When President Joe Biden defeated former President Donald Trump in the November general election, he did so in part by influencing the voices of the most radical Democrats. Although he is still considered a moderate, one of his campaign promises that may have helped win over those voters was his plans for a strong social safety net.
Now, almost a year later, Biden is struggling to pass a bill to keep those promises. His administration and other leading Democrats have proposed a $ 3.5 trillion bill that expands many social programs already in place and in the form of new ones. This bill runs into a roadblock throughout Congress, being blocked by a few selected Democrats and a significant number of Republicans.
Sophomore Benjamin RascÃ³n Gracia, a representative of the Democrats chapter of the College of Notre Dame, explained that the bill would have a daily impact on citizens.
Author’s Note: The Observer is a politically independent publication. The College Notre Dame Republican Club did not respond to The Observer’s request for comment.
“The Biden administration is trying to provide material well-being to its constituents through a very big social program,” said RascÃ³n Gracia. “[These programs] are really going to help the working class and even the middle class people without having to raise taxes on them.
He highlighted both the child tax credit and the expansion of the free community college as important aspects of the bill.
Other programs that would be included in the bill are a universal two-year preschool, coverage of certain childcare costs, paid family and medical leave, extended health insurance, specific vocational training programs. and various other tax credits. The bill also covers some protections against climate change.
RascÃ³n Gracia said the bill included so many different aspects to take advantage of the slim majority Democrats have.
âIdeally you would have a separate bill that talks about climate change [and other programs], “he said.” But right now we have a majority that we have to take advantage of. If we don’t shift as much of our priorities as possible, what might happen is we might end up having another situation like the Obama administration, where many priorities have not been adopted.
The bill is also linked to a $ 1,000 billion bipartisan infrastructure bill who has already passed the Senate with a 69-30 vote and is expected to move up to the House floor in the next few days. This costly bill covers high speed Internet, airports, Amtrak and improving roads and bridges, among other projects.
Democrats have used the infrastructure bill as a tool to motivate their colleagues to support the social safety net bill.
In addition to being tied to the fate of the infrastructure bill, many members of the legislature have attempted to force the government to shut down in response to the social safety net bill. This was avoided when Biden signed a short term bill that would extend current government spending until December Thursday night.
The two main criticisms of the ambitious bill are the cost and the growing involvement of the government in the lives of citizens.
Economics professor Forrest Spence explained that the bill will have to go through budget reconciliation.
âThe bill will have to pass budget reconciliation, which means it is budget neutral,â Spence said. “And so the only way to pass something like this, without any Republican support, will be 50 votes in the Senate, which can pass a budget neutral bill.”
The bill currently seeks to pass as budget neutral by increasing taxes for individuals and businesses earning more than $ 400,000 per year.
RascÃ³n Gracia said he would oppose the government’s demand for increased involvement, explaining that the aim of the bill is to benefit families and strengthen family values ââ- an important goal of the Republican platform. .
âWhen we try to pass bills like these, it’s a very big fear that ‘oh my God we are falling into socialism,’ said RascÃ³n Gracia.â If you are able to provide a form of support to individuals and families, I mean, what can be more aligned with family values ââthan that. “
Spence said there would be both risks and economic benefits to such a comprehensive bill.
Increasing public spending and debt would only be a good risk if gross domestic product (GDP) also increases, as GDP is an indication of the country’s ability to repay its debt, Spence said.
Some fear that increasing taxes on wealthy companies will reduce their output and the country’s GDP. However, the bill could be worth that cost if the programs – community college, vocational programs, etc. – finally added to the wealth of the country.
Spence explained that other unexpected costs sometimes come with such massive system shocks.
âLarge political shocks generate costs that are somewhat independent of the merits of the policies themselves,â he said.
In order for Biden to preserve his legacy and get this bill through Congress, he will have to modify the invoice sort of. This could include investing only in continuing current programs or perhaps focusing more on climate change instead.
In all scenarios, it is clear that this bill will continue to be a source of much political debate between and within party lines in the weeks to come.