WASHINGTON DC, (Washington Insider Magazine) – There’s a lot to admire in the $1.8 trillion American Families Plan President Biden laid out this week before a joint session of Congress. COVID or no COVID, we like the feds subsidizing child care ($225 billion), and helping families with the rising cost of caring for aging parents and grandparents ($400 billion), and creating a national paid and family leave program ($225 billion). That the United States, despite generations of crowing about family values, makes it so hard for moms and dads to raise and support children is an epic embarrassment.
But Biden will have an uphill political battle in the weeks and months ahead not only due to reflexive Republican intransigence, but because his Families Plan is the third roughly $2 trillion spending proposal put forward in his first 100 days. Even those who rightly roll their eyes at chronic Republican hypocrisy on deficits are right to pause and take stock. A few trillion here, a few trillion there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.
Where Biden deserves great credit is that, unlike, say, the drug benefit in Medicare, which George W. Bush championed but never paid for, or the massive tax cuts Donald Trump pushed through, this president is laying out where he’d get the money: a marginal tax rate of 39.6% rather than 37% on the top 1% of earners, higher capital gains and dividends taxes for those who earn more than $1 million a year, and an investment in the IRS’ enforcement capabilities to help combat tax evasion. None of those pay-fors troubles us particularly.
This president needs to make the case for each element in his gargantuan social-service spending package, and be willing to right-size individual approaches or throw some overboard some in the interest of good-faith compromise, should there be any Republicans interested in negotiating.
Biden is certainly on the right path here, but the perfect — or in this case, the massive — can’t be the enemy of the good.