President Biden bit off too much, too fast in trying to ram through what would be the largest social expansion in American history, top Democrats privately say.
Why it matters: At the time Biden proposed it, he had his mind set on a transformational accomplishment that would put him in the pantheon of FDR and JFK.
- Democrats, controlling two branches of government, saw a once-in-a-lifetime opening. In retrospect, some top advisers say this should have been done in smaller chunks.
An outside White House adviser said: “Reality is setting in that you can’t pass a $3.5 trillion package. It’s going to get scaled back. The question is whether it can be done this year.”
- In branding some Democrats wish had started months ago, White House chief of staff Ron Klain said Sept. 15 at the SALT financial conference in New York: “The net cost of Build Back Better is zero.”
The $3.5 trillion price tag covers the 10-year cost of Biden’s infrastructure plans, plus massive social spending, including pre-K for all 3- and 4- years olds, and two years of tuition-free community college.
- Biden needs to show lawmakers on the left he’s with him on topics like this, when he’s being pulled to the right on immigration.
- The proposal was always an opening bid. The White House points out that the final figure is still being negotiated.
But the big number stuck and is the near-universal way Biden’s plans are described.
- The New York Times’ David Leonhardt said on CNN earlier this month that the price “highlights a political weakness of how the Biden administration … They haven’t given anyone any other way of selling the bill because it’s sort of such a hodgepodge of different things.”
The White House points to polling showing the components of Build Back Better are popular, and emphasizes $3.5 trillion as a “gross investment figure” that’ll be paid for through tax increases.
White House spokesman Andrew Bates told us:
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Mike Allen