Biden scales back his agenda in hopes of getting moderates onboard


WASHINGTON — President Biden and Democratic leaders in Congress in recent days have downplayed their ambitions for a major expansion of America’s social safety net for a package of $2.3 trillion or less, making tough choices about whether Will force that the President expects how to roll back a resolution. will be transformative.

the figure is quite low Mr. Biden’s Prior Plan, which introduced new spending and tax cuts to fuel a generational expansion in Americans’ lives, including efforts to fight climate change and child poverty, increase access to education, and help American companies compete with China. Called $3.5 trillion.

According to party members involved in the conversation, Democratic leaders will probably need to scale down their plans for free community college, child tax credits and universal preschools to offer them only low- and middle-income Americans.

The White House is also debating whether to shut down some initiatives altogether, according to people familiar with the discussions, by cutting down on their duration or access, or keeping others largely intact. Try to keep the programs.

The cuts are a blow to Mr Biden’s agenda, but the remaining plans will still provide significant benefits for a wide range of Americans. Mr Biden and his allies have known for months that they will need to reduce the size and scope of their plans to satisfy moderates in their party. But the president has insisted in public and private talks with Democrats that even a small bill could change the landscape of the US economy and help keep the party in power in next year’s midterm elections.

“These bills are about competition versus complacency,” Mr. Biden said Tuesday in Michigan, where he spoke at a union hall to promote policies not only in his spending bill, but a smaller, bipartisan infrastructure bill. Which is passed by the Senate but not the House. “They’re about opportunity versus decay.”

The president acknowledged in private meetings with House Democrats on Monday and Tuesday that he was now negotiating two Democratic centrist holdouts, a plan to spend more than $2.3 trillion in concessions to senators and possibly less. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia And Kirsten Cinema of Arizona. His votes are essential: Biden would need support from every Democrat in the Senate and almost every one in the House to secure the bill. Mr Manchin has said he will support the $1.5 trillion package under certain conditions.

Progressives are still pushing for more. In a private meeting on Monday between Biden and progressive lawmakers, Washington’s Representative Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, backed down from Biden’s offer limit and suggested a price of at least $2.5 trillion instead. , and up to $2.9 trillion, according to a person familiar with the comments. The man, speaking on condition of anonymity, described the in-camera meeting.

White House aides say privately that Mr Biden is pushing Mr Manchin and Ms Cinema to spend as much as possible in the final bill. Administration officials also say the bill’s lower cost of spending and tax cuts mean Democrats will have an easier time on revenue growth — which includes tax increases on higher-income earners and corporations — to cover the price tag. For.

Republicans say the law puts too much government in people’s lives and argue that its tax hike will cripple the economy. But supporters of the bill see a rare and perhaps fleeting opportunity to fulfill decades of promises made by Democrats to voters. Personally, many Democrats fear they may lose their congressional majority in the midterm elections next year – making this potentially their last opportunity for some time to create a program they think will be effective. will prove to be more popular.

“If the final package fails to deliver at this moment, it will be an opportunity for historic consequences,” said Lindsey Owens, executive director of the Progressive Groundworks Collaborative in Washington. “These are not just numbers on a page or recourse to political posture – each dollar represents a real investment in climate, housing, care and other important programs that our communities need to survive and thrive.”

On Capitol Hill, Democratic leaders have their sights set on October 31 as the next self-imposed deadline to attempt to pass both the $1 trillion infrastructure bill and the massive domestic policy package.

Lawmakers and progressive interest groups have begun lobbying Democratic leaders and the White House to put all or part of their preferred spending programs in the bill. Mr Biden initially proposed a $400 billion investment in home health care for disabled and older Americans, including the powerful Service Employees International Union, pushing to preserve that spending at a level that both Expands access to in-home care and also increases the pay of care workers. Those workers disproportionately include women of color, making the spending a key issue in Biden’s promise to invest in racial equity.

Centrist Progressive Policy Institute on Tuesday issued a report Outlining a potential $2 trillion plan built around efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a means-tested preschool program, an expansion of the Affordable Care Act and a more modest amount of tax credits for parents than Mr. Expansion.

Mr Biden has not said what he will cut. But lobbyists and interest groups have analyzed recent comments from the president and his team for clues.

For example: a White House fact sheet released prior to the Michigan speech included a list of statistics on the number of state residents who were required to subsidize Mr. Biden’s child care, provide universal preschool, build affordable housing, and contribute to child nutrition. Investing will help. even more. But it did not specifically mention a paid leave program for workers that was a cornerstone of Mr Biden’s initial economic plans, and Mr Biden did not mention paid leave in his speech.

New York Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, said Monday, “Nobody will get everything they want.” “But no matter what, our final offer will fulfill the original promise we made to the American people.”

In a letter to her Democratic colleagues in the House this week, California Speaker Nancy Pelosi outlined three categories a final package should contain to support children and jobs: health care, including expanding Medicaid and Medicare benefits, family care, and climate improvement. She wrote that “it is important to highlight and communicate to the nation the transformative nature of the initiative in law.”

Some liberals have called for the inclusion of as many programs as possible and then continuing to build on them in future legislation. But Ms Pelosi, speaking privately to members of the House Democratic leadership on Tuesday, suggested that many in the caucus felt it was better to focus on fewer programs that, according to two people familiar with the comments, they do well. can.

On Tuesday, Mr Biden met with swing-district Democrats for nearly an hour to hear their priorities and to reiterate his commitment to both pieces of legislation becoming law in some of the toughest midterm re-election battles. encounter.

Representative Colin Allred, Democrat of Texas, said attendees wanted to “equip them with the knowledge that members of the House who were in the toughest race are with them and support them in doing so.”

The group of lawmakers there – including Representative Cindy Axane of Iowa, Lizzie Fletcher of Texas and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia – focused largely on including expanded tax cuts that provide monthly payments to families, addressing climate change and lowers the cost of drugs, as well as personal preferences, according to people familiar with the discussion.

Representative Susan Wilde, Democrat of Pennsylvania, said Biden took careful notes during the virtual call as lawmakers detailed their priorities.

“None of us gave her the top line – we really focused more on the programs,” Ms. Wilde said. “Even if it meant fewer programs, we’d like to see them well, so I don’t think any of us felt it was just an abstract number to talk about. was useful.”



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