Biden’s $3.5 Trillion ‘Build Back Better’ Plan Could Be Slashed to $1.9 Trillion — What’s Still in Play?

Biden, Hartford, United States - 15 Oct 2021
Evan Vucci / AP /

President Biden’s initial $3.5 trillion “Build Back Better” plan to aid in economic recovery could be trimmed down to somewhere between $1.9 trillion and $2.2 trillion in order to pass, Fortune reported. Democratic senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have opposed the plan as it stands. With the Democrats holding such a narrow majority in the house — and no Republican leaders in support of the plan — every Democrat vote is needed.

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A meeting between President Biden and congressional Democrats led to several proposed cuts in the plan. Free community college, state and local tax deductions and the carbon tax could be completely slashed.

So, what’s still in play, what could be offered in a reduced capacity and what elements of the plan are still up in the air? See for yourself below:

Universal Pre-K

Universal pre-K for three- and four-year-old children is set to remain untouched as of now. The White House said in a fact sheet that the program could benefit 5 million children, and the return on investment in a universal pre-K could be three times the cost.

Child Tax Credit

The advance Child Care Credit could be extended for just one year instead of the initially planned four, reported. The credit would still be fully refundable, though. It would also likely go back to the prior level of $2,000 per child six and older — not $3,000.

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Paid Leave

Biden’s original plan called for up to 12 weeks paid family leave for new parents, which is in line with several state programs today, including New York. The revised budget would only provide four weeks of paid leave, and would be phased out for families earning more than $100,000. This represents a substantial cut.

Child Care

Similarly, subsidized child care could be on the chopping block — at least to a degree. Democrats originally proposed a $90 billion allocation for child care for children under 5, reducing child care expenses to less than 7% of most family’s household income. It is unlikely this amount will remain.

Home Healthcare

Home healthcare assistance could be cut from a proposed $400 billion down to less than $250 billion, CNN reported.

Housing Assistance

Housing assistance in the form of down payment assistance, public housing vouchers and new construction funding could be reduced from $330 billion to $200 billion, Fortune stated.

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Medicare Expansion

A huge sticking point between progressive and moderate Democrats, according to Fortune, Medicare expansion may or may not make the final version of the bill. At the meeting Tuesday, Biden suggested a “pilot program” for seniors to get dental assistance through Medicare. However, it’s not clear whether the expanded benefits would include hearing and vision, Politico said.

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Climate Change Legislation

Biden stands strong on his commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030, but some of the funding for the program could be on the chopping block. It’s unlikely that Biden’s Clean Energy Performance Program to incentivize utilities and provide clean energy will make it into a final version of the bill.

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The “Build Back Better” legislation is being presented to Congress as a budget reconciliation bill, which eliminates the 60-vote filibuster threshold and allows the legislation to pass with a simple 50% + 1 majority. Democrats would like to see the bill passed through the reconciliation process by October 31, 2021, which could mean several compromises in regard to the programs it will pay for and to what extent.

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Last updated: October 21, 2021


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