The Democrat leadership in the Senate stitched together a $3.5 trillion investment plan that will help President Joe Biden meet his spending promises in areas like healthcare, climate change and economic safety net for the underprivileged.
The new $3.5 trillion investment plan is touted as the 'human infrastructure' plan, coming as it does after the proposed $1.2 trillion bipartisan bill that focuses building physical infrastructure like roads and bridges.
Fully Paid by Tax Hikes
The plan would seek raising more tax revenue, but will he prohibit further tax load on small businesses and people making less than $400,000. Meanwhile, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia said categorically that the new spending will be funded with tax increases.
The details on the tax increases were not provided, but liberal Senator Bernie Sanders said it envisages further taxes on the wealthy. "The wealthy and large corporations are going to pay their fair share of taxes so that we can protect the working families of this country ... If we pass this, this is the most profound change to help American families in generations," Sanders said.
The 50 Republicans in the Senate are not expected to endorse the spending plan, as it involves rolling back of tax breaks and raising taxes for the wealthy. This means that the Democrats will have to resort to passing the bill under a budget 'reconciliation' process that circumvents the rule that at least 60 votes are needed to push the legislation through the Senate.
Expansion of Medicare
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the $3.5 trillion agreement includes provisions for the expansion of the Medicare healthcare program for the elderly. The plan boosts Medicare, by bringing the coverage for dental, hearing and vision healthcare in its ambit.
President Biden is slated to meet the Senate Democrats on Wednesday to discuss the bill. "Joe Biden is coming to our lunch tomorrow to lead us on to getting this wonderful plan that affects American families in a so profound way, more than anything that's happened to generations," Schumer said, according to NBC News. "We are very proud of this plan. We know we have a long road to go. We're going to get this done for the sake of making average Americans' lives a whole lot better."
When combined with the $579 billion infrastructure deal agreed by both the Republicans and the Democrats, the new proposal will amount to $4.1 trillion in fresh spending.
'Most Significant Legislation Since the Great Depression'
"This is the most significant piece of legislation passed since the Great Depression, and I'm delighted to be part of having helped to put it together," said Sanders, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.
Some liberal Democrats had been calling for larger infrastructure spending, to the tune of between $6 trillion and $10 trillion. However, Biden and the moderate Democrats urged them to strike the middle ground, in the face of the Republican disapproval amid already high government commitments in the wake of the pandemic and the economic paralysis it brought forth.