Democrats Roll Out $3.5 Trillion Spending Blueprint
Updated: Aug 10, 2021
Democrats on Monday rolled out the outlines of the budget bill they intend to write over the next month, and it is simply enormous.
The top line number of $3.5 trillion is certainly huge. (Here is the text)
But at a time when we've gotten used to throwing around gargantuan numbers, take a moment to consider some of the elements that we're talking about here.
It aims to make the most serious efforts yet at curbing climate change, make the most vigorous effort since early in the Obama administration at rebalancing the taxes of corporations and the wealthy, and has an overhaul of the healthcare system that in dollar amounts is larger than the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
Start with climate. Scientists have been saying for decades now that the United States and the world need to do much more. Indeed, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change climate report released Monday says emphatically that it is already too late to prevent severe, lasting harm.
Really, this bill isn't commensurate with what the science says, but it would be the first law that genuinely accelerates the effort. While it doesn't put specific numbers on most of the specific policies, it is clear that between tax policies to encourage clean energy and direct spending on research, efficiency, technology and a Climate Conservation Corps, it adds up at least to hundreds of billions.
In health care, it would tackle a bunch on long-running and expensive issues such as paid family and medical leave; expanding the Affordable Care Act, expanding Medicare to include dental, vision and hearing benefits (and at least talking about lowering the age for Medicare); dealing with health care provider shortages, expanding long-term care options for seniors and persons with disabilities (this could be $400 billion alone); lowering the price of prescription drugs; investing more in primary care; spending to correct historic deficiencies in maternal and behavioral care, and racial health care, and boosting pandemic preparedness.
The original cost for the ACA was just shy of $940 billion. This would be more. And while it seems unlikely that the eligibility age for Medicare will be lowered (sources say the cost in even a bill this large would be too much) the fact that it is even being discussed as a goal makes it more likely to happen in the future.
Those are just two of the enormous areas of spending.
Republicans are resolute in opposing the measure, and have settled on a tactic of branding it a socialist wish list. Their hope would be to make the measure an issue for voters in states such as Arizona and West Virginia, where Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin (respectively) have signaled greater antipathy than their colleagues to adding to the debt.
According to the numbers specified in the bill, debt would grow from about $30 trillion next year to $41.2 trillion in 2031.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) argued in a letter to colleagues Monday morning that Democrats need to not just sit there and respond to such GOP attacks, but make an affirmative case for the legislation on how it helps regular Americans.
"It is critical that we go on offense during the recess to explain to the American people how our budget will lower costs and cut taxes for American families," Schumer wrote.
"At its core, this legislation is about restoring the middle class in the 21st Century and giving more Americans the opportunity to get there," he wrote. "By making education, health care, child care, and housing more affordable, we can give tens of millions of families a leg up."
The memo is embedded here:
The letter is here: