Joe Biden is on the verge of a huge legislative victory and Republicans will be unable to do anything to stop it.
Biden has finally been able to knock enough heads together in the Democratic caucus to get close to a historic agreement for the government to spend nearly $2 trillion it doesn’t have on social programs that may or may not improve the lives of millions of people.
Then again, the spending may unleash an extraordinary level of inflation that would make everyone’s life miserable — most of all, those who are set to benefit from Biden’s beneficence with our money.
When the negotiations over the Build Back Better bill started among Democrats in Congress, Senator Bernie Sanders and the radicals wanted a back-breaking, budget-busting $6 trillion spending extravaganza. Biden and a few other less insanely radical Democrats were able to get Sanders to pull back to $3.5 trillion. Then, Joe Manchin stepped in and nearly blew the whole deal up over his demands that the bill cost no more than $1.5 trillion.
Biden — who always favored spending big over spending smart — gritted his teeth and pared down the $3.5 trillion proposal to its current $2 trillion target.
By reducing the number to something closer to what the moderates want, Biden risked the support of the radicals who are now going to be forced to accept about half of the revolutionary changes they wanted. But Biden’s begging was apparently effective. He pleaded with the radicals that his presidency was a goner unless he passed some kind of big spending bill.
The radicals will grumble and snipe a lot but will likely accede to Biden’s wishes.
What’s in the bill and what was taken out?
A national four-week paid family and medical leave plan, down from the initially proposed 12 weeks.
Universal pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds. The federal government would pay for the entirety of the program for the first three years.
A one-year extension of the child tax credit. Originally expanded under the Covid relief bill, the credit has resulted in parents getting direct cash payments from the IRS for their kids.
For those using Medicare, $800 vouchers to help cover annual dental costs. The original proposal would have expanded Medicare coverage to include dental care.
Funding for child care centers to offset the cost for families and reinforce the industry’s workforce, made up mostly of women of color.
There will be no expansion of Medicare aside from the dental vouchers, no universal community college funding, no Clean Electricity Performance Program, which would have forced conversion to solar, wind, or other renewable energy, and no tax hikes on corporations.
The “no corporate tax increase” may prove to be a problem. Senator Joe Manchin has been insisting that the multi-trillion bill be fully funded. That’s not likely to happen without something being done on the revenue side.
Democrats are aiming to sell Manchin and Sinema on a roughly $2 trillion bill that tackles climate action, expanding paid family leave, education and child care, paid for as much as possible by increasing taxes on corporations and wealthy Americans. They are unlikely to raise income or corporate tax rates due to opposition from Sinema, but Democrats are proposing workarounds to establish a corporate minimum tax and levy billionaires’ assets.
Unless Manchin or Sinema find religion and refuse to spend an ungodly amount of money that our great-great-great-grandchildren will be paying off their entire lives, Biden will get his Build Back Better deal.