The top Republican on the House Budget Committee is raising concerns that the Biden administration may be violating the law by not releasing proper "PAYGO" scorecards, which account for the deficit impact of government spending in certain new laws.
The "Pay-As-You-Go-Act" (PAYGO) requires the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to "publish and regularly update" scorecards that account for the deficit impact new spending. It then requires mandatory cuts – called "sequestration" – to government spending to offset that spending.
But, Rep. Jason Smith, R-Mo., says in a letter being sent to the OMB Wednesday that the agency hasn't published any reports on laws passed since President Biden took office. He said that amounts to the administration "failing to follow the law."
"OMB’s failure to provide updated balances of the PAYGO scorecards is extremely disconcerting. President Biden and Congressional Democrats have continuously pushed to enact record levels of spending this year even while the nation is experiencing the highest level of inflation in decades," Smith says in the letter.
He added: "Since it is clear that the Congressional Democrats’ newest $3.5 trillion spending plan will only exacerbate the already pending sequestration cuts, OMB should immediately fulfill its obligation of transparency to the American people and provide the first of what is a long overdue update on the balances of the PAYGO scorecards."
The OMB, meanwhile, counters that it's publishing it's reports the same way it normally does – with reports coming out roughly in January, May, September and December.
"OMB takes its responsibility to publish updates to the PAYGO scorecards seriously, and continues to publish these updates this year on a cadence consistent with prior years," an OMB spokesperson said.
The most recent PAYGO report from the OMB was published on April 16. It included information about six laws passed by the previous Congress and signed by former President Donald Trump on Jan. 5.
But that does not include any of the new spending under the Biden administration, most notable was the "American Rescue Plan" spending bill Democrats passed earlier this year via budget reconciliation.
Smith warned that that law itself will cause significant sequestration cuts that Americans should be aware of.
"This law alone triggers cuts to the Medicare program amounting to more than $500 billion over the next 10 years, including $36 billion next year," Smith wrote. "However, since the Biden Administration has failed to follow the law and publish PAYGO scorecards, Congress does not have an explicit accounting of the total magnitude of government spending additions made by Congressional Democrats and the White House."
"As the Biden Administration and Congressional Democrats move ahead with their plans for trillions more in new spending and debt, they should demonstrate a measure of accountability and provide transparency as it relates to the current balances of the PAYGO scorecards," Smith continued.
Democrats have said that they anticipate paying for the $3.5 trillion spending plan they are currently pushing with massive tax increases on the rich. But it is not clear exactly how much of that spending will actually be covered by increased revenues.
"I think rather than talking about the cost – because we will pay for more than half, maybe all of the legislation," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said at a press conference last week. "We will be taking some responsibility to pay for what is in there. So the cost for the future will be much lower than any 3.5."