President Joe Biden's budget for fiscal year 2022, released on Friday, contains an ambitious plan for the country. She is demanding total spending of just over $ 6 trillion in the coming fiscal year and considering how and for whom the American economy will work.
As suggested, the budget would reinvest in infrastructure and education, levy taxes on the rich and corporations, and deliver on many – but not all – of Biden's election promises. It is also the most significant addition to the federal government's purchasing power since World War II, and a direct refutation of the principles of the small government of its Republican and even many of its Democratic predecessors.
The budget is also notable for what it doesn't include: a renewal of the Hyde Amendment that bans federal funding for abortions. This rule, which has been in place for more than four decades, has been criticized for contributing to economic and racial inequality – and its absence is one of several ways this budget is designed to positively address the root causes of inequality.
"It's a budget that reflects the fact that the trickle-down economy never worked and that the best way to grow our economy is not top-down, but bottom-up and center-out." "wrote Biden in his budget message to Congress. "If we make this understanding our foundation, everything we build on will be strong."
Today I approved my budget for the coming fiscal year. It builds on the progress we've made in recent months and makes historic investments that will help our nation rebuild better in the decades to come. Read more here: https://t.co/6dKv8wa4yI
– President Biden (@POTUS) May 28, 2021
When the Biden government tabled a partial budget proposal in early April formulating its proposals for discretionary spending, German Lopez von Vox wrote that the plan “is based on a clear vision: the government can and should do a lot more to help the many Solve problems faced by the government country. "
Biden's entire budget continues to reflect that philosophy and flesh out Biden's broader presidential agenda, including legislative proposals such as the American Jobs and American Families plans.
Nothing in Biden's budget is binding, however, and the ambitious plan is unlikely to be fully implemented. The President's budget is an integral part of the wider budget process, but it is by no means the last word. This is up to Congress, which will eventually pass its own budget resolution and set of budget plans to actually fund the government for the next fiscal year.
As Vox's Dylan Matthews explained during the Trump years, the president's budget is best viewed as a messaging document: an outline of government spending priorities and a way to set the tone for Congress as lawmakers work out the budget details . It's also a statement of which of Biden's campaign pledges he wants to focus on – and which are no longer a White House priority.
Democrats are mostly happy with Biden's budget. Republicans aren't.
Biden's budget was welcomed by the Democrats in Congress. House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced this in a statement Friday as "a clear statement of the value Democrats place on American middle-class workers and families," and the House Progressive Caucus raised Biden's "strong point." Commitment to our tax system "emerges fair for working people. "
A federal budget should be a declaration of our national values. @POTUS Biden's budget is a clear statement of the value Democrats place on American middle class workers and families who are the foundation of our nation's strength and key to #BuildBackBetter.
– Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) May 28, 2021
The GOP, meanwhile, proposed a more apocalyptic note in response to the Biden budget. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), chairman of the minority House of Representatives, described the plan as "the most ruthless and irresponsible budget proposal of my life" and warned of "dire fiscal and economic consequences" in a Friday statement while Sen. Lindsey Graham (R -SC)) dismissed it as "dead on arrival" in a tweet.
And both parties have pushed back one aspect of the budget: military spending. Progressives argued in a statement that the budget is overspending on national defense, adding to an "already bloated Pentagon budget of $ 740 billion".
"At a time when the US military budget is larger than that of the next ten countries combined," wrote the Progressive Caucus of Congress, "we believe the importance of identifying and reducing military waste, fraud and abuse in the budget process . "
Republicans argued the opposite, saying the proposed budget spends too little on military operations and defense. While Biden's proposal would increase the Pentagon's budget 1.6 percent – a record military spending – it is still the smallest increase by any federal agency.
House and Senate Republicans issued a statement arguing that the proposed military budget was "totally inadequate" and represented a spending cut in the face of inflation.
"Such a budget sends a bad signal to China and our other potential adversaries – that we are not ready to do anything to defend ourselves and our allies and partners," the statement said.
The era of great government is back
As Lopez and many others have pointed out, the first few months of Biden's presidency can be viewed as a rejection of former President Bill Clinton's famous line that "the era of great administration is over".
