This is the most recent summary of what is in the Build Back Better Bill. This bill has passed the House of Representatives and is now in the Senate where it will most likely be amended by Senators who don’t even intend to bring it up for a vote. The bill will probably have to be passed by “Reconciliation” with “yes” votes from only Democrats. Even then Joe Manchin, all by himself, could block this bill from passing into law.
It is a good law, designed to help Americans who work and Americans who need help adapting homes and vehicles to zero carbon standards thus halting climate change (we hope). We once solved acid rain that was destroying the Adirondacks in NYS, so we know it is possible to turn environmental damage around by regulating toxic pollutants. It seems likely we could do the same thing with our broader climate challenges. This law also makes the Affordable Care Plan friendlier to Americans who did not fare well in the original law.
This plan, this Build Back Better Plan, addresses many areas where America has fallen behind other wealthy nations and it includes ways to pay for the programs found in the plan. But pushback against this bill is very strong and not always for the best of reasons. Manchin picks out a small segment of the bill and says that if that remains he will not vote for it. He does this even though he made promises to let this bill come up for a vote if progressives in the House would let the Infrastructure Bill go ahead. Now that the Infrastructure Bill is safe Manchin is again holding the bill hostage until all the best bits are removed. Republicans insist that this bill be paid for but they will never raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Krysten Sinema, another Democrat who is blocking this bill, says she also will not vote to raise corporate taxes.
The media, especially the print media liked that the bill was closer to being “centrist” than to being truly “progressive”, according to a headline that was emailed to just about everyone by the NYT. The Washington Post waffles on the bill. Now that we are seeing inflation, alarms are being raised on all media except the very most left-wing sources. “We can’t afford this.” (This could help the economy, not hurt it by getting people, especially women, back to work.) “This will explode the debt and the deficit.” (Republicans only worry about the debt and deficits when Democrats have the conn.)
It was suggested that the corporate tax rate go up to 15% and the right-wing went wild. First of all, they all signed a pledge to the Americans for Tax Reform that they would never raise taxes. However, we ask, is putting taxes back a bit towards previously higher levels really raising taxes? Second of all, they say that corporations won’t pay and we have no way to enforce these rates. Don’t we still have jails? What happens to you and me if we don’t pay our taxes?
If we read the predictions in the print media daily that tell us that passing this bill will destroy an already reeling economy; if news and news-like media figures insist that America cannot afford these programs right now (or ever), then it seems only patriotic to suppress the excitement you might have felt on anticipating this assistance and agree that the bill should not pass. However, there has never been a pandemic that lasted this long, at least not that most of us have experienced. We have never shut down big sections of the economy except when we converted factories to war work. The predictions these folks are making about the future are based on the past.
Since there is no real precedent for these times what if the negative predictions are wrong? What if the negative predictions are based on the political policies that people hold on the right rather than on economic realities? What if this is still about the belief on the right that supporting workers will turn workers into lazy deadbeats? Aren’t you at all insulted by this line of reasoning? Wouldn’t you love some financial help with childcare, with caring for your parents? What if universal pre-K made such a difference in the skills of young people in our poorest neighborhoods that it gave them confidence to succeed throughout their schooling and beyond. The benefits of this bill go beyond the money it costs. Passing this bill speaks to the value our elected officials place in us, working Americans, and the hopes they have for lifting poor Americans out of poverty.
Feeling positive and feeling valued might actually affect our economy in positive ways that can’t be calculated by the CBO yet. We should tell our elected representatives to take a chance on us. Find them on the internet. Send them an email.