As Democrats cut spending, some Americans fear they will be left behind

WASHINGTON – Democrats in Congress are limiting ambitions for President Biden’s economic agenda, and Jennifer Mount, a home help, fears ...


WASHINGTON – Democrats in Congress are limiting ambitions for President Biden’s economic agenda, and Jennifer Mount, a home help, fears she won’t get the raise she needs to pay more than $ 3,000 in bills for blindness in one eye.

Edison Suasnavas, who arrived in the United States from Ecuador as a child, is concerned about the administration’s efforts to establish a path to citizenship, which he hoped would allow him to continue to do so. molecular testing for cancer patients in Utah without fear of deportation.

And Amy Stelly wonders – thanks to a winnowing of Mr. Biden’s plans to invest in neighborhoods damaged by previous infrastructure projects like highways that have harmed communities of color – if she will continue to breathe the fumes of a freeway that, she says, constantly makes her New Orleans home shudder. She has a message for the president and the Democrats who are trying to wrap her sprawling agenda in a shrinking legislative package.

“You come to live next door to that,” Ms. Stelly said. “You live this quality of life. We are suffering while you debate.

Mr. Biden began his presidency with a costly and sweeping program to rebuild the US economy. But under the strain of Senate negotiations and rules, he put aside a series of his most ambitious proposals, some of them indefinitely.

He was thwarted in his efforts to raise the federal minimum wage and create a path to citizenship for undocumented migrants. He cut investments in lead pipe removal and other efforts that would help communities of color. Now as the president tries to get the votes of the moderates in his party he is reducing what was originally a collection of $ 3.5 trillion in tax cuts and spending programs to what could be a package of $ 2 trillion or less.

It’s still a huge spending program, which Biden says could change the landscape of the economy. But a wide range of Americans who have trusted his promises to reshape their work and lives are hoping the programs they bank on will survive the cut; otherwise, they risk waiting years, if not decades, for another window of opportunity in Washington.

“The problem now is that this may be the last train to leave the station in a long time,” said Jason Furman, economist at Harvard Kennedy School and one of President Barack Obama’s top economic advisers. . “It might take five, 10, 20 years before there is another blow to a lot of these issues.”

Mr. Furman and other former Obama administration officials have seen firsthand how quickly a presidential program can shrink and how Presidential and Congressional decisions can leave campaign priorities unanswered for years to come. Mr. Obama prioritized an economic stimulus package and the creation of the Affordable Care Act over sweeping immigration and climate legislation in the early years of his presidency.

Past stimulation and health care. The other two don’t.

A similar fate could now befall Mr. Biden’s plans for home care workers, paid time off, free child care grants, free preschool and community college, investments in racial equity and, again, immigration and climate change.

If Mr Biden is able to push through a compromise bill with major investments in reducing emissions, “he has an engine he is working with” to tackle climate change, former senior official John Podesta said from Mr. Obama and President Bill Clinton. . “If he can’t get it, then I think, you know, we’re really kind of in the soup, facing a major crisis.”

Republicans criticized the spending and tax increases that would help fund it, saying the Democratic package would hurt the economy. Democrats “just have an insatiable appetite to raise taxes and spend more money,” Rep. Steve Scalise, Republican of Louisiana, said on Fox News Sunday this week. “It would kill jobs.”

The threat of Republican obstructionism has blocked Mr. Biden’s plans for gun and voting legislation.

For now, however, the president’s biggest problem is his own party. He is negotiating with progressives and moderates on the size of the bigger tax and spending package. Centrists like Senators Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona pushed the price to fall below $ 2 trillion. Mr Manchin said he wanted to limit the availability of certain programs to low- and middle-income people. Progressive groups go to great lengths to ensure that their preferred plans are not entirely wiped off the bill.

The House has proposed investing $ 190 billion in home health care, for example, less than half of what Mr Biden originally requested. If the price continues to fall, Democrats would almost certainly have to choose between two concurrent goals: expanding access to older Americans in need of babysitters or raising the wages of those workers, a group disproportionately made up of women of color.

Another proposal included in Mr Biden’s original infrastructure bill was a $ 20 billion investment for infrastructure that divided communities of color, although the funding was reduced to $ 1 billion thanks to a compromise with Republican senators.

Ms Stelly thought the funds, along with the president’s sweeping climate change proposals – which could also be shrunk to appease centrist democrats – would finally lead to elected officials attacking the highways emissions that filled his lungs and darkened the windows of his house.

Ms Stelly, an urban designer, has since limited her expectations. She said she hoped the funding would be enough to at least publish another study of the highway, which claimed dozens of black-owned businesses and the once prosperous Tremé neighborhood.

Some Democrats are eager to incorporate as much as possible into the bill because they fear losing the House, Senate, or both in next year’s midterm election. Mr Podesta urged lawmakers to view the package as a chance to avoid those losses by giving Democratic incumbents a bundle of popular agendas to run, and also giving the president political victories that could define his legacy.

Mr Biden has promoted some of his policies as ways to reverse racial disparities in the economy and lift families battling the coronavirus pandemic out of poverty.

Ms Mount, who immigrated to the United States from Trinidad and Tobago, said she appreciated her work helping older Americans and the disabled with eating and bathing and helping them stay at home. them. But his pay for his long hours – working about 50 hours a week for $ 400, sometimes – made it effectively impossible to stay on top of payments for basic needs.

She had hoped that Mr Biden’s plan to raise the minimum wage or the wages of home helpers would mean that she would no longer need to choose between her electricity bills and her medical expenses. She said the treatment improved her blindness, but without a pay raise for her field, she is more confident that she will work for the rest of her life.

“I have to make a choice: should I go to the grocery store or pay my mortgage? Do I have to pay my water bill or pay my electricity bill? Said Ms. Mount, who lives in Philadelphia. “With that, the retreat looks BLACK, all in all caps. What do I have there for retirement?

When Mr. Biden initially offered two years of free community collegeMs. Mount, 64, was encouraged by the future opportunities for her six grandchildren in the United States. But she fears that the effort will also be cut.

“This is politics from above,” she said. “Sometimes they still seem detached.”

Some measures Democrats have long promised voters have gone against Senate rules that dictate policies the administration should include in bills that use a special process to bypass filibuster, including an increase in the minimum wage and a plan to offer citizenship to immigrants brought to the United States as children.

When the Senate parliamentarian rejected strategy, this led Mr. Suasnavas, who has lived in the United States since the age of 13, to consider the prospect of possible deportation; he should leave behind his job as a medical technology specialist, as well as his 6-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son.

“We hoped that politicians in Washington – Democrats and Republicans – will not only see the economic impact we can bring to the country, but also that we are still people with families,” said Suasnavas, 35. “Our hearts have been broken so many times that it feels like another wound in your skin.

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Newsrust - US Top News: As Democrats cut spending, some Americans fear they will be left behind
As Democrats cut spending, some Americans fear they will be left behind
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