Cedric Richmond, a senior adviser to President Biden, insisted Sunday that the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill will cost "zero" due to tax hikes on the wealthy but lamented that critics of the bill are getting too hung up on the price tag.
During an appearance on "Fox News Sunday," Richmond, who serves as director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, said Biden intends to negotiate with moderate Democrats like Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia to lower the price of the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill that progressives are trying to link to the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill. Richmond received pushback from Fox News host Chris Wallace after making the controversial claim that the reconciliation bill won’t cost anything.
"At the end of the day, Chris, I think what’s important for people to understand is that this piece of legislation costs zero," he said. "We’re going to pay for it all by raising taxes on the very wealthy and big corporations."
"I’ve gotta stop you there, it doesn’t cost zero," Wallace interjected. "Now, you can pay for it either by borrowing it or you can pay for it by raising taxes on corporations or the wealthy, but it doesn’t cost zero."
Richmond continued, "At the end of the day it will cost zero because we’re going to pay for it. Now, if you go back and look at the Trump tax cuts, which weren’t paid for, they cost billions and billions, but we’re going to pay for everything we spend here."
Wallace pushed back, arguing that "the fact that you're raising people's taxes is a cost. … If it’s a $2 trillion spending plan, net-net it costs $2 trillion."
"Well, I’m not necessarily sure about that, Chris," Richmond responded. "And that’s why we will make sure all of the Democrats are involved in how we shape it. But everyone’s worried about a top number. … This is really not about politics or process, it’s about purpose and accomplishing and meeting the needs of the American people."
Moderate Democrats were outraged Friday after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., declined to bring the bipartisan infrastructure bill to a vote, hoping to buy more time for negotiations with progressive Democrats, who have vowed to vote against the bill if it does not move in tandem with the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill.