Is House right to pass the nearly $2T Build Back Better Bill?

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Fact Box

  • On November 19, 2021, President Biden’s nearly $2 trillion Build Back Better Framework was passed 220-213 by the House. Biden stated, “Leading economists and independent experts on Wall Street have confirmed that it will not add to inflationary pressures. Instead, it will boost the capacity of our economy and reduce costs for millions of families.”
  • The bill’s (HR 5376) budget resolution topline goals include universal pre-k for 3-4 year olds, paid family leave, two years free of community college, paid family and medical leave benefits, “targeted funding” for housing (with a focus on the homeless), offers protection for “undocumented immigrants” who entered the US before 2011, and more partisan priorities.
  • Since President Biden’s inauguration, he has issued the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package, mask and vaccine mandates, revoked Trump’s “Remain-in-Mexico” policy, and many others
  • Visualize a trillion dollars: if $1 trillion were stacked in $100 dollar bills, it would rise 40,000,000 inches high or 631 miles. The US national debt, as of September, surpasses $28 trillion.

Joanna (Yes)

The House's approval of the Build Back Better Act (BBBA) is a victory for the American people because it allows them to survive the remainder of the pandemic with potential for future growth. As Americans cope with domestic devastation from COVID-19 and growing income inequality, a government focus on prospects such as affordable housing and expanded Medicare can mean life-saving relief for certain lower-income, senior, and disadvantaged citizens. These proposals and others in the BBB, such as universal paid leave and capped insulin costs, provide tremendous ease to lower and middle-income families. 

The concern of American families isn't solely financial, which is why universal preschool, as proposed in the BBBA, is an excellent investment in America's future. The well-being of our children and their future adulthood is highly influenced by the quality and accessibility of their education. Similar preschool investments have shown how students, and subsequently future community members, benefit greatly long-term. 

The act also keeps children in mind by making room for potentially another 9 million K-12 students who would otherwise go to class hungry to receive free school meals.

The bill's enactment would additionally provide the largest investment towards fighting climate change in history and would commence the Civilian Climate Corps' aid in that fight. As climate change's advancement continues to largely depend on human involvement, this is an investment that the US and the world can't afford to dismiss. Overall, this innovative bill creates a brighter future for Americans by building a more robust economy and equitable infrastructure. The immediate provisions certainly help citizens now, but the long-term effects will benefit Americans for generations.

Noah (No)

Inflation and infrastructure are two very important issues that affect every American citizen and international visitor of our country. However, simply printing money to pay for infrastructure hurts rather than helps the economy. 

We can see the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic spending from our government. Prices have risen partly because, since the pandemic, 40% of US dollars currently in circulation were printed in the last year. America has gained $3 trillion in debt since the start of the pandemic, and the deficit has reached 15% of GDP, surpassing 1945. Inflation is at its highest rate in 30 years; to pump more money into the economy would only inflate the dollar's value further. We cannot keep spending ourselves into 'financial collapse' and economic destruction. 

Sometimes it's necessary to spend on infrastructure, but there are a lot of useless spending components in this bill, the largest of which is $174 billion in electric vehicles (EVs) and building a network of 500,000 EV charging stations. The federal government doesn't build gas stations, so we shouldn't be drowning in debt for things like charging stations. Until we can get control over government waste like $48 billion in improper Medicare payouts, and $2.1 billion converting an abandoned mental hospital, we need to stop printing money and spiraling into further debt. 

The current generations and the generations yet to be born will be saddled with paying off this debt through tax hikes and skyrocketing prices. As Milton Friedman put it: 'Inflation is taxation without representation,' the $2 trillion infrastructure bill contributes to this concept and should not have been passed.

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