After Decades of Work by Advocates, Build Back Better Makes Live-Changing Investments for Ordinary People
The preliminary Build Back Better framework that the White House released has propelled progressives to urge members of Maine’s congressional delegation to ensure a final deal includes all the vital programs that Mainers and Americans need to thrive now and into the future.
The Build Back Better framework is a major and historic victory for progressive activists and progressives in Congress, funds vital programs in health care, poverty relief, green jobs, and education, and marks a major advancement in creating a roadmap to citizenship for millions of people living and working essential jobs in the United States.
The framework invests about $1.75 trillion in child care, education, affordable housing, green building, jobs and energy, and health care, with an additional $100 million for immigration reform. This bill, among other things:
- Extends the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for one year and extends the Child Tax Credit (CTC) for one year. It also makes the CTC permanently available to the lowest-income parents, by making it fully refundable. Combined, the CTC and EITC are putting more than $500 million a year into the pockets of low-income Mainers and Maine families.
- Makes major investments in home care: The Build Back Better framework includes the most transformative investment in home care since Medicaid began authorizing these services. This downpayment in our country’s care infrastructure acknowledges that care is at the heart of our economy, something we all need at some point, and a job enabling industry that can jumpstart our economic recovery.
- Caregiving families will also receive a boost with investments in child care and early education that will make it possible for more parents to return to the workforce, knowing that their children are safe and well cared for.
- Closes the Medicaid coverage gap, allowing 4 million uninsured people to gain coverage in uncovered states, and extends expanded Affordable Care Act premium tax credits through 2025. Experts predict this means more than 3 million people who would otherwise be uninsured will gain health insurance.
- Allocates $150 billion to build, preserve, and improve affordable rental and single-family homes, including public housing, plus rental and down payment assistance.
- Increases Pell Grants for low-income college students and expands free school meals.
- Introduces a package of clean energy tax incentives for a wide range of industries, invests in environmental resilience measures including a Civilian Climate Corps, and provides $130 billion for the federal government to develop, encourage the private sector to develop, and buy renewable energy technologies.
- Provides $100 billion to improve the U.S. immigration system.
It also funds these investments by making historic changes to our tax code by requiring the super rich and huge corporations to pay an amount that’s closer to their fair share, and cracking down on them when they try to avoid paying taxes.
“These victories are the result of unceasing and tireless work by progressive activists here in Maine and around the country. Now, It’s time to get this across the finish line alongside the bipartisan infrastructure bill, and to let our Maine congressional delegation know that their constituents need them to vote yes on this package,” said Amy Halsted, Director of the Maine People’s Alliance.
While the overall impact of Build Back Better will be very positive, there are some areas in which the package falls short. This is not a final package, and there is still time for negotiation on these issues. These issues include:
- Prescription drug negotiation: Not included in the Build Back Better package is the right for Medicare to negotiate with drug makers on the price of pharmaceuticals. Right now, Medicare Part D and private insurers pay about twice as much for prescription drugs as does the Veterans Health Administration, which has the right to negotiate directly with drug companies.
- Medicare dental and vision coverage: The BBB framework includes coverage for hearing, but not for dental and vision services.
- Paid family leave: The 12 weeks of paid leave for new parents and other caregivers was pared back during negotiations to four weeks, and then ultimately removed from the proposal. Approximately 181,000 Mainers (nearly one in 10) care for a family member who is older or has a disability. That’s only going to increase as the U.S. population ages, and paid family leave is vital not only for caregivers and their families, but for the stability of our communities as a whole. Caregivers are likely to be low-income and would benefit tremendously from paid leave.
- Free community college: This plan doesn’t include free community college, an idea that’s popular across the political spectrum and would create a pathway to the middle class for many low-income people, particularly people of color.
- Billionaire’s Tax: Only about 700 of America’s most obscenely wealthy individuals would pay this tax, and it would likely generate hundreds of billions of dollars for programs from which all Americans could benefit, not just a few.
- Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP): This program would give electricity companies, cities and towns and providers incentives to use more renewable energy .