The American president unveils the broad outlines of his American Families Plan. He foresees devoting $1.8 trillion to education, child care and the extension of assistance to the unemployed. But he will have to convince his own camp as well as the opposition.
To celebrate 100 days in the White House — this Friday, officially — Joe Biden has presented a new investment plan. It is, in fact, the second part of an infrastructure plan, only more socially oriented. The American Families Plan promises $1.8 trillion for assistance to the most fragile populations: $1 trillion for new investments and $800 billion in tax credits. These funds are in addition to the $2.3 trillion provided for in the infrastructure plan. A total of more than $4 trillion, which would constitute the most important public initiative since World War II, “an ambitious, once in a generation investment,“ according to the White House.
Biden was set to provide the details of the plan during his first address to Congress this Wednesday evening, but he has already unveiled its broad outlines. The proposal includes an important investment in education. Access to community colleges and public universities of good standing would become free to all — a measure that would cost $109 billion. Assistance would go to students attending universities that have historically served minorities. Those universities would also receive subsidies to compensate for the currently insufficient number of professors, a need estimated at more than 100,000 new instructors nationwide.
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Households that are struggling will also be able to receive aid for the care of young children. (Some $225 billion is anticipated.) Supplementary paid leave would also be provided upon the birth of a child or for medical reasons ($225 billion, as well). The nutrition program, which enables children to receive free meals at school, would be expanded.
Lastly, targeted assistance, adopted at the time of the COVID-19 crisis, would become permanent. This would apply to the tax credit granted to those who have lost their jobs. A tax credit to parents would also be increased to $3,600 per child for children under six years of age, and $3,000 for those over six years.
These measures would be financed by new tax revenues. Biden wants, first of all, to provide greater resources to the administration to fight tax evasion. The tax rate for the richest Americans would return to 39.6%, as opposed to the current 37%, and capital gains would be taxed at the same level for those earning more than $1 million per year. Finally, he wants to put an end to a tax deduction exploited by members of investment funds.
Biden will nevertheless have to be convincing in order to get his own camp and the opposing party to accept these measures. The Republicans have already presented a counterproposal to Biden’s infrastructure plan, at one-quarter the cost. While they claim to be open to restoring roads and bridges, they are much more skeptical when it comes to social assistance.
The plan is also being criticized by a segment of the left, which is waiting to pass measures that would reduce the cost of medications and extend health care coverage. “Everyone in America should have guaranteed access to health care,” stated Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, who also chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus.