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The Art of the Build Back Better Deal, Democrat Style

Reality is setting in. The package Biden will get will be far less than what he sought.
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President Biden in Scranton

In Search of a Deal

Biden said a proposal to provide 12 weeks of paid leave for new parents and caregivers had been reduced to four weeks. He said a plan to expand Medicare to include coverage for dental, vision and hearing was a “reach” because of opposition in part from centrist Sens. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D., Ariz.) but floated a potential $800 voucher to cover dental work. He confirmed that a tuition-free community college plan—a longtime priority for him and first lady Jill Biden—had been pulled because of a lack of support but that he hopes to increase Pell grant payments.

Behind the scenes, Mr. Biden told lawmakers Tuesday that Mr. Manchin’s opposition to a clean energy program, a key part of the bill’s climate change provisions, meant it would need to be scrapped. And he noted that Ms. Sinema had opposed raising tax rates on the wealthy and corporations, something he disclosed during the televised town hall.

Mr. Manchin is meeting in Delaware Sunday morning with Mr. Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), according to people familiar with the meeting. “These negotiations are—how do you thread the needle here?” said Louisa Terrell, the White House director of legislative affairs.

In the House, some Democrats want Mr. Biden to make fewer compromises with the two senators. “They need to continue to push this Congress, our colleagues in the Senate,” said Rep. Steven Horsford (D., Nev.), who spoke with Vice President Kamala Harris about it when she was in Las Vegas on Monday.

Mr. Horsford said he has urged Mr. Biden to resist Mr. Manchin’s push to add a work requirement and lower the income thresholds for the child tax credit, which according to the latest proposal would be extended at current levels for one more year instead of four. Mr. Biden said in the CNN town hall that he would oppose the work requirement on the child tax credit.

Two is More Important Than 100  

Progressives just cannot seem to come to grips that in terms of compromise that 2 in the Senate is more important than 100 Progressives in the House.

Without Manchin and Sinema in the Senate there is no deal at all. If the House insists on goals that Biden has dropped there will be no deal at all. 

That is what I hope for. No deal is the best deal. 

Fewer Programs For Longer or More For Shorter?

Recall that Manchin insists on a $1.5 trillion package and for fewer ideas of longer duration rather than a larger number of ideas for a shorter duration.

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Their idea is that once funded, the programs will never go away. That was my fear and it is Manchin's fear as well.

Upon reflection, I would rather see more more ideas of shorter duration, something the Progressive want.

If the funding is immediate and and ends in 2-3 years, Republicans can let time expire on the programs if they can win either the House or the Senate in the Midterms. 

Since that is now my baseline scenario, give the Progressives what they want, more programs, provided they benefits start now and there is a cliff before the next presidential election. 

The start date is important, however. Programs that start later rather than sooner may be harder to kill as the makeup of a further distant Congress is harder to see.

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