Lankford Warns Infrastructure Bill is Not Paid for and Will Add Billions to the Debt
CLICK HERE to watch Lankford’s budget point of order on YouTube.
WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) this evening raised a budget point of order before final passage of the “infrastructure” bill to make the case that this bill will add billions to the debt and is “paid for” with budget gimmicks. The final vote for the bill could happen later tonight.
Lankford has consistently raised his concerns with the overspending in this bill and the proposed $3.5 trillion “budget” resolution. Lankford has raised the alarm on the skyrocketing national debt—now leaping past $28 trillion—for years.
On the Senate floor last week, Lankford broke down the debt and deficit spending into simpler terms. He said that one million seconds is about 11 and a half weeks. One billion seconds is 31 and a half years. One trillion seconds is 31,688 years. Lankford also participated in a press conference with Senate Republicans to discuss the reckless tax and spending spree that will add to inflation, which is already starting to impact Oklahomans, especially those on a fixed income.
Lankford continues to note that the $1 trillion bill is phase one of Democrats over $4 trillion package which President Biden confirmed in his Statement of Administrative Policy in support of this bill, “It has never been more important for us to invest in strengthening our infrastructure and competitiveness, and do so in a way that creates the good-paying union jobs of the future, addresses long-standing racial and economic injustice, and helps to fight the climate crisis.”
The point of order was supported by the Americans for Tax Reform, Heritage Action, National Taxpayers Union, Club for Growth, Americans for Limited Government, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, Americans for Prosperity, American Conservative Union, and FreedomWorks.
I want to set some context of where we are financially this point. Everyone knows last year the difficulties of COVID-19 and what happened and the extraordinary measures that were taken to be able to offset the economic damage that was significant. CBO, as of July 21 of this year, estimates the federal deficit for 2021 will be $3 trillion. Much of that based on what was done last year during an emergency time period. That’s 13.5 percent of GDP; that deficit in 2021 will be the second-largest since the World War II, since 1945.
Now this year in the year that we’re finally working our way out of COVID-19, though still taking it seriously, this year there’s $2 trillion in additional spending in March of this year. There’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan that’s in front of us now. And a $3.5 trillion tax-and-spend bill that apparently we start in two days. Listen, I’ve been told over and over again throughout the course of this debate that the infrastructure package would be paid for. And then later I was told, well, mostly paid for. And then CBO came out a couple of days ago and said a quarter trillion dollars of it is not paid for, a quarter trillion dollars according to CBO’s estimates.
To make matters worse, part of the rest of it that CBO does estimate is still areas where I would look at it and go that’s a pretty shaky estimation. For instance, the unused unemployment benefits from earlier this year. That’s an area that I look at and I think, okay, if you’re taking unemployment benefits that were borrowed with debt money, then not spending them and then later go back and grabbing them and saying now we’re spending them and they’re quote, unquote, paid for, that would be the equivalent of me taking out a $20,000 car loan but yet buying only a $15,000 car. So using the extra $5,000 to buy cat food and donuts after that and say it was paid for. It’s not paid for. The extra $5,000 would go to debt reduction. In this case it’s $53 billion, not $5,000. That area is total debt spending as well. Though CBO may score it, it’s really not there.
One of my favorite areas of scoring in this I find fascinating in the course of this conversation. This bill mandates the sale of over 87 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Almost the identical amount is assumed to be collected from the sale of 87 million barrels of oil to be able to pay for the electric car charging stations. So literally this bill sells oil to then pay for the electric car charging stations.
This bill also delays to get scored for this, delays a Medicare Part D regulation that had already been delayed already. My concern is this: we’re not paying attention to the most basic element. This is a quarter trillion dollars unpaid for according to CBO. And many other areas are pretty shaky pay-fors in this.
My simple suggestion is this. Let’s do infrastructure, but let’s do the infrastructure we can afford. If we can’t afford an extra quarter trillion of this trillion-dollar bill, then let’s back it up to $750 billion. It should be pretty straightforward. If we can’t pay for that extra amount, we shouldn’t do that extra amount.