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Thune: South Dakotans Aren’t Fooled By Democrats’ Illogical Math

“American taxpayers are going to be paying a heavy price for this legislation for a very long time to come.”

October 6, 2021

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today called out the Biden administration for falsely claiming that Democrats’ reckless $3.5 trillion tax-and-spending spree would actually cost zero dollars. Thune noted that the revenue Democrats are projecting to raise through doubling the size of the IRS and tracking how law-abiding Americans spend their money is overly optimistic and will not come close to covering the massive $3.5 trillion price tag.


Thune’s remarks (as prepared for delivery):


“Mr. President, on September 25, President Biden tweeted, and I quote, ‘My Build Back Better Agenda costs zero dollars.’


“According to the president, a series of new, permanent entitlements and a massive expansion of government is going to cost … zero dollars.

“And the president has been doubling down on that claim.


“On Monday he once again tweeted, ‘The fact of the matter is my Build Back Better Agenda costs $0.’


“Well, no, Mr. President, the fact of the matter is that your Build Back Better Agenda costs $3.5 trillion – at least.


“The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget – where the president’s treasury secretary served on the board before joining the administration – estimates the cost at $5 trillion or more.


“But leaving that aside, even if the president has been merely trying to claim that his plan is fully paid for by tax hikes and other measures, to say that it would cost zero dollars is beyond ridiculous.


“Let’s say your college education was completely paid for by your parents.


“Did it then cost zero dollars?


“Of course not.


“It cost a lot of money – money that your parents likely were able to pay only because of a lot of hard work and sacrifices.


“Or what if you’ve saved up for a couple of years for your dream vacation, and now you have all the money you need, down to the cost of your Ubers and your hotel breakfasts?


“Does that mean your vacation is going to cost zero dollars? 


“Of course it doesn’t.


“The same thing applies when it comes to the Democrats’ legislation.


“Even if Democrats had all the money they need to pay for every dollar of their massive spending spree, the price tag still wouldn’t be zero dollars.


“The price tag for this proposal is at least $3.5 trillion – and likely much more.


“Presumably what the president has been referring to when he makes the absurd claim that his spending bill will cost zero dollars is his assertion that his bill won’t add to the debt.


“The problem is, that isn’t true either.


“Because the pay-fors in Democrats’ bill won’t actually pay for the bill in its entirety.


“The tax hikes in Democrats’ legislation will actually only pay for about two-thirds of the bill’s ostensible $3.5 trillion price tag.


“And the other revenue-raising components in the bill won’t make up the difference.


“And what are those other revenue-raising components?


“Well, a substantial part is increased IRS enforcement.


“Democrats claim that they can get $700 billion by closing the tax gap – the difference between taxes owed and taxes paid.


“Now, there’s no question that individuals should not get away with cheating on their taxes.


“And there are undoubtedly reasonable measures we can take to strengthen enforcement and narrow the gap.


“Unfortunately, Democrats haven’t proposed reasonable measures.


“Instead, Democrats are proposing to (a) double the size of the IRS, and (b) have the IRS snoop on Americans’ bank accounts.


“That’s right.


“Democrats want to double the size of the IRS and force banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions to provide details of individuals’ spending to the federal government.


“Under the administration’s proposal, once your withdrawals or deposits for the year exceed a certain amount – $600 if the president has his way – your bank or credit union would be forced to report the details of your activity to the federal government.


“So the federal government could end up with a record of every time you eat dinner out, or pay your rent, or buy a new jacket or toaster oven.


“The invasion of privacy is staggering.


“We already have a mechanism in place to allow the IRS to view large transactions that might indicate potential criminal activity.


“We do not need the government monitoring every purchase law-abiding Americans make from the App Store, or how many times Americans buy a cup of coffee.


“Not to mention the incredible demands this reporting requirement would place on community banks and credit unions.


“Banks and credit unions around the country are worried about how they would manage to comply with the bill’s reporting requirements.


“And, Mr. President, let’s not forget that the agency that would be receiving all this information has a reputation for mishandling private data.


“In fact, the IRS was subject to a massive leak or hack of private taxpayer information mere months ago – information that somehow ended up in the hands of advocates at ProPublica.


“And neither Treasury nor the IRS has provided meaningful follow-up about the data breach, much less any accountability.


“Giving an already troubled agency access to reams of additional private taxpayer information is a very bad idea.


“And, Mr. President, even if we granted that this massive invasion of privacy was worth it, the truth is that all this additional enforcement still wouldn’t provide the money Democrats are claiming it would provide.


“Democrats claim that they can get $700 billion from the bill’s increased tax enforcement measures.


“The reality is likely to be more than $200 billion lower, according to an analysis from the Wharton School.


“So Democrats would be doubling the size of an agency with clear management issues and implementing a staggering invasion of taxpayer privacy to pay for a tiny fraction of their spending spree.


“As I said, Mr. President, no taxpayer, at any income level, should be able to avoid paying the taxes he or she owes.


“And I’ve actually signed on to co-sponsor legislation that would look at responsible ways to strengthen IRS enforcement efforts.


“But Democrats’ proposal to double the size of the IRS and track taxpayers’ spending should never have seen the light of day.


“Even former IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, who served under Presidents Obama and Trump, said he thought that $80 billion for the agency was too much.


“Mr. President, taken together, IRS enforcement on steroids and Democrats’ massive tax hikes will still not be enough to pay for their multi-trillion-dollar legislation.


“Partly because the tax hikes may not bring in as much money as Democrats claim.


“But also because Democrats have used a lot of budget gimmickry to disguise the true costs of their bill.


“The standard method for analyzing the cost of a bill is a 10-year window.


“So you look at what your bill would cost over 10 years, and that’s how you get the cost of your bill.


“Well, that’s not exactly what Democrats are doing.


“That child allowance in Democrats’ bill?


“Democrats have only counted the cost of that allowance through 2025.


“That allows Democrats to claim that the cost of that provision is around $500 billion – instead of the $1.1 trillion the measure would actually cost over a decade.


“And all those tax hikes are of course just for covering the costs of the bill over a 10-year – or shorter – window. 


“But in reality the new government benefits Democrats are putting in place are not going to expire in 10 years.


“This bill is effectively instituting multiple permanent entitlement programs.


“And the long-term cost of those programs is not going to be covered by the tax hikes Democrats are currently proposing – as massive as those tax hikes are.


“Mr. President, I’ve talked a lot about the dollar costs of this bill – which are massive and not fully paid for.


“I could spend just as long talking about the bill’s other costs.


“Like the fact that this bill is likely to cost workers jobs and opportunities by increasing the tax burden on American businesses and depressing economic growth.


“Or the cost to American families, who are going to be facing higher energy bills and higher prices as a result of this legislation. 


“But I’m going to stop here for today.


“One thing is for sure, Mr. President, Democrats’ massive spending spree is going to cost a lot more than zero dollars.


“And American taxpayers are going to be paying a heavy price for this legislation for a very long time to come.”