Intercept makes questionable claim about infrastructure bill

November 18, 2021

By Tim Worstall

In a new piece, The Intercept claims that Biden’s signature infrastructure bill will be killed off by the partisan actions of the head of the Congressional Budget Office.

“Class warfare”, “The Republican economist”, “many right-wing economists “ “right-wing think tanks “. We can see where this is going.

The political problem is that the second big spending bill, the one on “social infrastructure” needs to go through using the budget reconciliation process. That’s the only way it can pass the Senate with only 50 votes. This, in turn, means that it cannot increase the budget deficit over a 10 year period. The alternative to this is crafting a bill that 60 Senators would vote for.

It’s the Congressional Budget Office that most people believe about the numbers, will the tax raises collect as much revenue as claimed? Will the spending be as limited as the bill says it will be? Do, in short, the sums add up to not increase that deficit?

“And Swagel, whose history indicates a deep antipathy for investments in social programs and climate resilience, “

He’s a Republican, that head of the CBO, so he’s going to be mean to our plans and sums. Look!

“And earlier this year, the CBO came under intense fire from congressional Democrats and labor activists for its scoring of a proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. That score, which found that an increase in the minimum wage would increase the federal deficit and result in the loss of over 1 million jobs,”

Maybe that’s actually true?

“But a CBO assessment released Monday of the title containing provisions to enhance the IRS’s enforcement power significantly undershot a Treasury analysis that found the provision would raise nearly $300 billion to $400 billion in revenue in the next 10 years. By comparison, the CBO found that the measure would raise only $120 billion,”

Maybe that is too?

Also, maybe it’s not, who knows? But the entire article is an attack on the probity of the CBO. We might assume because The Intercept thinks that the scorings given will show that the infrastructure bill sums don’t add up and therefore either less spending must be done or the budget reconciliation method cannot be used.

This is naked political partisanship and being undertaken by the trashing of a reputation rather than any objective analysis. There is nothing else here than “He’ll score the bill badly because he’s a Republican” and we all deserve a better politics, a better media, than that.

The Intercept was set up as a charitable foundation to improve media coverage. Being in the bag for whatever is the latest progressive political demand might not be achieving that. The site is in the listings of the top 500 media outlets, gains 5 million visits a month.

The Intercept is claiming that the CBO’s mathematics is being driven by partisan political concerns. More proof is required for that to stand up than merely that the director is a Republican.


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