The US House of Representatives approved this Friday, after months of tension, an ambitious social spending plan that aims to shape a good part of Joe Biden’s legacy as president in the domestic sphere. The figures and the reconstruction narrative resonate in the New Deal of the 1930s. In total, there are more than 1.75 trillion dollars, which includes the expansion of public health, 18,000 million for public early childhood education, 150,000 million for care of dependent elders, 200,000 million for paid sick leave, 150,000 million for accessible housing or more than 500,000 million for initiatives against climate change. This latest chapter is two weeks late. The lack of agreement for its approval prevented Biden from credibly leading the Glasgow Climate Summit and demanding large commitments from others. The expense is paid for with a tax increase that, according to the White House, will not affect the middle class. If approved in its entirety, millions of Americans will experience for the first time something vaguely similar to a European social state. Nancy Pelosi called it “the pillar of financial and health security in America.”
While the law is still in jeopardy, partial passage provides a powerful political push to prop up Biden at a worrying moment of declining popularity, and produces an instantaneous change of atmosphere much needed by the Democrats, who promised much to voters. to get the White House and a majority in both Houses. Rightly, his latest catchphrase is: “Time to deliver.” Biden warned his lawmakers that the entire presidency depended on this moment. If the social spending plan is added to the gigantic infrastructure plan approved last week (1.2 trillion dollars) and the direct aid for the covid-19 crisis (1.9 trillion), the Biden Administration will have watered the economy with about five trillion dollars (four times the GDP of Spain) in its first year.
With a tie in seats and a radical Republican opposition, Democrats cannot lose a vote in the Senate process that now begins. The initial plan, driven by the progressive wing, amounted to $ 3.5 trillion. It was downgraded substantially by opposition from two self-styled moderate senators, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. They have not yet pledged to vote in favor. But the Democrats and the president have ended the rough bargain. It would be very risky to start the 2022 election year with this pending. Manchin and Sinema now have to walk the narrow line between legitimate skepticism (after all, they represent non-progressive constituencies) and boycotting the most voted president in history.