Democrats on Capitol Hill are pushing two companion pieces of legislation. Though they come in different packages, taken together they cover much of President Joe Biden’s original $6 trillion budget proposal.
CBN News has more on the price tag and the long-term impact of these new entitlements.
The entitlements are found in the budget blueprint the Senate Budget Committee settled on Tuesday. Bear in mind that, unlike the bipartisan infrastructure bill, Democrats can use a process called reconciliation to push the social infrastructure piece through the Senate without any help from Republicans if the party remains united on the cost.
The President appeared on Capitol Hill Wednesday to rally support for the $3.5 trillion plan.
“We’re going to get this done,” Biden said.
It includes things like free universal pre-kindergarten, two free years of community college, home care for the elderly, and climate change.
The bill also has other items Democrats did not get out of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan physical infrastructure bill that focuses mostly on needs like bridges and highways.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) has worked on both bills.
“I’m going to do my best to try to convince people that this is the moment when we need to make the kind of investment in child care, in preschool in dealing with challenges around the climate,” he said.
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Warner said the funding for what the administration terms social infrastructure would come mainly in the form of increased taxes on the rich, but economic experts differ on whether that would work.
“If the Biden administration were able to essentially push along some tax increases that would pay for it, then at least you can say this is not adding primarily to debt and deficits so I would say that alone is a positive development,” said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate.com.
“The President claims that the plan is fully paid for by his tax increases on upper-income individuals. But when you strip away all of the gimmicks that are in his budget, you find that the plan is underfunded over the next ten years by about a trillion dollars. That’s the program will add about a trillion dollars to the national debt,” noted John Cogan, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.
Outside of tax increases, Warner said there are other funding sources.
“Every Treasury secretary Democrat or Republican says if we simply enforce our existing tax laws the so-called tax gap where people aren’t paying their taxes that are due, the current IRS commissioner appointed by President Trump said there’s a trillion dollars now I’m not sure there’s a trillion dollars, but there’s a lot of money there,” Warner explained.
Those on both sides of the aisle agree the traditional infrastructure bill covering roads, bridges, and broadband is an investment that could save the country money on the long run.
“When we’re talking about infrastructure, there is a cost to making those improvements and repairs, but there’s also a huge cost to failing to do it. And one could perhaps rightly ask the question, could the same things be said of the social aspects of this agenda,” Hamrick explained.
Cogan said the problem with so-called ‘social infrastructure” is the entitlements may not be going to those who really need them most.
“We estimate that about 40 percent of all of the entitlement benefits under the Biden Families Plan, will end up going to individuals that are in the upper half of the income distribution,” he said.
Lawmakers are working feverishly on both bills at the same time. Realizing that while their two separate bills are certainly inextricably bound, both could end up on the Senate floor for debate within the next several days.
A key Democrat is already voicing serious concerns over environmental initiatives in the $3.5 trillion dollar plan. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said he’s “very, very disturbed” by programs aimed at phasing out fossil fuels.