Air Force One flew President Joe Biden to Hartford on Oct. 15 where the President advocated for legislation dense with key campaign promises and hard sought goals. The Build Back Better Plan, endorsed and drafted by the Biden Administration, aims to provide the United States with COVID-19 relief, economic relief and an infrastructure blueprint. The plan, divided into three separate bills: the American Rescue Plan, the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan, is proposed to cost at least an estimated $3.5 trillion over the next decade. A controversial $350 billion price tag each year.
On March 11, the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, the only bill of the three to be signed into law, spanned areas of relief such as stimulus checks, unemployment payments, vaccine and testing funding and tax credits for children. $130 billion allocated for funding schools provided school districts like Monroe with grants for new job positions. Although President Biden had declared his hope for the plan to pass on bipartisan bases, the American rescue bill passed strictly on party lines and without essential promises to the public like an increase to the federal minimum wage.
The American Jobs Plan, a second bill to the Build Back Better Plan, pitched the idea of, “a transformative effort to overhaul the nation’s economy.” Physical infrastructure at the forefront, it would spend sums on roads and transportation systems, water pipes and broadband. The bill’s priority is to create millions of jobs whilst addressing climate change, moving toward 100 percent clean power by 2035 and ensuring money used to build the nation’s infrastructure “prevents, reduces, and withstands the impacts of the climate crisis,”.
The Biden administration released its proposal for the third portion of the Build Back Better Plan, the American Families Plan in April. This bill would increase federal spending in areas such as childcare, pre-kindergarten, health insurance assistance and national tuition-free community college (already provided by 20 states). Additionally, if passed, the US will offer paid family and medical leave for the first time in history.
“The bottom line is this: when you give working families a break we’re not just raising their quality of life, we’re positioning our country to compete in the future,” Biden said at the Capitol Child Development Center in Hartford. At the Center, promoting components of the Build Back Better plan that focus on investing in early childhood programs.
The Build Back Better Act, a bill created to negotiate certain aspects of the American Families Plan, is allowing Democrats to make due on campaign promises. These include climate change goals, affordable housing and immigration reform amongst other pivotal issues. Most importantly, the bill addresses the financing of the American Families Plan by increasing taxes on high-income citizens and increasing the state and local income tax deduction limit from $10,000.
The Build Back Better Act is under negotiation in the House of Representatives between moderate and progressive Democrats, who have diverged amongst an already polarized and partisan Congress.
“I want to do a tax overhaul. One thing you understand that all Democrats agreed on, there’s not a lot of things we all agree on, is that the 2017 tax cuts are unfair and weighted toward the high end. Let’s fix that. That’s the reconciliation,” said Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), who has openly opposed the cost and broadness of the plan.
Biden met with Senators Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) in an effort to negotiate a plan nearly half the cost of $3.5 trillion. A package up to $1.9 trillion would allow Democrats to achieve some of their most sought-after priorities; expansion of Medicare, universal prekindergarten, and billions to address climate change. Yet, some progressives argue for more.
“Ah yes, the Conservative Dem position: ‘You can either feed your kid, recover from your c-section, or have childcare so you can go to work – but not all three’,” tweeted Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) commenting on the proposed cut to the plan.
Regardless of political uproar, the Build Back Better Plan remains an ambitious look into Biden’s vision for the country post a pandemic consumed America. The plan reveals a lack of unity that Biden had called for in his inaugural speech on Jan. 6.
“These bills, in my view, are literally about competitiveness versus complacency, about opportunity versus decay, and about leading the world or continuing to let the world move by us,” Biden remarked before leaving Connecticut.