While some members claimed the bill was entirely covered by existing of dedicated funding, much of the bill, or $351 billion, is deficit spending. Moreover, the study said that any benefits from the bill would not be realized until 2050.
“Unlike the infrastructure compromise outlined in June,” the report says, “we estimate that this bill would increase government debt by 2050. Even with current government borrowing rates being at historical low values, higher government debt mitigates the positive impact of public investment, as U.S. and international savings are diverted from private capital investment toward public debt.”
It is common for members to loosely promise that bills will “ultimately pay for themselves” but we are now in record and crippling levels of debt as well as rising inflation. It may ultimately not matter to the public to add another $351 billion to the pile but the Wharton analysis can add a degree of clarity on the choice.
The bill is an exercise of “dynamic scoring” which can be used as a sleight of hand used in Washington to claim economic effects that are difficult to show or disprove.
Notably, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is citing the support of Republican senators as proof of that the claim is correct: On “Fox News Sunday,” Buttigieg insisted “You don’t see the number of conservative Republicans supporting this bill that you do unless it’s fiscally responsible.”
That is a curious claim that seems to backhand his own party on economic responsibility.
None of this is likely to matter. The wonderful thing about dynamic scoring is that there really is no real numerical or quantifiable score. It is the “plausible deniability” defense of economics.