When Will We Build Back Better? And What Will We Do?

“Build Back Better”. It’s not a great slogan, but Biden’s BBB bill will be passed eventually. It won’t be as sensible as what Biden originally proposed. A few “conservative” or flaky congressional Democrats insisted on making it worse. But it will make a difference in millions of lives when it finally becomes law.

Democrats in the House say they want to pass it this coming week, which means by Thursday, November 18. Then, however, both the House and Senate take another much needed break until the end of November. Assuming House Democrats do their job next week, Senate Democrats will then have two weeks to do theirs, before it’s break time again.  Unless Senate Democrats approve it by December 10, it won’t get done until 2022 (we really are living in the future). 

Almost all the news about BBB has been about the spending side of the bill, leaving out the popular offsetting taxes the bill would impose on corporations and people with plenty of cash to spare. The other thing the news has mostly ignored is what the bill would do. A relatively objective and nonpartisan group called the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has kindly provided the list below. The CFRB concludes it would have a small effect on the federal deficit in its present form. In the long run, they say it would have a bigger effect, assuming all the temporary parts of the bill are made permanent. But there’s no doubt whatsoever these things are worth doing and we can afford to do them (unlike the last Republican tax cut, for example, which wasn’t worth doing and made good things like BBB less easy to afford).

What’s in the Build Back Better Act?

Policy Cost/Savings (-)
Family Benefits  $585 billion
Provide universal pre-k & establish an affordable child care program (6 years) $390 billion
Establish a paid family and medical leave program $195 billion
Climate & Infrastructure  $555 billion
Invest in clean energy & climate resilience $220 billion
Establish or expand clean energy & electric tax credits $190 billion
Establish or expand clean fuel & vehicle tax credits $60 billion
Establish or expand other climate-related tax benefits $75 billion
Enact infrastructure & related tax breaks $10 billion
Individual Tax Credits & Cuts $210 billion
Extend Child Tax Credit (CTC) increase to $3,000 ($3,600 for kids under 6) for one year $130 billion
Make CTC fully refundable for 2023 & beyond $55 billion
Extend expanded Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for one year  $15 billion
Other individual tax changes $10 billon
Health Care  $335 billion
Strengthen Medicaid home- and community-based services $150 billion
Extend expanded Affordable Care Act (ACA) premium tax credits & make premium tax credits available to those in Medicaid coverage gap through 2025 $125 billion
Establish Medicare hearing benefit $30 billion
Invest in the health care workforce $30 billion
Other Spending & Tax Cuts  $310 billion
Build & support affordable housing $170 billion
Increase higher education & workforce spending $40 billion
Other spending & investments $100 billion
Reduce or Delay TCJA Base Broadening $290 billion
Increase SALT deduction cap to $80,000 through 2025 $285 billion+
Delay amortization of research & experimentation expenses until 2026 $5 billion’
Enact Immigration Reform  ~$100 billion
Subtotal, Build Back Better Act Spending & Tax Breaks  $2.4 trillion
Increase Corporate Taxes -$830 billion 
Impose a 15 percent domestic minimum tax on large corporations -$320 billion
Impose a 15 percent global minimum tax & reform international taxation -$280 billion
Impose a 1 percent surcharge on corporate stock buybacks -$125 billion
Enact other corporate tax reforms -$105 billion
Increase Individual Taxes on High Earners  -$640 billion
Expand the 3.8 percent Net Investment Income Tax -$250 billion
Impose a 5 percent surtax on income above $10 million & an 8 percent surtax on income above $25 million -$230 billion
Extend and expand limits on deductibility of business losses -$160 billion
Other Revenue -$170 billion
Reduce the tax gap by funding IRS & other measures -$125 billion*
Reinstate superfund taxes on oil -$25 billion
Expand nicotine taxes -$10 billion
Reform tax treatment of retirement accounts -$10 billion
Health Care -$250 billion
Repeal Trump Administration drug rebate rule -$150 billion
Reform Part D formula, cap drug price growth, & allow targeted drug price negotiations -$100 billion
Establish $80,000 SALT deduction cap from 2026 through 2030 & $10,000 cap in 2031 -$300 billion+
Subtotal, Build Back Better Act Offsets  -$2.2 trillion
Net Deficit Increase, House Build Back Better Act  ~$200 billion