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Here’s what could go in a Democratic social-spending bill costing $1.5 trillion — Manchin’s limit

MarketWatch logo MarketWatch 10/15/2021 Victor Reklaitis
© Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget
IN ONE CHART

What could end up in Democrats’ social-spending package after it gets a haircut, and how could it be paid for?


Video: Democrats still pushing multi-trillion social spending bill (FOX News)

One think tank in Washington — the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget — put forward ideas on that question this week, saying it’s aiming to “help frame the discussion.” That’s as negotiations among Democratic progressives and moderates continue over the sweeping measure targeting “human infrastructure,” climate change and other party priorities.

A key moderate, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, has said he would support a social-spending package costing no more than $1.5 trillion, well below the $3.5 trillion that President Joe Biden and other party leaders have backed. Another moderate, Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, also has objected to spending $3.5 trillion, leading the White House to consider toplines that range from $1.9 trillion to $2.3 trillion.

See: Pelosi aims to pass infrastructure bill by Oct. 31, as $3.5 trillion social-spending plan seen shrinking

So the CRFB has floated a $1.5 trillion “illustrative” framework that the think tank says “reforms and extends expansions of the child, child care, and earned income tax credits, enacts free community college and preschool for middle-class families, strengthens the Affordable Care Act (ACA), funds climate change and infrastructure efforts, and supports state child care programs.”

The outlays would be funded “mainly with higher tax rates, improved tax compliance, and lower prescription drug costs,” the CRFB said in a detailed report. Below is a table from the report giving a breakdown of the potential outlays and revenue.

Another think tank, the Progressive Policy Institute, also has put out a proposal for a social-spending package that might satisfy the Democratic Party’s moderates and liberals.

The PPI’s blueprint, released Oct. 5 and featuring a price tag of $2 trillion, puts $975 billion toward an expanded child tax credit, universal preschool and other programs for families. It provides $600 billion for initiatives related to climate change, along with $425 billion for bolstering the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

A recent Slate column has floated a way to structure a $1.5 trillion package, too. There could be $240 billion for a “child tax credit extension that Manchin can live with,” as well as $435 billion for climate programs, $330 billion for Obamacare, $140 billion for universal pre-K, $165 billion for paid parental leave and $200 billion for dental, vision and hearing benefits for Medicare enrollees.

What’s more, the CRFB put forward a $2.3 trillion framework on Tuesday (matching the White House’s possible new limit) in conjunction with its $1.5 trillion proposal. Below is a table from the think tank showing how the bigger plan would go further.

Now read: Here’s what’s in the bipartisan infrastructure bill that the House aims to pass — and how it’s paid for

Plus: Here are Washington’s new deadlines for infrastructure, a government shutdown, the debt limit and more

This report was first published on Oct. 13, 2021.

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