What is in the pro-worker budget that Manchin and Sinema want to kill? – The news of the Liberation

The confrontation in Congress over the fate of social programs that would provide much-needed relief to the working class has entered a critical phase. The $ 3.5 trillion social spending budget has come under fierce attack from Republicans and right-wing Democrats. Popular movements will have to exert strong pressure in order to force the passage of these urgent reforms.

The budget is set for adoption using a process called budget reconciliation. Budget reconciliation is used by Democrats to bypass filibuster, an internal Senate rule that requires 60 votes for bills to pass. Using budget reconciliation, Democrats only need 51 votes to pass the budget in the Senate. With Vice President Kamala Harris as the tiebreaker in the event of a 50-50 vote, that means essential social programs under consideration could be passed without a single Republican vote.

The real roadblock is therefore the members of the Democratic Party itself. Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema emerged as the main figures trying to slow down and ultimately stop the passage of the budget.

There are methods available to Democratic leaders that could discipline Manchin and Sinema, including primary challenges, a promise of zero campaign money from the Democratic National Committee, ‘no’ votes on one of their sponsored laws. and expulsion from committee missions. An independent popular movement is needed to exert the pressure that the Democratic Party leadership is too weak to generate.

In fact, not only did the Democratic Party elite fail to align their own membership, they also completely failed to adequately communicate to the public the importance of adopting this social program budget. The measures it contains are very popular and address the fundamental concerns of the working class.

Measures in favor of the working class

In the initial framework released by the Senate last month that officially kicked off the budgeting process, education initiatives take center stage. $ 726 billion should be allocated to the Committee on Health, Education, Work and Pensions to be used to enact a free universal preschool, a free community college, increased funding for historically black colleges and universities, and a expansion of Pell grants. $ 35 billion is earmarked for developing school child nutrition programs to ensure millions more children receive free meals.

Hundreds of billions of dollars would be allocated to environmental initiatives, including programs to reduce forest fires, fight drought and develop green energy sources. Financing green energy from the budget would aim to reduce carbon emissions by 50% and modernize infrastructure to ensure that 80% of the electricity grid is running from “zero emission” sources by 2030.

Families in poverty will receive significant assistance. $ 332 billion is expected to be invested in housing programs, including improving public housing and increasing subsidies for low and very low income families to buy homes. A major boon for poor families, a temporary tax credit will be made permanent, which would allow households to receive a check for $ 300 per month per child under six and $ 250 per month for children over the age of six. six years.

Health is another key priority of the planned budget. All workers will benefit from guaranteed sick leave. Workers would finally be guaranteed the right to family leave, something that exists in almost all developed countries but shamefully not in the United States. Negotiations are underway to decide whether Medicare coverage should be extended to include free insurance for vision, hearing, and dental care or if instead Medicaid should be extended to include states whose governments have chosen. not to participate in the expansion of Medicaid in the Affordable Care Act. Instead of either / or consideration, both should be fully funded and expanded.

The greed of the big pharmaceutical companies against Medicare

One of the predictable responses from Republicans, so-called “moderate” Democrats, and corporate-owned media is, “How is the government going to pay for this?” It is important to note that while this objection is always raised against programs that benefit the working class, the same fiscal concerns are never raised against the war budget which stands at around $ 1 trillion per year. – money that does not go to the poor but to the fabulously rich. companies in the arms industry.

But nonetheless, the social program budget answers this question with tax increases on the rich and on businesses. Another way to generate income would be to decrease Medicare spending by lowering the cost of prescription drug prices. In 2020, the prices of prescription drugs increased twice as fast as the rate of inflation. Medicare recipients currently spend an average of $ 650 of their own money per year on prescription drugs. All of this will line the pockets of the capitalists in the pharmaceutical industry.

To remedy this situation, the budget would create rules directing Medicare to negotiate drug prices with drug companies. Under this plan, drug prices would be capped at 120% of what other industrialized countries pay for the same drugs. Non-compliant businesses would be hit by a steep tax increase. This plan would not only improve the quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries, but would also free up $ 450 billion that would instead be spent on expanding Medicare and / or Medicaid.

Lobbyists for the pharmaceutical industry are working to make sure their personal cash cow is not butchered. The amount of money the pharmaceutical industry has spent on lobbying in 2021 so far stands at $ 171 million, after an all-time high of $ 309 million in 2020. This system of corruption legalized, where big companies buy the loyalty of politicians, pays dividends. Democratic Representative Scott Peters, who received the most money from big drug companies for the 2022 election cycle, is leading the charge against Medicare drug price cuts.

Peters, Manchin, Sinema and their allies have dramatically proven to be sworn enemies of the working class. They are ready to do anything to cruelly deny the poor a life of dignity and protect the vast fortunes of the rich at all costs. But like any enemy of the workers, they can be defeated in the struggle.

About John Tuttle

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