Build Back Better would make Biden’s first 14 months more expensive than Obama’s entire presidency

by Jonathan Bydlak, Director, R Street Governance Program (January 13, 2022)

It is hard to overestimate the true scale of the Biden administration’s proposed fiscal agenda. While the COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated that government help businesses and Americans survive while the economy adapts, the Biden administration and Democrats in Congress are looking to go one step further and fundamentally reimagine swaths of the U.S. workforce and economy. This puts them on pace to eclipse all spending increases seen under previous administrations and congresses.

And it is entirely unsustainable.

Below is a summary of spending milestones during the first year of the Biden administration:

The American Rescue Plan cost $1.8 trillion. Then, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act—the so-called “BIF”—tacked on another $1.2 trillion, of which $765 billion was new spending.

Now the Build Back Better Act (BBB) would spend at least another $1.6 trillion, and that doesn’t include phony sunsets and other gimmicks that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found would more than double the cost over 10 years.

Sum it all up, and the Biden presidency has already added $2.65 trillion in new spending, and with BBB would total at least $4.25 trillion in little more than a year.

That is more than President Barack Obama spent in eight years in office.

CongressPresidentNew Spending ($)
* Including the Build Back Better Act


While the debate over spending may seem familiar, the nation’s finances are truly in uncharted territory. In a time when inflation is creeping higher and consumer confidence is heading lower, it is time for policymakers to rethink their spending plans and begin to act responsibly.

-Jonathan Bydlak, Director, R Street Governance Program




Stay in the know. Sign up for the R Street Newsletter.