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Tipsheet

Romney: I Don't Think My Friends Manchin and Sinema Will Go Along with WH's 'Dishonest' CBO Denial

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

I had Sen. Mitt Romney on my radio show this week for a wide-ranging discussion – from DC spending bills to fiscal responsibility, to a reportedly forthcoming US diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics, to Thanksgiving traditions. Among other things, I asked the Utah Republican why he supported the bipartisan infrastructure bill and why he believes that spending is essential, while the Democrats' proposed reconciliation spending spree is reckless. You can listen to his answers below. But perhaps the newsiest nugget was Romney's condemnation of the White House and House Democrats who appear to be moving toward disregarding a rumored, imminent Congressional Budget Office analysis showing that the lower chamber's bill falls hundreds of billions of dollars short of confirming the Biden administration's claim that the legislation is "fully paid for." As we touched upon yesterday, even so-called House 'moderates' are saying that they're unperturbed by this expected and enormous gap – as the White House circulates explicit talking points that the non-partisan CBO doesn't know what it's doing: 

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Freire, a GOP aide, adds, "how quickly we've moved from 'I won't deficit spend' and 'it costs nothing,' to 'we'll get a score from CBO,' to 'ignore the score from CBO, whatever it is, whenever it comes out.'" Indeed. It's also preposterous for partisan actors to claim that they understand the supposedly correct scoring of legislation better than the experts whose job it is to score such things. Democrats fetishize expertise, except when expertise stands in the way of whatever they want. I'm not saying CBO is infallible; I'm saying it's absurd and unserious to loudly and endlessly proclaim that a massive spending bill is entirely paid for (and will "cost zero" or whatever) while prattling about your fealty to "the experts," only to turn around and wave away experts' assessment that your repeated policy promises are untrue. And they rejected an offer to run the numbers past another group of experts (JCT), which brings us to Romney, who is clearly unimpressed with Democrats' acrobatics:

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ROMNEY: That level of dishonesty is not going to sail with the American people. They’re — they — the American people will look at those numbers and they’ll recognize that, in fact, even if you do the accounting the way the Democrats want you to, it’s not paid for. And if you do it honestly, it’s really not paid for. And when I say honestly, it’s this. When they have a program that they put in place and they say it’s going to expire after three years, but then they count as they revenue 10 years of revenue. That’s just not honest. And so, if you take that program and you run it the full 10 years and match it with your revenues over 10 years, then the gap you’re talking about is in the trillions of dollars...And that’s why I think ultimately you’re going to get people like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema and they’re going to say, hey, guys, that’s just not honest. We just can’t do it.

I don't think that constitutes a Romney prediction that 'Manchinema' will eventually kill any BBB legislation. But Romney, who has gotten to know those two moderate Democrats well, seems to think that whatever the House votes on, the headwinds in the Senate will be much more substantial than what we've seen from House (alleged) moderates' posturing. These are the same House "moderates," mind you, who appear to be comfortable blowing off CBO, denying a huge pay-for shortfall, and raising taxes on the middle class while serving up a big tax break to millionaires. I'll leave you with a poll that shows why Manchin probably doesn't give a damn about leftists stalking and harassing him to pressure him to bend to their will. His stand against them is helping him in West Virginia, where he's polling 56 net points stronger than President Biden is in his state: 

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