Joe’s betting big, and he’s betting on America. Corny slogans aside, in the first 6 months of his presidency, Joe Biden has proposed spending almost $6 trillion over the next decade, which includes the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan that has already passed. For his next two proposals, he is making the case that we need to invest in education, childcare, healthcare, R&D, affordable housing, and infrastructure, just to name a few priorities. Joe Biden wants to ensure that America can compete in the 21st century and to do so, he realizes that we need to let go of our past economic orthodoxy.
The old way of thinking that “government is the problem” appears to be ending. America is done with the 40 year stranglehold Reaganomics has had on our politics—at least I hope. Instead, Joe Biden is sensing his opportunity to reshape America’s relationship with government. He is bucking this old consensus and is not all that concerned about being labeled as a liberal tax and spender by bad faith GOP actors. He is making the case that government is not only effective, but central; leaving the fight against climate change up to the free market for example, would take too much time, time we don’t have. And to make sure we compete with the rest of the world, we need to make significant investments now. Disingenuous attacks about ballooning deficits and runaway debt seem to be losing their luster.
In response, Biden is going big.
Joe Biden’s got big plans
Joe Biden and congressional Democrats have passed or introduced almost $6 trillion in new spending, covering large swaths of the economy from healthcare, to childcare, to energy and housing. His 3 massive proposals highlight a radical shift from the past and each on their own would transform America for the better.
Here are some snippets from all 3.
American Rescue Plan
The already passed $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan (ARP) is one of the most progressive pieces of legislation in decades.
- $1,400 checks are mostly out the door.
- Tax credits, like the child tax credit and the Affordable Care Act premium tax credits, expanded assistance to millions of American children and families. Together, these tax credits will help slash child poverty in half and bring down healthcare premiums, making childcare and healthcare more affordable.
- State, local, and tribal governments received billions in direct assistance to cover budget holes and fund future projects.
- It is fighting the pandemic, with billions toward testing, contact tracing, virus sequencing and of course getting millions of shots into arms.
This was just a snapshot of the ARP, but it demonstrates how beneficial this bill is for millions of Americans. In March, thanks in large part to the $1,400 stimulus checks, Americans saw a 21.1% month-to-month increase in income, one of the largest in decades.
We’re finally investing in America’s future
Joe Biden’s next move is to shore up America’s future. In the last month, he has proposed spending more than $2 trillion for his American Jobs Plan and $1.8 trillion for his American Families Plan. If passed, both of these proposals would put America on the path to win the 21st century.
American Jobs Plan
Joe Biden’s $2 trillion American Jobs Plan (AJP) would be a once in a generation investment in America’s infrastructure. Here are some highlights:
- $621 billion for traditional and future infrastructure.
- $174 billion investment in electric vehicles. That includes building 500,000 EV charging stations across the country and point of sale rebates for consumers to purchase EVs.
- $115 billion for roads and bridges. Upgrades the 10 most economically important bridges in America and modernizes 20,000 miles of highway and other roads.
- $85 billion for public transit, $25 billion to improve airports, and billions more to improve waterways, passenger and freight rail service, and several other important priorities.
- $590 billion for domestic manufacturing, R&D, and job training.
- $126 billion to build over a million energy efficient homes and eliminate exclusionary zoning practices.
- $18 billion to modernize VA hospitals and clinics.
- $45 billion to replace all lead pipes throughout the country.
If passed, America would finally start competing with countries like China who have been making their own infrastructure investments. Some estimates predict this much spending on infrastructure could create or save 15 million jobs over 10 years. I’m sure congress will tinker around the edges, but we should all be excited about these plans.
American Families Plan
Even more recently, Joe Biden put forth his $1.8 trillion American Families Plan (AFP). This would be the largest investment in American families and education in decades.
The plan includes:
- $800 billion in tax credits and tax cuts for middle class and working families, including extending the child tax credit increase from the American Rescue Plan through 2025, and the ACA premium tax credits.
- $200 billion for universal pre-kindergarten, which would help millions of children attend pre-k and help those families save on education costs.
- $109 billion for 2 free years of community college.
- Financial incentives to recruit more teachers and $1.6 billion to get more educators certified in areas like special education.
- Working with congress to pass automatic stabilizers: an important change to how unemployment insurance would work. Instead of hoping congress passes legislation to increase UI every time there is a recession, automatic stabilizers would immediately increase and decrease federal assistance based on the current economic conditions (like what the unemployment rate is).
Again, the list of policies in this massive $1.8 trillion plan goes on. It represents one of the largest investments in the American family in the education of Americans in our history, helping to better educate the American workforce and ensure they don’t go bankrupt in the process.
Joe Biden isn’t the only one to shower praise on
One thing I’d like to point out that I fear is getting lost is that Joe Biden and the Democratic Party wouldn’t have proposed these historic pieces of legislation without the work of many other actors. Activist groups and politicians like Bernie Sanders and AOC pushed the Overton window on many of these issues. If they and others didn’t confront the conventional wisdom that was prevalent in both parties, it is entirely possible we don’t get these substantial proposals from the Joe Biden Administration. These massive bills are as much a testament to the effectiveness of activism, advocacy, and Bernie Sanders’s 2016 presidential campaign as they are to Biden’s own political skills.
We all know Joe Biden is an old white man who’s been in politics for decades. With his reputation as a moderate politician, many during the primaries wrote him off as the Democratic Party’s past: primary voters would never vote for him. Obviously, those people were wrong.
Now that he is president these qualities taken together actually give him an underrated political weapon. The fact that he is an old white moderate makes it incredibly hard for the right’s socialist tag to stick. Biden is taking advantage of this by proposing some of the largest investments in America since the New Deal.
He hasn’t been perfect. I still think he should be canceling $50,000 in student debt and increase the refugee cap which he refused to do last month. Those criticisms aside, Joe Biden is putting an alternative vision for the role of government before the American people—one we haven’t seen since LBJ and FDR. He’s making the case that our problems can’t be solved with tax cuts for the rich or endless culture wars about Dr. Seuss or Mr. Potato Head. Instead, Biden is taking action and investing in America.
His plans are big, bold, and long overdue. It’s making me excited for the future.
Photo credit: White House Flickr Account