In the heat of August, Congress often is anxious to get out of town and passes legislation that would shock the American people if they knew the details. As a public service, here is a short summary of what the Senate just passed and teed up for action by the House—all with the support of President Biden who is anxious to sign the measures into law.
First, the Senate approved a $1.9 trillion bi-partisan “hard infrastructure” bill, of which $110 billion would go to repair highways, bridges and roads. It also includes spending for water systems, rail lines, broadband and more, but the 2,700-bill tacks on many slush funds for Green New Deal initiatives, racial equity, and labor union expansion.
In a 4 a.m. vote, the Senate also passed a separate $3.5 trillion budget framework that is the Progressives’ dream in “fundamentally transforming the United States of America,” as former President Obama promised in 2008.
The “blueprint,” drafted by Sen. Bernie Sanders and supported by zero Republicans, gives instructions to committees to write legislation that would allocate massive spending on countless projects that put the federal government smack at the center of American life.
It would spend vast sums on what they call “soft infrastructure:” paid family and medical leave, subsidized child care, extending the expanded child tax credit, combatting climate change, universal pre-kindergarten, tuition-free community college, and opening doors to legal status for millions of undocumented immigrants. Etc.
On health care, it would:
- lock in the “temporary” increase in Obamacare spending to boost payments to health insurers and make government subsidies available to even the wealthiest Americans
- create a new program to provide Medicaid coverage to people in states that opted out of expansion
- add new spending and benefits to the nearly-insolvent Medicare program by lowering the eligibility age and providing vision, dental, and hearing benefits (that already are available to seniors who enroll in many Medicare Advantage plans).
The list goes on and on. It also includes “pay-fors” that include confiscatory taxes on the pharmaceutical industry and calls for action that would lead to government price controls on prescription drugs in Medicare that will hinder innovation.
The $3.5 trillion package is packed with progressive policy initiatives left out of the bipartisan infrastructure legislation. Leaders will use the reconciliation process to pass it without any Republican votes.
There will be a battle this fall over the amount of spending—West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin has expressed qualms—and the order of passage.
But unless the American people rise up to let members know they object to these huge bills—that will add massively to the federal budget deficit and fuel inflation—there will be little standing in the way of a signing ceremony to fulfill President Obama’s 2008 dream of transforming America with an all-powerful federal government dominating American life.
We will continue to follow these and many other issues over the recess but will take a short break from AmericanHealthCareChoices newsletter. We will report on important developments in the meantime, but hope you enjoy a much-needed summer break.