What's in, and what's out, as Biden offers scaled-back plan | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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What's in, and what's out, as Biden offers scaled-back plan

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of N.Y., speaks to reporters following a Democratic strategy meeting at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON (AP) — After months of talks with Democratic lawmakers, President Joe Biden outlined Thursday a $1.75 trillion framework to support families and education as well as protect against global warming.

The updated plan includes universal preschool, funding to limit child care costs and a one-year continuation of a child tax credit that was expanded earlier this year and applied to more families. But Democrats are scaling back some investments and shortening the timeframe for funding in order to whittle down spending.

The framework fits an approximately $1.75 trillion budget over 10 years, rather than the $3.5 trillion budget plan originally envisioned. Paid family leave and free community college have been jettisoned, while increased Medicare coverage has been scaled back.

Still, Democrats are hoping the programs will prove so popular that future Congresses will continue to fund them in the years ahead. It seems unlikely that any Republican will support the measure.

Negotiations are fluid and the package is very much in flux. It also won't be possible to fully assess the details until legislative text is released. But here's where the framework stands so far, according to the Biden administration:

Negotiations are fluid and the package is very much in flux

— The child tax credit increase would continue for another year. As part of a COVID relief bill, Democrats increased the tax credit to $3,000 per child age 6-17 and $3,600 per child age 5 and under. Budget hawks worry that a one-year extension is a budgetary tool that will lower the cost of the program on paper, but mask its true costs since lawmakers tend to continue programs rather than let them expire.

— Medicare will be expanded to cover hearing aids but not dental and vision. Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona objected to the other components. The hearing aids expansion will cost $35 billion over 10 years.

— Expanded tax credits for insurance premiums tied to the Affordable Care Act would be extended through 2025. The White House said it would help 3 million uninsured people gain coverage.

— Commit $150 billion toward housing affordability with the goal of building more than 1 million new rental and single-family homes. The goal would be to reduce price pressures by providing rental and down payment assistance.

— Continue for one year the expanded Earned Income Tax Credit that goes to 17 million childless workers.

— Universal prekindergarten for all 3- and 4-year-olds and child-care subsidies for poorer and middle-income Americans are still in. But only for six years.

— Provide $40 billion for higher education and workforce development. This includes raising the size of Pell Grants, funding for historically Black colleges and universities as well as institutions where students are largely Hispanic or serve tribal communities.

— Biden’s plan calls for parents earning up to 250% of the state’s median income to pay no more than 7% of their income on child care. Parents must be working, seeking a job, in school or dealing with a health issue to use this program.

— Fund $320 billion worth of clean energy tax credits. These credits over 10 years would help businesses and homeowners to shift to renewable energy sources for electricity, vehicles and manufacturing.

— Direct $105 billion toward investments that would improve communities' ability to withstand the extreme weather caused by climate change. The funding would also create a Civilian Climate Corps.

— Provide $110 billion to help develop new domestic supply chains and develop new solar and battery technologies. Also being supported would be the existing steel, cement and aluminum industries.

— Use $20 billion for the government to become the buyer of clean energy technologies as part of the procurement process.

— Provide $150 billion for a Medicaid program that supports home health care, helping to clear a backlog and improving working conditions.

— Provide $90 billion for investments that would include funding maternal health, community violence initiatives, disadvantaged farmers, nutrition and pandemic preparation.

News from © The Associated Press, 2021
The Associated Press

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