Biden's budget for fiscal year 2022 fits right into this pattern. It has two key proposals for signature: a US $ 2 trillion employment plan that includes a comprehensive definition of infrastructure to not only modernize America's roads and bridges, but also invest in broadband and elderly care, and an American family plan $ 1.8 trillion. This would enable free higher education and expand childcare, health care and tax breaks for families in need.
Overall, the budget includes a major rejuvenation of the social safety net and expanded investment in programs such as universal preschool education, affordable childcare and paid vacation. It also focuses on the climate crisis, with proposals to reduce US emissions, create clean energy jobs, and fund climate research.
And it's reinvesting in aspects of everyday life, from public transportation to art, that were slashed under the Trump administration. The idea, as Biden put it in his budget message on Friday, is "not just to emerge from the immediate crises we have inherited, but to better rebuild".
President Joe Biden returns to the White House after visiting Michigan to make remarks on infrastructure on May 18.
Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images
In the Biden budget, among other things, the funding of two free years at Community College is specifically requested. expanded Pell Grants and other programs to make college more affordable for low- and middle-income students; an extension of the expanded child tax credit, which is included in the US bailout plan already adopted and which experts say could cut child poverty in half; and universal paid family and medical vacation programs "that would align the American system with the competitive nations offering paid vacation programs."
And if it did go into effect, Biden's budget would invest tens of billions in promoting racial justice and combating systemic racism in the US, according to a New York Times list of equity-funded budget items "big and small".
According to the Roll Call, 17 out of 22 sections of the proposal “specifically mention new or expanded programs that focus on racial differences, inequality or civil rights. In comparison, President Donald Trump's 150-page budget inquiry for fiscal 2020 did not mention the words "race", "race" or "civil rights" once.
In particular, Biden's budget provides for an increase in funding for historically black, tribal and minority colleges and universities. Investing in environmental justice initiatives; and programs to reduce racial health disparities.
In the campaign, Biden made his Racial Justice Plan one of the pillars of what he called the "Build Back Better Agenda" – branding he carried out at the White House – and pledged to empower minority-owned companies and address racial issues, among other things Differences in home ownership and discrimination at the end of earnings.
Philosophically, Biden's first budget as president is also a marked departure from the last time he was in the White House, then No. 2. As Lopez wrote in April, Biden avoids the occasional austerity concessions that came under the previous one President Barack Obama has emerged, offering “a largely tacit and sometimes explicit criticism of the past few decades of public disinvestment in public services – arguing that it is failing to put more money into pandemic preparation, clean energy technologies and programs Supporting the poor and disadvantaged have helped lead the US into its current crises. "
Some progressive economists, such as Bob Greenstein, founder of the Center for Budgetary and Policy Priorities and current visiting scholar at the Brookings Institution, have praised the document for its potential to eradicate root causes of inequality and financial hardship.
“After following the presidents' budgets for over 40 years, I can rightly say that while I could change some things in the new Biden budget, if it came into effect, I would do more to reduce poverty and inequality than any other Budget in modern US history, ”he said in a Friday tweet.
After following the presidents' budgets for over 40 years, I can rightly say that while I could change a few things in the new Biden budget, if passed, it would do more to reduce poverty and inequality than any other budget in modern US history
– Bob Greenstein (@BobGreensteinDC) May 28, 2021
When it comes to health care and student debt relief, Biden holds back
As extensive as Biden's budget is, there are also some noticeable absences compared to his campaign platform. In particular, health care proposals don't go as far as some proponents would like – and student debt relief doesn't show up at all.
As a candidate, Biden differed from more progressive presidential candidates like Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who both advocated Medicare for All, in that he promised to keep the existing American health care system largely intact – but he also promised to build on existing Affordable Care Act and expand access to health care in the United States.
At the heart of that plan should be a public option: As Vox's Dylan Scott explained, a “Medicare-like government insurance plan would be sold in Obamacare's marketplaces, where some 12 million Americans buy their own insurance. It would create more competition in areas where only one or two other insurance plans are available. The public option would also cover low-income Americans who are currently denied insurance because their state is against Obamacare. "
Biden's budget for fiscal 2022 does not abandon this plan. Indeed, it stresses that health care is “a right, not a privilege,” and it is explicitly stated that it “supports the provision of additional, lower-cost coverage options for Americans by creating a public option that is accessible through the ACA Marketplaces would be available ”.
