Democratic leaders are regaining momentum, with the House expected to vote on President Joe Biden’s big domestic policy plan later this week and the Senate vowing to follow by Christmas in the hopes of strengthening the party’s reputation and fulfilling a key campaign pledge.
The Big Domestic Plan
Democrats are getting closer to an agreement on what programs and policies to include in President Joe Biden’s huge plan to expand health and safety net programs and battle global warming after months of negotiations.
The plan appears to include an expansion of Medicare coverage for seniors, universal preschool, paid family leave, and the continuance of a child tax credit that was enhanced earlier this year and extended to a broader range of households.
Democrats are reducing some investments or decreasing the timeline for when those programs will be operational to fit under a $2 trillion budget over ten years, rather than the $3.5 trillion budget passed earlier by the House. Nonetheless, Democrats are hopeful that the programs will be so popular that succeeding Congresses will continue to support them in the future.
The bill includes $110 billion for highways, bridges, and roads; $65 billion to upgrade the nation’s power grid; $39 billion for public transportation; $65 billion to expand high-speed internet, focusing on rural areas and low-income communities; and $55 billion to invest in clean water, with money going toward replacing lead pipes and addressing water contamination.
The Democrats’ Poor Outlook for Midterm Elections
Lawmakers look keen to shift the debate, going on the road to show voters what the Biden package means to Americans across the country, from savings on child care and health care to new employment that could result from climate change and other infrastructure investments.
Election defeats in Virginia earlier this month, along with a close call for the party in New Jersey, have confirmed what is turning up to be a bleak scenario ahead of next year’s midterm elections, when the Democrats’ tenuous hold on the House and Senate is threatened.
The Republicans and Their Stance
The bipartisan legislation is a much-needed triumph for Biden, who is still fighting intraparty battles over his major social safety net program amid an ongoing epidemic and inflation caused primarily by supply chain concerns.
Republicans are refusing to support Biden’s broader package, leaving Democrats with only a few votes to spare in the House and none in the evenly divided 50-50 Senate.
Republican leaders warned on Tuesday that increasing federal government spending will aggravate inflation, which has been hurting American households with higher costs for various items as people spend freely and demand grows. It appears improbable that any Republican will vote in favor of the bill.
The Challenge of Selling the Plan
When President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law in 2010, he was accompanied by then-Vice President Joe Biden. Months later, Biden stood alongside Obama as Democrats suffered crushing defeats at the federal and state levels in the midterm elections.
Now it is up to Biden to sell historic legislation to the American people ahead of what is projected to be another difficult midterm election season for Democrats. This time, it’s the $1.2-trillion infrastructure bill, the greatest such federal investment in decades, and some areas, the largest ever.
And Biden aims to push through Congress soon his big social spending plan, which would support sustainable energy, child care, tax credits, affordable housing, expanded healthcare, and other measures. The issue, both then and now, is to persuade people to support schemes whose advantages may not be seen for several years.
While Biden’s speech on Wednesday concentrated on the impact of the two big efforts on the auto industry, the environment, and the creation of union jobs, his speech on Tuesday focused on fundamental infrastructure important to rural America: roads, high-speed internet, and water systems. He believes that this is the real deal.
Biden says that he will get this done and then he’s going to tell the world that he did it and who stood against him.