All the mainstream news media, from CNN to The Wall Street Journal, is talking about a “$3.5 trillion reconciliation bill.” Though reporters and news anchors may have forgotten the bill’s actual name (I know I did), they are referring to the “Build Back Better Act.” Now, the bill in further jeopardy.
The Cost, the Cost, the Cost!
The thing that is most noted about the bill is the cost. The cost! The cost! The cost!
There’s no doubt that $3.5 trillion is a lot of money, even when spread over a 10-year period. But in an era of burgeoning billionaires… relatively speaking… is it really that much? (Whatever happened to millionaires, anyway? Are they the upper middle class now?)
But some critics of the “Build Back Better Act” suggest $3.5 trillion is NOT nearly enough to fix America’s infrastructure, much less the climate crisis.
The Value! The Value! The Value!
Smart money-people know that good value per buck is the important thing. The value! The value! The value! In other words, what good does the “Build Back Better Act” provide for Americans?
This is the part of the bill that mainstream media is sketchy about. Let’s become better informed, on our own. We’ll go to the original source.
The “Build Back Better Act” doesn’t coddle and elevate large corporations. This bill is the one that uplifts regular people. It’s filled with people-oriented policies and programs. It addresses “a broad array of areas, including education, labor, child care, health care, taxes, immigration, and the environment.” Here’s the outline of the specific social benefits, copied almost word-for-word, from the H.R.5376 summary at Congress.gov.
- Better funding for…
- The National Forest System
- Job placement and career services
- Safe drinking water, energy-efficiency, and weatherization projects
- Electric vehicles and zero-emission, heavy-duty vehicles
- public health infrastructure and supply chain resiliency
- Housing, rental, and homeowner assistance programs
- Cybersecurity programs
- Tribal infrastructure, housing, environmental, and health programs
- Wildfire prevention, drought relief, conservation efforts, and climate change research
- Small business assistance and development
- Transit services and clean energy projects in low-income communities
- Infrastructure and administration of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
- New programs to provide…
- Up to six semesters of free community college
- Free childcare for children under the age of six
- Free universal preschool services
- Health benefits for eligible individuals who reside in states that have not expanded Medicaid
- Additional provisions that…
- Establish a methane fee for certain petroleum and natural gas facilities
- Expand Medicare to cover dental, hearing, and vision care
- Provide certain aliens with a path to permanent resident status (e.g., those who entered the United States as minors)
- Provide up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave
- Restructure and increase the tax rates for certain corporations and high-income individuals (e.g., individuals with income over $400,000) *
- Require the Department of Health and Human Services to negotiate maximum prices for certain brand-name drugs under Medicare
* Note the bill’s provision that would increase taxes for “certain corporations and high-income individuals.” This is the impetus of low-information coverage by most U.S. mainstream news media, which are owned and sponsored by big corporations and billionaires. Naturally, mainstream news has a pro-corporate bias. Obviously, an exaggerated focus on funding creates a negative impression of the “Build Back Better Act,” implying it is wasteful.
Erum Salam at The Guardian gives an excellent overview of the major benefits in the “Build Back Better Act,” as well covering the limitations of the bill. The truth is, the bill has already been scaled back from its original vision and funding. In terms of large scale national provisions, $3.5 trillion can only buy so much. The amount is adequate for a small impact, but it does not fund a serious push for economic justice and climate action.
I always urge people to add independent outlets to their news consumption, to get a fuller (more realistic) picture of what’s going on in the world. In the video below, independent Canadian political commentator David Doel laments the negative narrative that cloaks the “Build Back Better Act.” And he celebrates how Representatives Cori Bush and Jamaal Bowman capitalized on a rare network news opportunity to set the record straight.
What Does It Cost to Be Cheap?
Every wise consumer is aware of the sweet spot between extravagant and cheap. It’s known as “best value for your buck.” Americans need to get best value out of the “Build Back Better Act,” in order to stave off the culminating disasters of runaway inequality and the climate emergency.
Meanwhile, President Biden said yesterday, on October 19th, that Democrats may concede to further reductions in the “Build Back Better Act” that would lower funding to $1.7 trillion. Watch today’s Democracy Now headlines (1:12) for an overview of the details and reactions to Biden’s announcement.
What can you do?
The National Organization for Women (NOW) quickly put out a “Build Back Better Act” action alert. Other organizations will do, or have done, the same. The basic action? Make calls to your U.S. Senators and Representatives!
You may use the Capitol Switchboard number, 202-224-3121, to reach any Congress Member. If you’re unsure who represents you, tell the switchboard what state you live in. They’ll connect you to the correct office. Callers often end up speaking to staff members. That’s good enough. The staff provide citizen feedback reports to their Senator or Representative.