The “Build Back Better” Plan Takes Shape

Written by SK Ashby

We've known that President Biden's "Build Back Better" infrastructure spending proposal could be as large as $4 trillion, but the details of the proposal have been relatively nebulous during early discussions about it.

White House sources who spoke to multiple outlets have now given us a better idea of what the proposal will look like with differences of opinion on the size of the proposal but not the policies that will be included in it.

The Washington Post reports that the package will be split into two pieces, cost about $3 trillion, and include universal access to pre-school among other things.

White House officials are preparing to present President Biden with a roughly $3 trillion infrastructure and jobs package that includes high-profile domestic policy priorities such as free community college and universal prekindergarten, according to three people familiar with internal discussions. [...]

Biden’s proposal is expected to center on infrastructure spending, with hundreds of billions of dollars to repair the nation’s roads, bridges, waterways and rails. It also includes funding for retrofitting buildings, safety improvements, schools infrastructure, and low-income and tribal groups, as well as $100 billion for schools and education infrastructure.

The infrastructure component is expected to include $400 billion in spending to combat climate change, including $60 billion for infrastructure related to green transit and $46 billion for climate-related research and development. The plan also would aim to make electric-vehicle charging stations available across the country.

Sources who spoke to Reuters say the total cost will be closer to $4 trillion.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Joe Biden will be briefed by advisers this week on infrastructure, climate and jobs proposals being considered by the White House that could collectively cost as much as $4 trillion, according to people familiar with discussions. [...]

The price range does not include separate proposals to make child tax credits and other benefits to lower-income Americans in the latest stimulus act permanent, the second source said.

Whatever the case may be, the White House appears to be aware that reconciliation could be the only path to passing either part of larger proposal.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has already said that no members of his caucus will support the plan -- which is no surprise to anyone -- but a Republican filibuster of whatever comes to the floor is also expected. The Washington Post reports that the White House hasn't made a decision on how to get their plans through Congress, but they know how difficult it could be.

This is speculation on my part, but if the larger proposal is split into two parts with hard infrastructure on one side and other domestic priorities on the other, I think that's an acknowledgement that the former has a higher chance of passing on its own.

Centrist Senator Joe Manchin has said he would vote for raising taxes on the rich to pay for infrastructure, but he didn't say he would do it to fund some of the other proposals included in the plan. Splitting the plan into two parts could be an effort to persuade him, not Republicans. We all know Republicans aren't going to vote for anything regardless of what the policy is.

All of that aside, I am particularly pleased that the proposal includes funding for nationwide electric vehicle charging stations. Automakers are phasing out their fleets of gas-powered cars, but I have literally never seen an electric vehicle charger in person. Granted, it's not as if I've been out much during the past year of the coronavirus pandemic, but we are going to need chargers.