On Wednesday, March 31, 2021, President Biden will be in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, to deliver a speech that will describe his vision and major next steps for his economic agenda.
Last week several publications wrote of major plans the Biden Administration is considering for inclusion in the President’s detailed FY 2022 budget to be released sometime in the next month. There is the potential for one or even two reconciliation bills with one major initiative focused on “infrastructure” and other major proposals seeking major human service changes. Some proposals could total $3 trillion in long-term spending and $1 trillion in tax reductions, with some of that cost likely to be offset by tax increases on upper-income taxpayers and corporations.
The infrastructure bill would go beyond transitional transportation and highway construction funding that is currently dependent on the underfunded highway trust fund. This plan would include energy-related needs, water systems, expansion of telecommunication networks including rural broadband, energy-efficient housing, improvements in the electric grid, and proposals to retrofit buildings for energy efficiency. This last part could include the nation’s education building infrastructure.
The other plan would likely address humans service needs. Part of this proposal would be to make permanent the Child Tax Credit (CTC) calculated to lift millions of children out of poverty—something CWLA supports. Other parts could include proposals to expand child care and universal prekindergarten (another CWLA priority), $100 billion to expand low-income housing, an expansion of family and medical leave policy, and free community college.
There appears to be uncertainty on whether this would be one package or two. One strategy would be to get bipartisan support that could garner 60 Senate votes around an infrastructure bill. Under this scenario, the human service elements would travel under a reconciliation bill that would require only 50 votes (plus the Vice President). Any package that includes significant tax increases on high-income families and corporations and Wall Street investors (all things that are under consideration) would likely have difficulty getting 10 Senate Republicans on board.
An additional strategy to help pay for parts of the proposals could include efforts to control prescription drug prices. Some House members like proposals that would allow HHS to negotiate drug prices. Such a strategy could potentially save Medicare billions of dollars, which would be used to pay for other policies. In the last Congress, a proposal by the late Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) had been calculated by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to save over $400 billion.