WASHINGTON (AP) – After months of negotiations, Democrats are nearing agreement on what programs and policies should be included in President Joe Biden’s ambitious plan to expand health and social protection programs and fight global warming.
The plan is likely to include universal preschool education, paid family leave, and the maintenance of the child tax credit, which was increased earlier this year and is applicable to more families. Democrats are cutting back on some investment or timeline when these programs are up and running to meet the roughly $ 2 trillion budget over 10 years, rather than the $ 3.5 trillion originally envisioned budget plan.
Nonetheless, Democrats hope these programs will prove so popular that future Congresses will continue to fund them in the years to come. It seems unlikely that any Republican will support this measure.
Negotiations are going fast and the package is changing very quickly. It will also not be possible to fully appreciate the details until the text of the law is published. But here’s what the bill is, according to lawmakers and aides:
– The increase in the tax credit for children will continue for another year. As part of the COVID relief bill, Democrats increased the tax credit to $ 3,000 for a child ages 6-17 and to $ 3,600 for a child aged 5 and under. Limiting the program to one year will disappoint many of its supporters, but they hope the program’s popularity will prompt Congress to extend it for years to come. Budget hawks fear that the one-year extension is a budgetary instrument that will, on paper, lower the cost of a program, but mask its true costs, as legislators tend to keep programs going rather than letting them expire.
– Plans to expand Medicare, including dental, vision and hearing aids, are being cut. Biden said he liked the idea, but given the objections of Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, the proposal is “attainable.” Instead, Democrats, he said, are considering offering seniors a $ 800 voucher to access dental care, as well as another hearing aid program that Sinema could support. However, according to Biden, the issue of vision is more difficult to resolve, and there is no consensus yet.
“Expanding Medicaid in about a dozen states and providing subsidies that lower the cost of Obamacare members are also still part of the program. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the health insurance components in the bill will reduce the number of uninsured by about 3.9 million over the next decade. Significant increases in Medicaid plans and the Affordable Care Act will be partially offset by a 2.8 million cut in employment-based premiums.
– The United States will join a long list of countries with a paid family leave program that allows workers to take time off to give birth, care for a new baby, or to deal with a family member’s serious health problem. But the 12 weeks of paid leave that Biden has offered is likely to be cut to four, he said.
– One-stop kindergarten for all three- and four-year-olds and childcare subsidies for low-income and middle-income Americans continue to be provided. Biden’s plan stipulates that parents earning up to 150% of the state’s median income (about $ 115,000) must pay no more than 7% of their income to childcare, with the poorest families receiving free childcare. He offered a tax credit for half a family’s childcare costs, up to $ 4,000 for one child or $ 8,000 for two or more children.
– The free community college is probably no longer working, although Biden is seeking to increase Pell grants to pay for tuition.
“It also looks like the program that is considered the cornerstone of Biden’s plan to tackle climate change is not working, mainly due to opposition from Manchin. This program would offer grants to energy companies that increase their clean energy production by 4% each year, and fines for those who do not. However, hundreds of billions of dollars are expected to be funneled into programs designed to help the United States meet Biden’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 from 2005 levels.