Washington, Oct 5 (EFE).- President Joe Biden on Tuesday agreed to reduce the cost of his social spending plan from its original $3.5 trillion level to about $2 trillion, a concession with which he hopes to convince moderate Democratic lawmakers to support it.
Biden acknowledged on Tuesday that the cost of his social reform will be “less” than he originally proposed, and he said he was certain that this would convince his party’s two moderate senators – Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, who have steadfastly been opposing the idea of spending $3.5 trillion on the plan – to go along with the reduced package.
Biden told reporters after visiting a union training center in Howell, Michigan, that it seems as if Manchin is changing his stance, adding that he hoped that was the case.
According to The Washington Post and The New York Times, the president said in both meetings on Friday and Monday with Democratic lawmakers was that he expected that the cost of his spending plan would ultimately wind up between $1.9 and $2.2 trillion, an enormous cut with respect to what he had originally proposed and a move that would require the Democratic spending wish list to be pared substantially.
Biden did not specifically confirm the new range on Tuesday, but he did say that he had accepted the fact that he will not be able to stick with the initial $3.5 trillion figure if he wants to get some kind of package passed in Congress.
According to The Post, Biden’s new proposal has not satisfied the progressive wing of his party, whose leader in the House, Pramila Jayapal, has been pushing for a minimum of $2.5 trillion in social spending.
Although that figure does not jive with the one put forward by the president, it is a sign that the White House has managed to get progressives to move away from their insistence on the full $3.5 trillion they had originally demanded.
On the party’s moderate wing, Manchin said Tuesday that he is not “ruling out” approving the spending plan in the $2 trillion range proposed by Biden, despite his original claim that he would not accept a spending package exceeding $1.5 trillion.
The president has made clear his frustration with Manchin and Sinema for failing to back that $3.5 trillion plan in the Senate, and his visit on Tuesday to Michigan was aimed at insisting that his reforms are essential to guarantee the future competitiveness of the United States and restore its role as a world leader.
“We’re at risk of losing our edge as a nation … To oppose these investments is to be complicit in America’s decline,” he said.
The president once again profiled both his social reform and his separate $1.2 trillion infrastructure spending plan as crucial for beating China, which is investing triple that amount in its own infrastructure, saying that the infrastructure package is needed to put the US on the level of wellbeing for its citizens enjoyed by the people in other developed nations.
“These bills are not about left versus right or moderate versus progressive or anything that pits Americans against one another,” Biden said. “These bills are about competitiveness versus complacency. They’re about opportunity versus decay. They’re about leading the world or continuing to let the world pass us by, which is literally happening.”
The president’s social spending plan seeks to increase spending on healthcare, education, care for children and the elderly and to deal with the climate crisis, among other issues. It is not clear if any of those issues would be excluded from the ambitious package if its cost is ultimately reduced.
If he retains the backing of both the progressive and moderate wings of his party, Biden could ultimately get the social reform passed in the Senate via a legislative mechanism known as reconciliation, which allows lawmakers to approve bills with a simple majority of 50 votes, which is exactly the number of seats the Democrats control in the upper house.