As the great infrastructure and social investment plan arrives before the US Parliament, the stakes are high for President Joe Biden. Explanations.
What is the plan Build Back Better ?
During his 2020 campaign, Joe Biden promised to “Build back better” America post-Covid: repair major infrastructure, fight against global warming and reduce social and racial inequalities. On “physical” infrastructures (roads, bridges, high speed trains, renewable energies, charging network for electric cars, etc.), he gained the support of Republican party moderates, agreed to invest 1,200 billion dollars over ten years.
But the right does not want the social component, valued at $ 3.5 trillion and financed by tax increases, which would establish a European-style welfare state: maternity leave, two years of free nursery and higher education , glasses, hearing aids and cheaper drugs … There, the Democrats must fend for themselves.
Why is this an emergency for the US President?
Its popularity sank by ten points – more than 45% of favorable opinions – during the summer, with the breathlessness of the vaccination, the fiasco of the withdrawal from Afghanistan and its management of migrants at the Mexican border, too lax for Republicans, not human enough for progressives. He must bounce back. However, time is running out as mid-term elections loom, still difficult for the power in place, in November 2022. Joe Biden risks losing the tiny Democratic majorities in the House of Representatives (six seats) and especially in the Senate (one voice).
Where does it get stuck?
Democrats are divided in Congress, where a first vote is scheduled for Thursday, September 30, 2021. Centrist Senators Joe Manchin (West Virginia) and Kyrsten Sinema (Arizona) – who negotiated with the moderate right the infrastructure component to 1.2 trillion dollars – deem “exorbitant” the 3500 billion of the social component, dear to progressives like the representative of New York Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The left wing threatens: if the social budget is not adopted, the infrastructure plan will not be either. Joe Biden canceled a trip to Illinois to play firefighters.
Can Democrats Afford To Fail?
No. For the President, it is his place in history, like Roosevelt, the father of New Deal 1930s, or Jimmy Carter, defeated in 1980 after a lackluster tenure. For democratic parliamentarians, it is their re-election that is at stake. Either they agree, and they will have enough to mobilize decisive electorates – poor minorities, young people, mothers and retirees. Either they are stubborn, and a slap is announced in the ballot box.