Building Back Better: A Comprehensive Look At Joe Biden’s Bill

By: Oliver Angert (Reporter '24)

The Build Back Better plan is the biggest piece of legislation to come out of the Biden administration so far. It narrowly passed the house, at 220 to 213 votes, and it still has to pass the senate. Some senators, like Chuck Schumer and Amy Klobuchar, are trying to get that to happen by Christmas. The biggest opposition to its passing comes from a Senator from West Virginia, Joe Manchin, and a Senator from Arizona, Kyrsten Sinema, who are fiercely halting any and all effort to pass this bill, even though it comes from their own party.

What is the Build Back Better plan? It’s a lot. There are twenty two separate sections on the Whitehouse website where you can find the framework for the plan: https://www.whitehouse.gov/build-back-better/. The five main headings of the sections are divided as follows: the most transformative investment in children and caregiving in generations; the largest effort to combat climate change in American history; the biggest expansion of affordable health care in a decade; the most significant effort to lower costs and strengthen the middle class in generations; the Build Back Better framework is completely funded.

Each section has four subsections, except for the fourth section which has six. Let's start with the first one--childcare. This plan offers free preschool for all three and four-year-olds and claims to save American families over half of the money they are currently spending on childcare. This new plan will involve tax cuts of three hundred dollars a month per child or $3600 per a year. Secondly, the investments for slowing climate change are some of the biggest the United States has ever seen. While this framework does provide a large sum of money to promote clean energy and jobs, it doesn’t do anything to stop energy companies from polluting the earth right now. In fact, the Build Back Better website doesn’t have a single mention of restricting pollution in any way; it simply relays how the government will provide “incentives'' (tax breaks) to clean energy companies. Despite these intentions, they seem to be missing the mark completely on the action that would be most transformative for the United States: lowering our carbon footprint. It’s as if they are trying to build a new floor to an apartment building while the rest of it is on fire. The third on the list of initiatives is all about increasing access to affordable healthcare. This plan is set to reduce the cost of prescription drugs, give Medicare coverage to four million uninsured people, reduce premiums for nine million people, and give hearing coverage. All in all, this section delivers on its promise to increase access to healthcare. It isn’t the universal healthcare that some European countries have implemented, but it’s a step in the right direction. The final initiative is centered on strengthening the middle class. This section seems to be the most full of political hand waving, as many of the things it talks about--immigration reform, nutrition security, earned Income Tax Credits, and affordable housing--all seem more like good policies that have been combined rather than given their own section of the framework.

Last and most importantly, how do we pay for all of this? Simply, we must make rich people pay more money. If you make over $400,000 dollars a year, any money you make over that amount will be taxed higher. The plan also repealed the Trump-era rebates that lowered taxes for wealthy people and corporations, which is another effective way to make back money. As a whole, this plan is set to be a huge benefit to the average person, the only question remains is if it will pass. As always, only time will tell.