7 November 2021   2 comments

The Democratic Party needs to make a change in its strategy to pass the social services spending bill. The strategy has been to link that bill with the infrastructure bill and was dictated by the fear that the Democrats will lose control on Congress in the 2022 elections. The fear is legitimate since the party in power usually loses congressional seats in off-year elections. But the disarray of the Democrats has been palpable and the losses in 2022 appear to be a self-fulfilling prophecy because of the conflict in the party between “progressives” and moderates”. The decision to put everything in one bucket was deemed necessary to pass the entire bill in a process called “reconciliation” which avoided the possibility that the Republicans would filibuster the bill. Reconciliation only requires 51 votes; to overturn a filibuster requires 60 votes.

The difficulty is that the social spending bill is filled with proposals that appear to be very popular with the American public. National Public Radio listed the different parts of the “Build Back Better” plan which was estimated to cost about $3.5 trillion as originally proposed.

Education: $726 billion toward universal pre-k for 3 and 4-year-olds, child care for working families, tuition-free community college, investments in historically Black colleges and universities, and investments in primary care. (Details drafted by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee)

Immigration: $107 billion toward lawful permanent status for qualified immigrants, border security measures. (Judiciary Committee)

Health care: At least $1 billion in deficit reduction, with investments in paid family and medical leave, ACA expansion extension, expanding Medicare to include dental, vision and hearing benefits along with lowering the eligibility age. Also included are investments to address health care provider shortages, the expansion of the child tax credit, long-term care for seniors and people with disabilities, clean energy, manufacturing, and transportation tax incentives, housing incentives.

The following offsets are listed for these initiatives: corporate and international tax reform, taxes from high-income individuals, IRS tax enforcement, health care savings and the carbon polluter import fee. (Finance Committee)

Agriculture: $135 billion to go toward agriculture conservation, drought and forestry programs to reduce carbon emissions and prevent wildfires, climate research, debt relief, child nutrition, and funding for a Civilian Climate Corps. The budget outline aims to meet Biden’s goal of 80% clean electricity and 50% carbon emissions by 2030. (Agriculture Committee)

Housing: $332 billion for housing affordability, rental assistance, homeownership initiatives, revitalization projects, zoning, transit improvements and public housing investments. (Banking and Housing Committee)

Clean energy: $198 billion toward clean electricity payment program, financing for domestic manufacturing of clean energy and auto supply chain technologies, federal procurement of energy efficient materials, and climate research. (Energy and Natural Resources Committee)

Climate initiatives: $67 billion toward funding low-income solar technologies, environmental justice investments in clean water affordability and access, EPA climate and research programs, federal investments in energy efficient buildings and green materials, and investments in clean vehicles. (Environment and Public Works Committee)

Homeland security: $37 billion toward improving cybersecurity infrastructure, border management investments, federal investments in green materials procurement. (Homeland Security Committee)

Investments in Native communities: $20.5 billion toward Native health programs and facilities, education, housing, energy, and language programs. (Indian Affairs Committee)

Small businesses: $25 billion toward small business access to credit, investment and markets. (Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee)

Veterans: $18 billion toward upgrading VA facilities. (Veterans Affairs Committee)

The problem with the Democratic strategy is that all these details get lost and the Republicans and the “moderate” Democrats all focus on the total bill with cries of “fiscal responsibility” (monumental hypocrisy given past budgets and the ease with which massive defense budgets are passed that do little to enhance national security).

The Democrats should break down the bill and propose single bills for each issue. It is a risky strategy but one which may yield long-term benefits. Senator Joe Manchin may vote against the climate initiative bill but he would likely vote for the health care bill. And the Republicans would have to vote unanimously against every single one of the bills which would make them incredibly vulnerable in future elections. How would a Senator from Iowa (like Senator Grassley) vote against an agricultural bill?

It is time for the Democrats to stop running scared from the 2022 election. Bring the bills to the table and let the American people decide what is important to them. I suspect that the people would overwhelmingly favor the Democratic proposals.

Posted November 7, 2021 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

2 responses to “7 November 2021

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  1. Finally, a breakthrough idea! Tweet this on to your reps in Congress!


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