DENVER — After weeks of a political stalemate, President Joe Biden unveiled a new, scaled-back version of his spending plan on Thursday.
The framework for the new bill promises to scale back spending from more than $3 trillion to $1.75 trillion, but cuts some of the promises the president had made early on.
Paid family leave and free community college did not make the cut. However, other programs like free universal Pre-K were included.
Colorado already has plans in place for a free Pre-K program that will be available to families in the fall of 2023.
The Biden administration proposal would expand both the number of hours of learning children could receive and the number of kids who are eligible.
“Our programs as they exist today and proposed in Proposition EE are part-day programs, usually 2 to 3 hours a day. This would be a full school day, full schoolyear program,” said Bill Jager, the vice president of early childhood and policy initiatives with the Colorado Children’s Fund.
However, it’s unclear under the new framework when that Pre-K funding would begin and the timing of its implementation.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo says many of the programs featured in the Biden proposal will be a state-federal partnership meant to help ease the burdens on areas like Colorado.
“This will help Colorado significantly either to defray the cost or to expand the program,” Raimondo said. “In cases where states like yours have been ahead of the pack, making these investments is welcome news because it reduces your financial burden.”
The new proposal also promises to help with childcare by limiting its cost to no more than 7% of a family's income. This would apply to people earning up to 250% of the state’s median income.
The plan also calls for an extension of the federal expanded child tax credit by one year for families earning up to $150,000 annually and makes the credit permanently refundable. Colorado is already planning its own state child tax credit in 2022.
The new Biden plan also promises more investments in clean energy, funding for a Civilian Climate Corps and more electric vehicle charging stations among other promises — things Colorado has already started to implement without the federal help.
“The federal government just has a lot bigger budget to deal with,” said Mac Clouse, a finance professor with The University of Denver Daniels College of Business. “It’s really an issue of magnitude. The state does some of these things, but the federal government can come do it at a much larger amount of dollars.”
Jager believes all the work Colorado has already done could help the state more quickly scale-up these programs if the federal plan passes.
“With this federal funding, I am hopeful that we will have the infrastructure in place to put these federal dollars to use,” he said.
Raimondo, meanwhile, says there are other promises in the plan Colorado isn’t offering, like home care for elderly Americans or expansions to Medicare to cover the cost of hearing tests and hearing aids.
“Colorado is really not providing that at the level that your residents need because, frankly, it’s too expensive,” she said.
The Biden plan promises to pay for these big ideas with a 15% minimum tax for large corporations and a 1% surcharge on corporate stock buybacks.
It also promises to add a new surtax onto millionaires and billionaires and close some tax loopholes.
Clouse is still skeptical about how much money this will truly bring in.
“Corporations have a lot of deductions they can do. There are tax loopholes that they can legally use that reduce their taxable income down to zero. When you tax a taxable income at any tax rate you’ll get zero taxes,” Clouse said. “A 15% minimum on zero is still zero.”
Already, the new plan is receiving serious pushback from Republicans who say Biden’s agenda is already contributing to skyrocketing prices and a slowing economy.
"Trillions more in wasteful spending and higher taxes will only further hurt the middle class and recovering small businesses. The Biden administration lied to the American people on every aspect of the failed Build Back Broke agenda, and now American workers and businesses will foot the bill for the latest version of the far-left wish list,” the Republican National Committee said in a statement.
No Republicans are likely to support even the new version of the social spending framework.
The plan has been given to Congress to now figure out the details, debate and ultimately determine whether it’s more politically palatable than the previous version.