Reconciliation Takes Shape

Written by SK Ashby

Senate Democrats are expected to reveal the size and exact details of a "soft" infrastructure spending bill at some point this week, but Axios reports that the legislation will initially weight in at about $3.5 trillion.

Among many other things, Politico reports that the package will include free breakfast, lunch, and dinner for kids and will make the expanded child tax credit permanent.

Progressives want the package to support free meals in every public school, including breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for all kids, no matter their family income. The pandemic effectively acted as a trial run for the policy, after the Agriculture Department eased requirements for schools to provide free meals to any student.

Biden has already extended that flexibility through June of next year, the end of the upcoming school year. [...]

Biden’s social infrastructure plan already calls for extending Democrats’ recent expansions of the child tax credit, Earned Income Tax Credit and a tax break subsidizing child care expenses. Democrats are expected to throw in a new tax perk for renewable energy as well.

Also likely to be included: federally subsidized Build America Bonds, which lower the cost of state and local borrowing for infrastructure projects; plus an expansion of the New Markets Tax Credit, which encourages investments in low-income areas; and tax subsidies for affordable housing.

Axios is framing this outline as if it were a setback for progressive Democrats, but I don't see it that way.

If the final package is over $3 trillion, and if President Biden manages to pass his bipartisan deal for "hard" infrastructure spending, the total of the two combined will be close to $4 trillion. That's about how much Biden initially called for spending when he first took office. I would call that a clear victory no matter your priorities. No one is going to get everything they want, but that is never the case. There are no perfect spending bills and there will be plenty of things to like even for the most proud leftists.

Politico also reports that most of the cost will be covered by taxes on the rich, but the exact details of those plans aren't available yet.

Some congressional Democrats also reportedly want to include immigration reform in the package, but I think we can say that's not going to happen. Reconciliation can only be used to adjust the federal budget.