How Biden’s ambitious agenda is nibbled away

Joe Biden’s legislative ambitions are getting a serious haircut – pieces of his agenda are cut, chopped or abandoned.

He took office with a transformative agenda spanning climate change, healthcare, children’s policy, immigration and taxes.

He is still urgently trying to push through changes on these fronts and will be in Pennsylvania today to promote them.

But a cold political reality has set in. Biden does not have the congressional super-majorities former Liberal Transformative Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson.

These game-changer Democratic presidents benefited from the fact that their party held nearly three-quarters of the seats in Congress, while under Biden they held a ultra-thin advantage in both bedrooms.

As a result, their best chance in a generation to advance their priorities is to cram everything into one bill – a budget bill, which under the Senate rules, can, unlike most laws, pass a simple majority vote.

Two senators pruning the president’s plans

Yet two senators in particular have pruned the president’s plans: Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

The bottom line? A package that progressives once hoped could cost $ 6 trillion US, and Biden had set at $ 3.5 trillion, could contain $ 2 trillion at most.

It is if it passes at all.

Eager to progress ahead of the Virginia governor’s race on November 2 where defeat would demoralize Democrats, Biden hits the road to sell the plan.

“The president certainly feels an emergency,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

Manchin’s requests are best known because he constantly makes them publicly, in interviews and editorials.

He is a rare Democrat elected in the conservative South. West Virginia is a coal state; he tried to dilute the climatic provisions in particular.

US President Joe Biden is hopeful the finish line may be in sight for the passage of his landmark spending bill. But it will be smaller than he expected. (Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)

Sinema’s demands are not so clear.

She rarely speaks to the press, and even her Senate colleagues have described the former Green Party activist as impenetrable behind closed doors.

Saturday Night Live laughed at her and polls suggest she risk of being dislodged in a 2024 party primary; There are satirical pieces pretending to guess his psychological motivations.

Either way, Biden needs their two votes or his legislative agenda is toast. And here’s what it looks like.

Climate proposal could affect Canada

The centerpiece of Biden’s climate program is a zero-carbon power grid by 2035. It’s a big change for a country where power generation represents nearly a third of emissions.

The plan would pay utilities if they met renewable energy targets – and demand payment from companies that don’t.

This is the heart of what Biden hoped to talk about when he and 13 members of his cabinet Head to the Glasgow Climate Summit later this month.

But Manchin doesn’t have it.

The state coal senator worked in the coal industry and has always has abundant stocks in fossil fuels. He says the energy sector is already in transition and does not need government subsidies.

Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia introduced on September 30, is constantly followed by congressional reporters, who record every one of his statements about how he might vote on key legislation. (Andrew Harnik / AP)

“It just doesn’t make sense,” Manchin told ABC News this summer of the current plan.

A New York Times report says the plan is dead. Other reports say it’s not quite dead but in limbo, and that Manchin presents counter-proposals that would benefit fossil fuel companies and invest in carbon capture.

A energy think tank says The utilities plan represents at least a third of the emission reductions Democrats hope to achieve through this bill and a related infrastructure project.

Democrats still have other climate policies if that goes down.

Canada should pay special attention here: a proposal could hurt investment in vehicle production in Canada, and it’s already talking commercial prosecution and retaliation.

Democrats want to subsidize electric vehicle purchases through consumer tax credits – but favor vehicles assembled in the United States

Separately, Biden signed executive orders like one to reduce hydrofluorocarbon emissions.

Immigration reform unlikely

It looks grim for immigration reform.

The return of the Democrats to power had fueled the hope of millions of people who had lived in the country for a long time without official status to obtain the right of legal residence.

The system has not been updated in decades and is mocked by both sides of the political aisle on several fronts – inhuman, and unsafe and ineffective for the economy.

Exhaust fumes rise from a coal-fired power plant in Haywood, West Virginia, in 2018. Manchin, a state senator, says the transition to cleaner energy is already underway course and does not need a new major program. (Brian Snyder / Reuters)

Parties fail to agree on reforms and this has left simple majority budget voting as the best chance for change.

But the parliamentarian who interpreter Rules of the Senate, Elizabeth MacDonough, a twice declared this The Democrats’ immigration plans are not budget measures and have no place in the bill.

Democrats could, in theory, ignore the parliamentarian; some insist they did not give up getting limit immigration changes in the bill.

But immigration advocates lose patience with the administration and stage a virtual outing of a meeting this month.

Children’s policies

The Biden program calls for radical changes in family policy – nationwide paid leave for new parents, a first in the United States; universal preschool; childcare subsidies; and a multi-year extension of one family allowances modeled in part on that of Canada.

Many of these ideas can be found in a final bill, but in smaller versions.

Manchin wants to cut costs. Regarding family allowances, he said for months that there would have to be income limits to qualify and also wished for a work requirement for parents.

This worries advocates of the current temporary program, which is part of a pandemic bill in which families were awarded an annual tax credit of $ 3,600.

Allison Bovell-Ammon, who advised Congress on the measure, said the pandemic program has been a huge success.

Census data show an immediate drop almost a quarter of the percentage of households with children suffering from insufficient food.

“We’ve heard from families about how transformational this has been,” said Bovell-Ammon, director of policy strategy at Children’s HealthWatch, a Boston-based research organization.

She said adding income limits creates new problems.

First, she said the income cap, which would be US $ 60,000, is too low for some areas of the country, such as Boston, where the cost of living is high.

An anti-immigration protest in Washington last month. Immigration advocates are growing impatient with Democrats and fear the opportunity for much-coveted reforms will pass. (Leah Millis / Reuters)

She also said the program would become more difficult to administer, less popular and ultimately less likely to continue to be funded.

She said there’s a reason the most sustainable social programs in the United States for seniors – affecting pensions and health care – are universal.

She said the proposed job requirement would also hurt people in difficult situations, including full-time caregivers.

“We made a political decision years ago that the elderly in the United States should not live on a property. And I think we should make the same decision for children,” she said. .

Expanding health care

Just over a year ago, Democrats were discuss health insurance for all. Joe Biden’s platform didn’t go that far but he proposed a public program any American could join.

Either would have been transformative in a country where more than 10 percent of the population has no health insurance.

It was then.

The set goals by the Congressional Democratic leadership for this budget bill were more modest: an expanded public system for the elderly, to include dental, vision and hearing benefits, and new funding for other existing programs.

They would also let the US government negotiate with drug companies for drugs distributed in public programs, as happens in other countries.

This is designed to reduce drug costs and save the federal government hundreds of billions this decade, helping to foot the bill.

Yet several Democrats oppose the health proposals. In the House of Representatives, several Democrats have voted against the pharmaceutical plan, and it would be fought by Sinema, which holds a decisive vote in the Senate.

These partner’work to say she doesn’t agree yet.

Sinema, who has been described in the media as a favorite from the pharmacy industry, has said little publicly.

But she has struck down Democrats for delaying the final vote on the $ 1,000 billion bipartisan infrastructure bill she worked on, in order to prioritize the larger budget bill.

Sinema called this “inexcusable”.

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