WASHINGTON - Don't make things worse. That's the advice of former U.S. health secretaries of both parties to President Trump and the GOP-led Congress, now that "Obamacare" seems here for the foreseeable future. The 2018 sign-up season for subsidized private health plans starts Nov. 1, with about 10 million people currently served through HealthCare.gov and its…
President Joe Biden met with congressional Democrats on Capitol Hill Thursday morning to pitch lawmakers on a new slimmed-down framework for what would be included in a massive social reform package, according to senior administration officials.
The $1.75 trillion blueprint that Biden presented to Democrats includes a universal pre-K program for 3-and-4 year-olds, limits child care costs so that families do not pay more than 7% of their income, and extends funding for both for six years. Those two programs are estimated to cost $400 billion.
It would also extend for a year the expanded child tax credit; improve long-term care for seniors and people with disabilities; extend expanded tax credits for the Affordable Care Act; and provide the tax credits to 4 million uninsured people in states where Medicaid has not been expanded.
Notably Biden's new plan does not include paid family and medical leave, a major initiative which had been included in earlier versions of the Build Back Better plan before it was trimmed to meet demands from moderate Democrats.
Paid leave would set groundbreaking policy in the U.S., which is one of six wealthy countries in the world where no national paid parental policy exists. Most daycare centers don't accept newborns until they are six weeks old.
The White House said that Biden developed the new plan after “hearing input from all sides and negotiating in good faith with Senators Manchin and Sinema, Congressional Leadership, and a broad swath of Members of Congress" and is confident his plan could pass Congress.
Biden also spoke to the nation Thursday morning, just before he left for a long-planned trip to Europe and a major climate conference.
Democratic support unclear
The framework he presented to Democrats also provides $550 billion for climate change policy, ranging from tax credits for clean energy to investments in making communities climate resilient through a civilian climate corps.
The plan would be paid for with a 15% minimum tax on the corporate profits that large corporations — those with over $1 billion in profits — report to shareholders, as well as a new surtax on the income of multi-millionaires and billionaires, the wealthiest 0.02% of Americans, the White House said. It would apply a 5% rate above income of $10 million, and an additional 3% surtax on income above $25 million.
It's unclear if Democrats will support the new framework, particularly two Senate Democrats, Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, who have objected to tax raises on corporations and four weeks of paid parental leave.
House progressives have also warned that they want to see the bill's legislative text before making a decision to vote on the package.
The leader of the House Progressive Caucus, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), said that she has an idea of what's in the framework, but wants to see the bill's text, according to Capitol Hill pool reports.
“We want to see the actual text because we don't want any confusion and misunderstandings," she said. “My understanding is that the framework is very general. So let's turn it into legislative text. If 90% of the text is already written as the speaker has said, then it should be very quick — we can do anywhere from two to seven days."
Several major policy initiatives that Biden campaigned on have been stripped from the framework, such as paid parental leave, free community college, and climate change policy such as the Clean Energy Performance Program, which incentivized utilities to switch to clean energy and penalized those who don't.
Democrats also tried to include an expansion of the Affordable Care Act to include dental benefits in Medicare. The framework Biden is expected to show to lawmakers would help reduce premiums and have Medicare cover hearing services.
Democrats have also struggled to include immigration policy in the package after the Senate parliamentarian ruled that lawmakers cannot create a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented people through reconciliation, the process being used for Build Back Better that requires just a simple majority vote in the evenly divided Senate.
The White House specifies that it would “reform our broken immigration system, consistent with the Senate's reconciliation rules." Some advocates have pushed for lawmakers to overturn the parliamentarian's ruling in the interests of getting immigration reform enacted.
The framework Biden is presenting to lawmakers would provide $100 billion to help reduce immigration backlogs, expand legal representation and help with processing at the border.
Pennsylvania Capital-Star is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Pennsylvania Capital-Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John Micek for questions: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Facebook and Twitter.
Alec Baldwin retweeted a news article about “Rust” assistant director Dave Halls telling officials he “should have checked” all the rounds during a gun inspection on the movie’s set. The article, which was published by the New York Times, referenced a search warrant affidavit released Wednesday, less than a week after cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was fatally wounded by a shot from a prop firearm that was being handled by Baldwin. In the affidavit, investigators say Halls told officials he “could only remember seeing three rounds” when he inspected the gun. “He advised he should have checked...
The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol is considering contempt proceedings against former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.
"Meadows was first subpoenaed more than a month ago, and since then the committee has indicated he's been 'engaging' in negotiations over the terms of his turning over documents and appearing for a deposition. But weeks after the committee granted Meadows a 'short' but indefinite postponement of the initial subpoena deadline, members are growing increasingly frustrated and contemplating when and how to ramp up the pressure," CNN reported Thursday.
When Meadows was subpoenaed, the committee said he "reportedly communicated with officials at the state level and in the Department of Justice as part of an effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election or prevent the election's certification. According to other reporting, Mr. Meadows was also in communication with organizers of the January 6 rally, including Amy Kremer of Women for America First."
The committee is anxious to learn more from Meadows.
"Among the options being considered is officially setting a new deadline for Meadows to comply with the committee's subpoena or risk being held in criminal contempt, the path it pursued with Trump ally Stephen Bannon. After making clear from the outset that he had no intention of cooperating with the panel, Bannon now faces possible prosecution for defying his subpoena," CNN reported.
When the committee pursued a criminal referral for Bannon, Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) worried about the precedent set if witnesses were able to blow off the investigation.
"We need to take a stand for the integrity of the Select Committee's investigation, and for the future integrity of this body. What sort of precedent will it set for the House of Representatives if we allow a witness to ignore us flat-out without facing any kind of consequences? What message would it send to the other witnesses in our investigation?" he asked.
Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Raw Story Investigates and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.
$95 / year — Just $7.91/month
I want to Support More
$14.99 per month