wrote in a statement published on the group’s website.

“Negotiators should start prioritizing, targeting and finding creative ways to do more for less,” she said.

The committee says it has come up with two “illustrative” packages — one coming in at $1.5 trillion, the other, $2.3 trillion — that show how to do just that while funding the Administration’s major initiatives.

“Relying on these gimmicks and games doesn’t make sense,” MacGuineas continued in her statement. “The most ardent supporters of these policies should reject a framework that puts their long-term fate in jeopardy to make room for lower priorities. And advocates of fiscal responsibility should reject it because it will create immense pressure for further borrowing.

“If the Child Tax Credit and health subsidies are the only expiring provisions in the bill, the full package could ultimately cost over $3 trillion and require over $1 trillion of borrowing, assuming unpaid-for extensions, including additional expirations, would balloon these costs further.

“The Build Back Better plan is supposed to make new transformative investment, not create a new extenders package,” MacGuineas said.

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue.

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