Biden’s build back better bill is in shambles. From an initial budget of $6 trillion for the fiscal year to the $3.5 trillion vote in August, the newest revision of government spending is down to $1.75 trillion.
Let’s recap. There were two bills set to be voted on: the initial $1 trillion bipartisan vote which was passed back on Aug. 10 and the $3.5 trillion resolution to begin the reconciliation process, which passed the next day.
Two months later, after a bipartisan agreement despite having a majority in Congress, Biden and the Democrats have nothing but crumbs to offer to the American people.
So how did this happen? Wasn’t the entire point of passing a reconciliation plan so that the Democrats only needed a simple majority? Haven’t House and Senate progressives been fighting for months to gather support for the bill? Yes and yes.
However, corporate influence in Congress prevailed once more, as centrist Democrats in the pocket of pharmaceutical and coal companies had their eyes set on spearing the bill before it even started. Enter Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.
Joe Manchin (D-WV) raked in nearly $500,000 in income during 2020 from his coal and energy company Enersystems, which he founded in 1988. Manchin also owns a $5 million stake in the company while additionally receiving nearly $800,000 in donations from fossil fuel corporations in 2020 alone according to opensecrets.org.
Kyrsten Sinema, another centrist Democrat, has also played her card in blasting the bill. The Arizona Senator has taken nearly $750,000 in donations from pharmaceutical corporations throughout her career and has vigorously opposed the $3.5 trillion spending bill but has never said why. Videos have surfaced of the senator being questioned by students, passing citizens and members of the Media on her basis for voting “no” to no avail.
Curiously, immediately after Medicare and green energy tax credits were ripped from the bill earlier last week, Sinema and Manchin both agreed to vote for the bill.
But what does this mean for the American people? Well, don’t be born with any medical conditions except diabetes, don’t have children, don’t be placed in circumstances that force you to attend community college, and don’t be broke. But hey, at least your roads will be less … hole-y.
Paid family leave was dropped from 12 weeks to 4 weeks. Free community college will likely be dropped or cut. R&D manufacturing was cut completely. Housing, school and building spending was cut completely. Clean energy tax credits were cut completely. Home and community-based care was cut completely and all but two sectors were downsized.
This has been a continuous cycle of incompetence by the Democratic party. While the progressive caucus has been fighting desperately for the Biden administration, more moderate Democrats know that they hold all the power in Congress.
Bernie Sanders, while being clear of his reluctance, has confirmed he will vote yes for the $1.75 trillion bill and House progressives such as Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Rashida Talib, and Ilhan Omar have also voiced support in voting YES to the reconciliation budget.
It’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Midterm predictions for the Democrats are abysmal, and a GOP controlled Senate is looking ever more inevitable. Constituents of the Democratic party are becoming frustrated with the Biden administration, and this bill, coming in at nearly $5 trillion short of expected is nothing less than disappointing. If Dems vote NO, it’s “why didn’t you at least give us something,” and if the Dems vote YES, it’s “we should have gotten more.”
But a progressive vote of NO does do something more; it shifts the power back in their favor. Moderate Democrats know that they can whip the progressives into their agenda, and it’s something that has always barred progressive legislation from truly flourishing in American politics. An impending YES vote on this bill only furthers this cycle of Moderate American policy in a time where social and economic progress is vital in harboring a clean and prosperous future.
A vote NO could be poised to call out Democratic incompetence, shifting the blame of this bill off the backs of progressives, and back onto the likes of Sinema, Manchin, and of course the ghouls that are GOP politicians.
But we live in a country dominated by Liberalism. Media corporations that bastardize movements of left-wing policy, funded by the very corporations said policies would hit, continue to play into this absurdity of “bipartisanship over benefit.”
To feel a sense of powerlessness and infuriation at those in power is natural and warranted. But there are things you can do until the next election cycle. Unionize your workplace, develop local power and influence through electorate groups in your area; get involved any way you can.
Progress can be a long road of failure and disappointment, but any dent you make in the system that has failed you — and millions of other Americans — is a dent worth fighting for.