Politics: What's in and out of the Biden spending framework

What's in Biden's latest budget offer: Climate programs and universal preschool, but no paid leave

  What's in Biden's latest budget offer: Climate programs and universal preschool, but no paid leave Smaller than his original proposal, Biden touted his "framework" as one step that will help grow the economy while also confronting climate change.The plan would provide free preschool for more than 6 million children, expand Medicare coverage to cover hearing and raise Pell grants to help offset college tuition.

President Joe Biden has unveiled a framework for legislation he hoped would unite the Democratic Party — but which quickly became snarled in the same intraparty fights that have held Democrats back from passing a spending plan for months.

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Biden on Thursday touted the proposal as a “historic economic framework” behind which he was confident the centrist and progressive wings of his party would line up before he left for Europe later in the day.

But it left on the cutting room floor a number of liberal priorities, causing some progressives to suggest they’ll continue to withhold their votes until the framework is retooled.

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Here is what’s in and out of the framework as of Thursday evening.

WHAT’S IN

Free pre-K

The Biden framework would set aside funding for universal preschool for 3- and 4-year olds, fulfilling one of the initial promises of the safety net legislation.

The White House described it as the “largest expansion of universal and free education since states and communities across the country established public high school 100 years ago.”

Medicaid expansion

The proposal would expand Medicaid to lower premiums for Obamacare users in a handful of red states that did not take the Medicaid expansion.

White House officials claimed the expansion would provide credits to cover the premiums of 4 million Americans who don’t have access to coverage in their states.

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The version of Medicaid expansion included in the framework is reportedly not as aggressive as Democrats wanted initially, but would still expand the reach of Medicaid beyond what was set under Affordable Care Act standards.

Climate change

Biden’s departure for a climate summit in Scotland put particular pressure on Democrats to pass climate-related measures before he left in order to give him a legislative win he could tout among world leaders this week.

A win did not occur when progressives vowed to continue blocking a bipartisan infrastructure bill until they got more of their demands into the final spending bill. The infrastructure package that passed the Senate earlier this year also contained significant climate provisions.

But Biden’s proposed framework contained $550 billion for “clean energy and climate investments” such as electric vehicle subsidies and the creation of a Civilian Climate Corps,

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Climate provisions would make up the most significant proportion of spending in the spending plan if it passed as written on Thursday. However, Democrats have held out for far more significant investments across the board than the White House pitched, and it’s unclear if the climate provisions will be sufficient.

Child tax credit

An expansion of the child tax credit that was included in the stimulus bill passed earlier this year by Congress would also make it into the final version of the Democratic spending plan if Democrats accept Biden’s framework.

The expansion would last through 2022, provisioning $300 per month for each household’s child under 6 and $250 per month per each household’s child from 6 to 17.

The expansion would test Republicans’ willingness to let popular provisions expire if they regain control of Congress in the midterm elections.

Democrats are hoping short-term funding of some programs, like the child tax credit, would force the hands of Republican lawmakers down the road if a looming expiration stirs public sentiment against the GOP and allows Democrats to sustain programs that would only be counted as temporary when the bill receives a formal score from analysts.

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Corporate minimum tax

Democrats have so far been unable to get on the same page regarding tax proposals that could raise hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue to cover the cost of their ambitious spending plans.

One tax proposal that did make the final cut of Biden’s framework is the corporate minimum tax — a tax designed to hit major corporations that are able to exploit existing loopholes to pay little to no income taxes under current law.

The corporate minimum tax would hit all corporations with more than $1 billion in annual revenue with a 15% tax. That would apply to all revenue reported to shareholders.

Corporations would also face a 1% surcharge on stock buybacks, which the White House said “corporate executives too often use to enrich themselves rather than investing workers and growing their businesses.”

WHAT’S OUT

Paid leave

Democrats of nearly all stripes had pushed to include some form of mandatory paid leave in the spending package, hoping to cement the popular idea as a legacy item for the party ahead of the midterms.

A 12-week paid leave proposal had been whittled down to four weeks in talks leading up to Biden’s announcement of the framework, and even that was considered a major concession by congressional progressives looking for a more ambitious approach.

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Paid leave was excluded entirely from the final product, as White House officials looked to get the proposal’s price tag under $2 trillion to satisfy Senate centrists like Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.

Prescription drug pricing

Provisions that would have allowed the government to negotiate lower drug prices with pharmaceutical companies ended up on the chopping block.

The White House blamed a lack of support among lawmakers for the glaring omission. Biden and others had promised to deliver a plan to lower prescription drug costs, but the bitter negotiations over the bill did not yield a plan that could satisfy all Democrats.

This was viewed Thursday as one of the more notable exclusions from the framework, as Democrats have been promising to lower the price of medicines for several election cycles and still could not find a way to get it into their legislation.

Free community college

Biden had pitched the idea of tuition-free community college while running for president. Weeks of contentious talks among Democrats revealed the lack of support for funding the proposal, however, and it became clear in recent weeks that community college subsidies would not wind up in the final bill.

The president said during a town hall event last week that community college was to be dropped from a deal he was helping to negotiate on Capitol Hill.

The text of his framework, released on Thursday, made official the idea that free college was not going to be part of Democrats’ legislative agenda for the foreseeable future.

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Medicare expansion

Sen. Bernie Sanders championed the idea of expanding Medicare coverage to dental, vision, and hearing.

Centrist Sen. Joe Manchin threw cold water on the idea during negotiations, arguing repeatedly that lawmakers should focus on shoring up Medicare financially before growing its commitments as the program faces insolvency within the next decade.

The White House framework did expand Medicare to cover hearing, but the rest of Sanders’ ambitions for the program were discarded as Biden and others looked to pare down the scope of the bill.

Corporate and wealth tax hikes

Democrats had originally looked to fund their legislation by pursuing an avenue popular with their voters: taxing corporations and the ultra-wealthy.

Biden proposed earlier this year raising the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21%, the rate Republicans set during the Trump administration.

That hike proved too ambitious for centrists like Manchin early on in talks, and the idea of lifting the corporate tax rate fell apart when Sinema came out against such tax increases earlier this month.

Finance Chairman Sen. Ron Wyden briefly caught Democrats’ attention when he floated a tax this week on the unrealized capital gains of roughly 700 billionaires.

However, skepticism of the plan sunk it before it gained real steam, and Biden’s framework omitted the so-called billionaire tax as a revenue generator to cover the price tag of the bill.

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Tags: News, Taxes, Joe Biden, Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema

Original Author: Sarah Westwood

Original Location: What's in and out of the Biden spending framework

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