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Missing From the Federal Budget: Biden’s Signature Policy Agenda


During the Obama administration’s first year in office, as it was developing the health care proposal that would become the Affordable Care Act, it also skipped including key policy details from its budget tables. Similarly, the Trump administration’s first budget offered scant specifics about its ambitions for overhauling the tax code, a priority that came to fruition later that year.

But both of those omissions occurred in the administrations’ early months, before White House policy officials or congressional negotiators had time to develop the finer points. Mr. Biden’s domestic policy agenda, in contrast, has been the subject of extensive white papers, policy speeches and legislative text — including a bill that passed the House in November.

The tax overhaul and Obamacare were major projects for those administrations, but they did not represent the range of their domestic ambitions in quite the way that Build Back Better does for the Biden White House.

The Biden administration’s plan, drawn up as a single piece of legislation that could pass through a special process without requiring Republican votes, included a range of tax, social welfare and climate policy ideas, rolling in much of Mr. Biden’s presidential campaign agenda. Depending on the details, the proposal is likely to increase both spending and revenues by $1 trillion or more over a decade.

And while the Trump budget office declined to specify tax details in 2017, it did commit to including substantial cuts to Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act as part of its plan to “repeal and replace” the health law.

Ironically, the Biden administration’s budget does include proposals, like an increase to the corporate tax rate, that lawmakers have already trimmed from the legislation in their recent negotiations.

Last year’s budget featured more of Mr. Biden’s domestic policy plan, detailing programs to combat climate change and expand child care, for example, that did become a part of the Build Back Better proposal.



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