What’s going on and what’s going on, as Democrats reshape Bill Biden
WASHINGTON (AP) – After months of talks, Democrats are closing in on agreement on programs and policies to be included in President Joe Biden’s massive plan to expand health and safety net programs and fight global warming climate.
The plan appears likely to include universal preschool, paid family leave and the continuation of a child tax credit that was increased earlier this year and applied to more families. Democrats are cutting some investments or shortening the time frame for these programs to fit into a budget of around $ 2,000 billion over 10 years, rather than the $ 3.5 trillion budget plan initially envisioned.
Still, Democrats hope the programs prove to be so popular that future congresses will continue to fund them for years to come. It seems unlikely that a Republican will support the measure.
The negotiations are fluid and the package is very fluid. It will also not be possible to fully assess the details before the publication of the legislative text. But here’s where the bill stands so far, according to lawmakers and aides:
– An increase in the child tax credit would continue for another year. As part of a COVID relief bill, Democrats increased the tax credit to $ 3,000 per child aged 6 to 17 and to $ 3,600 per child aged 5 and under. Limiting the program to one year would disappoint many of its supporters, but they hope the popularity of the program will push Congress to extend it for years to come. Budget hawks fear that a one-year extension is a budget tool that will reduce the cost of the program on paper, but hide its true costs, as lawmakers tend to continue programs rather than let them expire.
– Plans to expand Medicare to include dental, vision and hearing aids are being curtailed. Biden said he liked the idea, but with Sense’s objection. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, the proposal is “a litter.” Instead, Democrats, he said, plan to offer seniors an $ 800 voucher to access dental care as well as another hearing aid program that Sinema can support. However, the vision care component, Biden said, has been more difficult to resolve and there is no consensus yet.
– Scaling up Medicaid in a dozen states and providing grants that lower the cost of a participant’s “Obamacare” plans are also still part of the mix. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the health insurance elements of the bill would reduce the number of uninsured by about 3.9 million people over the next decade. Large increases in Medicaid and Affordable Care Act plans would be partially offset by a $ 2.8 million decrease in employment-based coverage.
– The United States would join a long list of countries with a paid family leave program that allows workers to take time off to give birth, care for a new child, or deal with a serious health problem in a child. Member of the family. But the 12 weeks of paid vacation that Biden had offered will likely be reduced by four, he said.
– Universal preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds and child care subsidies for the poorest and middle-income Americans are still in place. Biden’s plan calls on parents earning up to 150% of the state’s median income (about $ 115,000 nationally) to pay no more than 7% of their income for child care, families with them. poorer people benefiting from free childcare. He proposed a tax credit covering up to half a family’s expenses for child care, up to $ 4,000 for one child or $ 8,000 for two or more children.
– The free community college is likely over, although Biden is looking to increase the size of the Pell Grants to help pay for tuition.
– It also appears that a program seen as the cornerstone of Biden’s plan to tackle climate change has come out, in large part due to Manchin’s opposition. This program would have offered subsidies to power companies that increase clean energy production by 4% each year and fines for those that do not. Yet hundreds of billions of dollars are expected to be included for programs designed to help the United States meet Biden’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas pollution by 50% by 2030 from 2005 levels. .