House Republicans Institute Dynamic Scoring; Waive Debt-Ceiling Votes

Included among its questionable first actions in the 108th Congress, the Republican-led House Ways and Means Committee made two new troubling rule changes that will govern House legislation around the federal budget.

Dynamic scoring
The first, the use of “dynamic scoring” to calculate the cost of tax proposals, is perhaps the most troubling. Dynamic scoring refers to the factoring in of possible increases in economic growth when “scoring,” or calculating, the amount of lost revenue a tax cut will result in. Advocates of dynamic scoring argue that the practice offers a more realistic view of the likely budget effects of tax cuts by incorporating increased business activity that they argue accompanies lower tax rates. Opponents point out that dynamic scoring masks the true costs of tax cuts by relying on the potential for an increase in revenue that many economists argue is unlikely.

Neither the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), nor the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), the two offices that provide analyses and revenue effects of House and Senate bills, uses dynamic scoring. Since the Senate also does not utilize dynamic scoring in calculating the costs of its bills, a comparison of House and Senate versions of tax bills will likely prove difficult over the course of this Congress.

Debt Ceiling Votes
In a marked departure from their long-time view of the debt ceiling, House Republicans introduced a rule for the 108th Congress eliminating the requirement that a separate vote to raise the debt ceiling be taken when a tax or spending bill that requires an increase in the limit on the country’s debt is voted on in the House. Arguing that support for increasing the debt ceiling is a logical assumption when a Member votes for a bill that will necessitate such an increase, the House Ways and Means Committee decided to do away with a vote they described as redundant.

According to Campaign for America’s Future, these same Republicans were fierce supporters of this separate vote until recently, arguing that it forced Democratic supporters of increased federal spending to be held accountable for increasing the debt.

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