Wednesday, December 8

White House cuts social spending plan in half to ensure approval | International

Joe Biden, this Thursday at the White House.
Joe Biden, this Thursday at the White House.JONATHAN ERNST (Reuters)

After days of long and discreet meetings with Democratic legislators on the social and environmental plan that has faced the party, President Joe Biden went to the Capitol on Thursday and then offered a press conference to celebrate a “historic economic” project. The initial figure of 3.5 trillion dollars (about three trillion euros) has been cut in half after internal disputes over the total amount and specific spending items. “It is a framework that will create millions of jobs, make the economy grow” and also “turn the climate crisis into an opportunity,” Biden said after a last-minute but decisive intervention in the Democratic confrontation, before traveling to Europe to attend the G20 summit in Rome and COP26 in Glasgow.

The social agenda that Biden’s administration will mark was too important not to try to resolve the impasse before crossing the Atlantic, so the president went to the Capitol to meet with the Democratic leaders, present his cut plan and trust that it will. they will support in Congress.

The plan for a “true transformation of America” ​​is now considerably smaller, 1.75 trillion dollars, but Biden is confident of achieving Democratic unity to put his economic agenda in motion and take flight. The investment in the fight against climate change is maintained with an item of 555,000 million dollars and the door will be opened to free education for children between three and four years old with the disbursement of 400,000 million. But the guarantee of paid maternity leave – the United States is the only developed country where this last benefit does not exist – and of assistance during sick leave, as requested by progressive legislators and activists, will be left out of the social agenda.

“Everyone is on board,” declared a proud Biden upon arrival at the Capitol. His presence also served as a warning to those Democrats wary of communing with the White House that they will harm the party if they do not close ranks. The midterm elections are in a year and the polls do not bode well for the Democrats. “No one, not even me, has obtained everything he wanted,” the president acknowledged to the press, already in the White House, from where he was preparing to leave for Europe.

The White House emphasized that the $ 1.75 trillion of the plan will be financed through new taxes, such as the 15% tax imposed on large companies; the 5% increase in taxes for those who earn more than 10 million dollars a year and 3% more for those who exceed 25 million. To the chagrin of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, the Biden Administration will not implement a proposal to levy a tax on some 700 American millionaires who earn more than $ 100 million a year or whose assets are valued at more than $ 1 billion, as is the case of entrepreneurs Jeff Bezos (Amazon) and Elon Musk (Tesla).

Despite the fact that the Democrats are experiencing a moment of control of both Houses of Congress – albeit with very tight majorities – the initial intention of investing in two economic plans close to six trillion dollars – an amount that placed them at the level of the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt or the Great Society of Lyndon B. Johnson – has suffered a bath of political realism and the progressive wing of the party has had to give in to the resistance of moderate senators Kyrsten Sinema (Arizona) and Joe Manchin (West Virginia). ), whose vote is crucial in the upper house.

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Both politicians have ended up stopping in part the ambitious reforms of the president, who has spent months living under pressure from some and disenchantment from others, while his popularity falls. Such a panorama was well worth a quick round trip to the Capitol before taking off for the two appointments that await him in Europe.

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