However, the budget is also not doing anything concrete to advance a public option, and funding for an option is not included in the total proposed budget of $ 6 trillion.
According to Washington Post's Jeff Stein and Tyler Pager, the public option was a victim of the government's last-minute caution. They reported last week that "the White House has shed months of planning on the part of the agency's staff, as their original plan could fuel criticism that the administration is too aggressively pushing new spending programs."
The same appears to apply to student debt relief, according to the Post. As with a public health insurance option, Biden promised in the campaign and as elected president to "immediately" cancel student debt of up to $ 10,000 for all borrowers. However, that promise is narrowly shortened in the budget, with just a brief mention of "changes … that will reduce student debt" and again no funding for this project.
President Biden attends a CNN City Hall in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on February 16.
Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty Images
While student debt relief did not get into Biden's budget, it is not off the table. Congressional Democrats could push for it to be included in a Congressional budget resolution if they so choose, and Biden directed Education Secretary Miguel Cardona earlier this year to draft a memo detailing Biden's options for debt relief of up to $ 50,000 for Students are set out. This is the amount that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and others supported.
More than 43 million Americans are struck down under a student loan debt of more than $ 1.5 trillion.
A crisis of this magnitude requires courageous action.
President Joe Biden can #CancelStudentDebt through Executive Action https://t.co/WR2gNo37Cd
– Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) March 9, 2021
Biden's budget proposal may depend on Joe Manchin
As the Post reported, one reason a public health care option and student debt relief no longer featured in Biden's fiscal year 2022 budget was that the administration had an ambitious list of legal priorities ahead of Congress. With negotiations still in progress, the dollar amounts set in the budget could change dramatically – and the final decisions on those spending are likely to be subject to the same partisan back-and-forth as any other spending package that reaches Congress.
In short, if the White House is to pass spending bills through regular order – without resorting to the budget voting process – Democrats will always need at least 10 Republican votes to clear the filibuster.
Biden has already fought for and won a costly package: the US $ 1.9 trillion bailout plan known as his Covid-19 stimulus package. In his budget proposal, he is now pushing for $ 1.8 trillion to expand the childcare and health care benefits set out in this plan, and $ 2 trillion for infrastructure, elderly care and broadband.
First up before Congress is the $ 2 trillion infrastructure and employment plan, which has already been the subject of a number of offers and counter-offers between the White House and Senate Republicans. Hence, any bipartisan agreement would likely leave the overall price well below Biden's current budget.
Biden makes a statement to the press as Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) listens in the Oval Office during a meeting with a group of Republican Senators to discuss the administration's infrastructure plan on May 13.
T.J. Kirkpatrick / Getty Images
However, as part of the reconciliation, the Democrats could potentially get a much larger package – one more similar to the package originally proposed by Biden and included in his budget – that was passed without Republican support from Congress.
Previously, the Democrats had passed their coronavirus aid package through reconciliation, and they could do so again. However, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), defender of the filibuster and the critical (and conservative) 50th vote in the narrow Senate Democratic majority, has remained publicly optimistic that the negotiators can reach a bipartisan deal, telling reporters: " I don't know why you need reconciliation "
"We have to find something sensible and I am always looking for this moderate, sensible center if you can," said Manchin on Tuesday, according to Politico. "It might not be as big as you want and then you have people on the right who don't want to do that much or nothing. I probably wouldn't be there either."
As Paul Waldman and Greg Sargent wrote in the Washington Post earlier this month, it is possible for the White House that the current talks with GOP Senators will not bring much benefit and will simply let the negotiations go on for Manchin's sake before moving on to reconciliation.
But in any case, the progressives are getting impatient and unsure of the concessions the Senate GOP might make on the way to a bipartisan deal.
"Just like with the US bailout, we believe we must act big, bold and urgent," the House Progressive Caucus said in a statement Friday following the release of Biden's budget proposal. "We just can't afford to narrow our Republican ambitions or continue to wait for an offer that never comes through."