‘Build Back Better era’: Democrats compare spending bill to New Deal and Great Society

‘Build Back Better era’: Democrats compare spending bill to New Deal and Great Society
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History could look back on Democrats’ sweeping spending and infrastructure bills in the same fashion as the New Deal programs of the 1930s and Great Society programs of the 1960s.

At least that’s what Democrats are saying to sell the legislation as Senate Democrats scramble to come to an agreement on a final spending bill framework this week.

“We had the New Deal era. We had the Great Society, Civil Rights era. We are on the verge of delivering a Build Back Better era,” Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said in a press conference on Tuesday. “And we’re closer than we’ve ever been.”

“President Biden promised that we were going to lift up everyday American, not simply return to pre-pandemic normal. And that is what the bipartisan infrastructure agreement and the Build Back Better Act will deliver overall,” Jeffries said.

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Transformative policies enacted during President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal era included raising taxes on wealthy incomes, sweeping banking reforms and regulations, and the creation of Social Security, disability, and survivor benefits. Under President Lyndon B. Johnson, Congress passed many programs billed as part of the "Great Society," including Medicaid and Medicare, food stamps, and federal funding for schools.

The two spending bills that make up Biden’s Build Back Better agenda are a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, which passed with bipartisan support in the Senate and is awaiting a vote in the House, and a social spending package originally proposed to be $3.5 trillion that is being scaled back during negotiations with centrist Democrats.

Every Democratic vote is needed in the Senate to pass the legislation, though, and centrists Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona expressed opposition to the high $3.5 trillion price tag and some of its content. Originally proposed sweeping programs will be massively cut down, made temporary, or entirely cut out of the final bill. Free community college is out, and any paid family leave provision will be drastically scaled back. A program to penalize energy companies that do not increase their use of renewable energy was also cut.

Asked whether it was fair to compare the Build Back Better bill programs that may be temporary to the Great Society and New Deal programs still in place today, Jeffries signaled optimism.

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“We don't envision any of these programs being short-lived if they are lifting up the American people,” Jeffries said. He also called the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act the “largest single federal investment in infrastructure in the history of the Republic.”

Democrats hope to reach an agreement on the Build Back Better spending plan this week and have signaled that they want a House vote on the infrastructure bill this week as well.

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Tags: News, Congress, House Democrats, Hakeem Jeffries, Joe Biden

Original Author: Emily Brooks

Original Location: ‘Build Back Better era’: Democrats compare spending bill to New Deal and Great Society

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