When you add up the C.B.O. scores for all the spending and tax cuts in the bill — which is to say, all of the things Democrats say will benefit Americans — you get about $2.2 trillion.
How did the legislation grow to $2.2 trillion?
The short answer is: paid leave. That measure alone added more than $200 billion to the cost of the bill. A variety of other cost adjustments, like for the housing and immigration provisions in the plan as well as other spending additions, did the rest.
What about SALT?
This is a tricky one. The other big change from Mr. Biden’s framework in the House bill is a rejiggering of a limit on the deductions individuals can take on federal income tax forms for the state and local taxes they pay. It’s a measure that would largely help high earners in high-tax states like New Jersey and New York. But oddly enough, it doesn’t add to the bill’s official cost — mostly because the measure is an accounting move, meant to deliver more goodies to certain taxpayers in the short term while taking some benefits away later.
Republicans capped the state and local tax deduction, known as SALT, at $10,000 per household in 2017. Under that bill, the cap would go away in 2026, meaning an unlimited deduction would return. The Democrats’ plan would increase the cap to $80,000 per household for most of the decade before dropping it to $10,000 again in 2031. That means households taking advantage of the deduction would get a significant tax break for the next several years, but a smaller one for the back half of the decade.
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The budget office found that the change would essentially be a financial wash for the government, raising a bit more over the decade than the current system, since SALT currently maintains a higher cap all decade instead of allowing the cap to disappear in 2025.
Some groups, like the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget in Washington, have chosen to break off just the early-year benefits of the SALT change and add them to the total cost. The Times isn’t doing that, in order to stay consistent with how we add up the costs and benefits of the rest of the bill, which are measured across the full decade.
Is this how the cost of the 2017 tax cuts was measured?
Mechanically, yes. Practically, no.
With both the 2017 law and this bill, we’re trying to add up the cost of the parts of the legislation meant to benefit people and companies. That’s the “price tag.”