Last week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin announced that they had negotiated a major bill that would tackle drug prices, inflation, and climate change after months of protracted Congressional stonewalling. The two have come away from negotiations with three big pieces of legislation that are hugely promising — the climate package alone would be the biggest single investment the United States has ever made in combating climate change.
The three components of the “Inflation Reduction Act” lean heavily on several proposals that were part of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Plan. But there’s notably a lot missing in this bill that was once on the negotiating table.
No longer is there funding for a federal overhaul of the child care system, universal pre-kindergarten, Medicare expansion, paid leave, or reinstating the child tax credit. And that’s what Senator Bernie Sanders leaned into when he addressed the Manchin-Schumer deal in his 35-minute-plus speech.
“Now, I have heard from some of my colleagues that the Build Back Better legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and supported by some 48 out of the 50 members of the Senate Democratic caucus and by the President of the United States is dead,” Sanders said, per a press release on his prepared thoughts, which he delivered to the U.S. Senate on Aug. 2.
“Now, I don’t know if that is absolutely true or not. But I do know that if it is true, it would be a disaster for working families all across this country who are desperately trying to survive economically,” he continued.
Sanders then outlined exactly what is missing in the 700-page Inflation Reduction Act that was included in the Build Back Better bill, noting that each provision that’s missing “has overwhelming support from the American people according to to poll after poll after poll.”
“…The United States has the highest rate of poverty of almost any major nation on Earth, but this bill does not extend the $300 a month per child tax credit that you had last year,” he said. “If you are a parent today paying $15,000 a year for childcare, the average cost in America, this bill ignores that crisis completely and does absolutely nothing for you.”
Sanders also pointed out the lack of a plan for the 45 million Americans who hold an average of more than $35,000 in student loan debt per borrower, the lack of provisions to expand Medicare to include hearing aids, dental visits, or eyeglasses, and the lack of any legislation to address the fact that “18 million households are spending…50% of their incomes for housing.”
“We have legislation which unlike the original Build Back Better plan ignores the needs of working families in childcare, Pre-K, the expansion of Medicare, affordable housing, home healthcare, higher education, and many other desperate needs,” Sanders said.
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