Biden Claims Democrats Have Reached 'Historic' Deal on Spending Bill
15:56 GMT 28.10.2021 (Updated: 16:27 GMT 28.10.2021)
Biden's sweeping "Build Back Better" agenda has long been the subject of heated debates within the Democratic party, with the progressives demanding more liberal spending, and the moderates voicing concerns that the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package combined with the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill may be too much.
US President Joe Biden on Thursday touted what he described as the Democratic party's "historic" deal on the economic framework of the "Build Back Better" massive spending bill.
"Today, I'm pleased to announce that after months of tough and thoughtful negotiations [...] I know we have an historic economic framework," Biden said. "It's fiscally responsible, and fully paid for."
According to Biden, the new $1.75 trillion spending proposal "will fundamentally change the lives of millions of people for the better". Initially, his reconciliation package was even more ambitious, but the Biden administration moved to scale it back to alleviate disagreements within the Democratic party over the spending plans that were deemed to be too much for some moderate members.
When he was leaving the Capitol Hill on Thursday after discussing the changes with the Democratic lawmakers, Biden said he thinks that "we're going to be in good shape."
Taking a significant step away from what was an ambitious plan to pour $3.5 trillion into the implementation of the Build Back Better agenda, Biden is now offering a smaller package of $1.75 trillion.
According to the framework's description provided by the White House
, the plan will include free preschool programmes for all three-four-year-old kids, tax credits, and other types of aid for low-income families, child care and elder care benefits, along with addressing climate change and healthcare issues. In regard to the latter, Biden's plan pledges to strengthen the Affordable Care Act and reduce the premiums for nine million Americans, close the Medicare Coverage Gap, and expand Medicare so that it covers hearing benefits.
"The Build Back Better Framework will set the US on course to meet our climate targets, create millions of good-paying jobs, and grow our economy from the bottom up and the middle out", Biden said on his Twitter account, touting the framework. "It’s fully paid for by asking corporations and the wealthiest to reward work, not wealth".
The White House description of the framework also underlines that the plan is "paid for" by "asking more from the very largest corporations and the wealthiest Americans". According to the package, no one making under $400,000 will pay "a penny more in taxes".
The Washington Post pointed out in its Thursday report
that in an apparent move to attract more essential Democratic votes in Congress - particularly from moderates such as Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin - Biden has yielded and conceded some of his own priorities, like fuller expansion of Medicaid and paid family leave.
With no Republican support plausible for the Build Back Better package in Congress, Sinema and Manchin are yet to reveal their stance on the new proposal rolled out by the Biden administration.
After the framework was unveiled by the White House, Manchin said that everything is "in the hands of the House", while Sinema stated that "after months of productive, good-faith negotiations with President Biden and the White House, we have made significant progress on the proposed budget reconciliation package". Both have not clearly expressed whether they support or oppose Biden's proposal.
In exchange for their votes in the Senate - where they are much needed, given the razor-thin congressional majorities - Sinema and Manchin requested that some policies be changed, particularly voicing concerns about how the Biden administration plans to make the rich pay their "fair share" of taxes.
Proposed changes to the tax code in order to make it happen have also drawn predictable criticism from conservatives and billionaires themselves, with Tesla CEO Elon Musk and former President Donald Trump immediately speaking out against the so-called Billionaire Income Tax set to affect some 700-800 Americans with assets or incomes of more than $100 million a year.
27 October 2021, 15:58 GMT
Per the Wapo, the White House eventually ended up backing away from the plan to apply the Billionaire Income Tax, proposing a special five percent rate for Americans with an income above $10 million and an additional three percent surtax for those above $25 million.
In order to finally push the Biden agenda through Congress, Democrats will have to be united in their endorsement of his spending plans, since their GOP counterparts have been adamant in their criticism of what they dubbed "a reckless spending spree" back when the package was estimated at $3.5 trillion. The Democrats still have to proceed with another bill, a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package intended to pour money into the nation's roads, pipes, bridges, and Internet connection.
It remains to be seen whether Biden's new suggestions will secure enough support from the progressives, who have insisted on more ambitious spending to be greenlighted before the infrastructure bill can proceed.