Democrats hold the presidency, a slim majority in the House of Representatives, and a slimmer majority in the Senate.  That makes for messy procedure when you’re trying to do stuff, as Jonathan Bernstein says.

But I think it bears pointing out what’s going on here.

Not even counting the pandemic related stimulus that was approved in the spring, here’s what Democrats are working on:

Infrastructure Bill.  It’s been labeled $1.2 trillion, but you need to remember two things with that.  It’s a 10 year bill, which means, if you go from that number, it’s an extra $120 billion a year.  Plus, this bill repurposed funds which were “leftover” from the pandemic bill.  So, new spending was just $550 billion or $55 billion a year for 10 years.  This bill includes funding for:

  • Roads
  • Bridges
  • Rail
  • Broadband
  • Airports
  • Ports
  • Waterways
  • Electric Vehicles
  • Electric Grid
  • Water infrastructure
  • Superfund cleanup

Build Back Better Bill.  Also known as the Reconciliation Bill.  Or the bill that costs $3.5 trillion.  Except of course that number is over 10 years, so it’ll be $350 billion per year.  Plus, moderate to conservative Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have said they won’t vote for the $3.5 trillion top line and, if they vote for it at all, it’ll be in the range of $1.5 to $2 trillion.  So, an extra $150 to $200 billion a year.  While some of these items may fall out during negotiations (or the funding for them may be reduced), here’s what this bill is aimed at:

  • Two free years of community college
  • Child care and universal Pre-Kindergarten
  • Expanding Medicare to include Dental, Hearing, and Vision coverage
  • Extending the child tax credit from the pandemic relief bill through 2025
  • Allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices
  • Paid family and medical leave
  • Climate change

The other thing about this bill is that they’re trying to find ways to pay for this spending, so that it doesn’t add to the deficit.  They would like to raise taxes on corporations and those who make over $400,000/year.  They would raise the capital gains tax and beef up enforcement at the IRS to help catch tax evasion.

As I write this post, it’s up in the air whether the Infrastructure Bill will be passed.  Progressive Democrats, who prefer the Build Back Better bill, are concerned (rightly I think) that if they pass the Infrastructure Bill, moderates will say that is enough and not help pass the Build Back Better bill.  So the Progressives are trying to use their leverage in the House to vote against (and defeat) the Infrastructure Bill unless and until they get, at least, an assurance from moderates on the other bill.  It’s very messy.  At the end of the day, though, hopefully all of the Democrats realize that they need to pass both of these bills not just for the country, but also for their electoral chances in 2022.  Stay tuned!