Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Plan was a key selling point of his presidential campaign. It was his equivalent of FDR’s new deal, a large comprehensive $2 trillion dollar bill that covers almost all aspects of American life. A much-needed bill, some would say, in response to America’s crumbling infrastructure and the dents made by the pandemic. It was a compromise between both the progressive and moderate wings of the Democratic Party.

Highlights of the Bill

The climate change provisions. This includes tax credits and customer rebates aimed at reducing the cost of switching to clean energy; green technology to be manufactured in the U.S.; large investment into nature regeneration projects; a general increase in funding for environmental technologies; and a specific investment into aiding disadvantaged communities.

The Affordable Care Act. This aimed at reducing prescription drug prices and premiums to help 9 million more Americans gain insurance.

The largest investment in affordable housing construction, ever. This envisioned new construction, rehabilitation of old buildings and improvement to current affordable housing, ensuring millions can become first-time homeowners.

Seeing 17 million people covered by the Earned Income Tax Credit programme (EITC), allowing workers to keep more of their money post-tax.

And finally, ensuring that large companies pay their taxes by placing a 15 per cent tax on those companies whose profits exceed $1 billion. A further aim was to place a 15 per cent tax on profits for U.S. companies who earn abroad to avoid outsourcing.

Bill Blockers

All in all, Biden’s ambitious bill aims to reinvest in American society, bring in green and well-paying jobs, ensure disadvantaged people get a share of the investment, and improve society overall.

There is just one problem; the above plans have yet to see the light of day due to a range of actors blocking the bill.

The Republican Party is expected to oppose any legislation Biden puts forward. How come? Competition. They seek to embarrass Biden in order to increase their chances in the next election. However, this form of opposition is the least concerning. It was to be expected that the Republicans wouldn’t buckle in their opposition, given that there is no real incentive to do so. Additionally, they are ideologically opposed to an increase in public spending, and they are politically incentivized to challenge the administration. So nothing new here.

When it comes to playing spoiler, the most infamous of the people is Joe Machin the Democratic senator from West Virginia. He is one man but due to the construction of the state, a 50/50 split, he controls the direction of all bills. The opposition of Joe Machin ensures no bill will pass. The reason he gives varies, but often it comes down to two aspects; he thinks the bill is too costly, and he can’t bring it back to the coal mining state of West Virginia.

On the first issue, the overall cost of the bill has already been brought down to appease Machin and it is fully self-funded. He himself has been estimated to have cost the American public $60 billion, due to his refusal to sign the bill. On the second issue, the bill is overwhelmingly popular in West Virginia — one of the poorest states and one of the regions of America most likely to benefit. So both of his arguments don’t really hold up to scrutiny. However, at closer inspection, the reasoning for blocking the bill is a practical and strategic one. Joe Manchin is funded by the ‘coal lobby’, as such, he tries to help them in the Senate as best he can. Any opposition to Biden’s bill helps their profits, whereas passing it threatens to reduce them considerably. Machin has proved to be the most prominent obstacle to Biden’s agenda, prompting some to question the actual power and willingness of this White House.

The Progressive Group

The progressive group within the Democratic party present a different obstacle to the Biden agenda and the Build Back Better bill. This group is made up of some notable and famous members; Bernie Sanders, AOC, and Ilham Omar, among others. They have all supported the BBB bill but have been heavily critical about its scope. In essence, they think the problem is much larger and so requires more funding. Their most notable demands include; Medicare for all (public healthcare), the Green New Deal (a bill in the same vain as BBB but with greater scope), and increasing the minimum wage to at least $15 per hour. This group has been heavily critical of Joe Manchin for stopping the build back better bill, as they recognise its necessity. However, they have also been critical of the Biden administration for its limited vision for the country and its reluctance to reprimand Joe Manchin.

The result of the Democratic Party infighting is a weakened president and the threat of electoral failure come the midterms. Almost a year since Biden’s inauguration, the White House appears weak and untrustworthy due to its administration abandoning major policy plans. If Biden continues on this current course of inaction (instead of forcing through his agenda), he risks losing Democratic control of the legislature and executive.

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