Friday’s statement by President Joe Biden indicated that he does not expect his climate spending and social safety net to shrink. This was a apparent effort to calm progressives who fear their priorities might be cut during the negotiations.
“We are not going to get $3.5 billion. We won’t get $3.5 trillion, but we will get it. He said this during remarks at a Connecticut child care center.
The Democrats on Capitol Hill are trying to cut the spending in the massive package to around $2 trillion. This would be funded by higher taxes for corporations and wealthy. The proposal contains everything, from free child care and community colleges to senior dental, vision, and hearing aid benefits, as well as a number significant provisions to combat climate change. These are all important items for progressives. However, moderates balked at the $3.5 trillion original price tag.
The Democrats are unable to vote on the bill with narrow margins in both the House and the equally-split Senate. Some progressives are concerned that the bill could not be whittled to their priorities.
Biden, however, has made it clear that the cost of child care will need to be reduced. Biden visited Hartford’s child development center on Friday to discuss the importance of investments in child care, and other social safety net programs. He argued that they are essential to keeping America competitive in the global market.
Biden, at the center, promoted his plan to make such care completely free for low-income families and to ensure that parents who earn less than 7% of their salary on child care are not subject to tax. This is part of a huge expansion of the social security net that Biden championed, and which is only attainable with Democratic votes in Congress.
Washingtonians are still not aware that it’s not enough to just invest in the infrastructure. He said that we also need to invest in our employees.
Biden then went on to explain how his plan would lower child care costs for Connecticut residents. He also noted the difference between U.S. investment in early childhood care and greater investments made in other countries to claim that the U.S. is falling behind.
“How can we compete globally if millions of American parents, particularly moms, are unable to be part of the workforce due to inability or inability to afford child care and eldercare?”
Before speaking, he briefly met some children at the center’s play area before greeting them. One time he knelt down to hug a child.
As his Democratic allies raise alarm about the lack of understanding by the American public regarding the benefits of the package, the president’s sales pitch is coming as he pitches it. There is renewed urgency among Democrats to push through the package ahead of an end-of-month deadline on transportation funding, Biden’s upcoming foreign trip, and a closer-than-anticipated race for Virginia’s next governor.
The White House and Congress are still in talks as they attempt to reach a consensus on both the spending levels for the legislation and the specific programs that should be included. Centrist Senators object to the bill. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Silena are forcing Democrats shrink the package from Biden’s $3.5 trillion proposal to close to $2 trillion.
Biden has called that “Build Back Better” legislation. This is also holding back a bipartisan, more than $1 trillion infrastructure bill that was passed by the Senate this summer. House progressives won’t support the bill until they can agree on a way forward for the social safety net package.
Terry McAuliffe (Democratic candidate for Virginia governor) spoke out against Biden and Democrats regarding the stalled infrastructure plan in an interview with The Associated Press.
McAuliffe stated, “They all need to get their act together” and that they should vote. McAuliffe was asked if he was calling Biden out. McAuliffe replied, “I put everyone there.” McAuliffe is currently in a close race with Glenn Youngkin, a Republican newcomer in a state that Biden won by 10 points last fall.
Biden will also deliver remarks Friday at Dodd Center for Human Rights dedication at University of Connecticut. This center is being renamed in honor of a long-time friend, former Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd. Dodd’s father was also a former senator.