The Biden Budget: Responsible investments in our future
Editor’s note: The following statement was issued Monday, June 7 by Deborah Weinstein, Executive Director, Coalition on Human Needs, in response to President Biden’s budget proposal. For a detailed description of the Biden Administration’s FY 2022 budget’s investments, see this special edition of the Coalition on Human Needs’ Human Needs Report.
“President Biden’s budget is responsive to our needs and responsible to our future. Instead of ignoring government’s failure for years to maintain and improve the basic building blocks of our economic security, the budget makes investments our nation badly needs.
“Those building blocks include physical infrastructure: roads, bridges, transit, housing, water and sewer lines, and utilities, including broadband. And at least as important, the Biden budget recognizes that we must also invest in our human infrastructure. We cannot sustain economic growth if all Americans do not have access to a good education, from preschool through college. As we have painfully learned through the pandemic, we place ourselves at life-threatening and economic risk if we do not invest in public health protections and vastly improved access to health care. We need care workers for our children and for those aging or with disabilities if we are to help workers to stay in the labor force. We need all of our workers to have the opportunity to make their best contributions, so must ensure they are protected from discrimination, whether by race, gender, religion, immigrant status, or disability. We must also protect our people, and especially our children, from poverty and hunger.
“The Biden budget invests in all these ways. It incorporates the Administration’s American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan, which will create millions of good jobs, rebuilding and modernizing our infrastructure, providing essential care, and protecting our environment. These plans rebuild our economic security, making important strides forward by extending the expansion of the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit, building more affordable housing, expanding access to health coverage, maintaining child nutrition improvements, and making preschool and community college free and child care more affordable. The American Jobs Plan invests $81 billion over 10 years in job training, apprenticeships, and subsidized jobs, specially targeting people with the lowest incomes, young adults, justice-involved people, and dislocated workers. It invests $400 billion over a decade in home care for the aging and for people with disabilities, increasing pay as well as adding desperately needed new positions. The American Families Plan will ensure that families with low and moderate incomes do not pay more than 7 percent of their income on child care. The expanded Child Tax Credit, judged instrumental in cutting child poverty in half starting in July, will be extended to 2025. We hope Congress will make this vital assistance permanent, as the Biden budget proposes for the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit for workers without dependent children.
“The Biden budget combines long-term investments with substantial new initiatives in next year’s appropriations. For example, increased funding will allow 200,000 additional rental housing vouchers in FY22. Funding for K-12 education in low-income communities more than doubles, with $20 billion in new Equity Grants, to come close to wiping out the funding gap between majority white and majority non-white schools. Substance use disorder and mental health treatment are significantly increased. Domestic and non-military international appropriations would grow by 16.5 percent in FY22 in the President’s budget. This is the first year that appropriations caps have expired, and the Biden Administration is intent on making up some of the erosion that has occurred over the past decade.
“Congress can build on the ground-breaking Biden budget by writing into law the expansion of Medicaid that would cover 2.2 million people left uninsured because their states refuse to adopt Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. It could also enact unemployment insurance reforms, to prevent states from paying rock-bottom benefits, and could add housing vouchers to the American Jobs or Families Plans, so they are not solely dependent on annual appropriations.
“Just as a responsible homeowner repairs a roof before leaks lead to serious damage, the Biden budget takes responsible steps to prevent children from falling irretrievably behind in their education, and to provide child care so parents can return to work before they lose too much ground in the labor force. The budget would prevent more widespread crumbling of our infrastructure, and will reduce the threat of evictions, hunger, and illness. Keeping families from experiencing these harms can prevent long-term damage that family members may not be able to overcome.
“The budget takes many steps to ‘build back better,’ and one of the ways it does this responsibly is by requiring profitable corporations and wealthy individuals to pay their fair share of taxes. Now they do not. 55 Fortune 500 corporations paid no taxes last year despite making over $40 billion in profits. Recent estimates show the average tax rate for corporations as only 7.8 percent within two years of enactment of tax cuts in 2017; lower than the rate paid by people with low incomes. By taking reasonable steps towards more equitable tax policy, the Biden Administration estimates that over the next decade, revenues will rise to 19.9 percent of GDP, from its current 16.3 percent. Revenues from fair sources should rise, so we can make the investments we need for shared and sustained prosperity. Outlays as a share of the economy decline, from just under 33 percent in FY21 to nearly 25 percent in FY31, as estimated in the budget. Our economy can and must make the investments in all the building blocks of our future. We can readily afford it. In fact, failure to make the needed investments would be a reckless disregard for what our people and our economy need.”