Recently, most of us have been consumed with conversations surrounding the “Build Back Better” budget plan that President Joe Biden campaigned on. His is a much-needed plan that will cut taxes and lower costs for working families, create much-needed jobs and address income inequality. His proposal centers on restructured tax codes that oblige the wealthy to pay their fair share.
Although the potential outcomes of President Biden’s plan are ambitious, it seemed so simple that even the 1% would accept a serious effort to lower the costs of housing, health care, higher education, prescription drugs and child care. Even if they had to learn to live on a few dollars less, who could complain about contributing to the “general welfare” in proportion to the benefits this country affords them? Obviously, the 1% could! For them, earning more money than can be spent in a lifetime is not enough. They resist the sacrifice of a small portion that would benefit us all.
Undoubtedly, the need for reform exists. The singular or combined impact of those limiting circumstances severely affects the potential for improved quality of life and/or upward social mobility. Too often, the cost of child care is equal to or greater than the earning potential of an indigent parent leaving the choice as “Do I work to pay child care, or do I care for my child?” President Biden’s plan offers that no middle-class family would pay more than 7% of their income for quality child care up to age 5. Working families most in need of child care would pay nothing. Universal preschool would increase the potential for social success.
Unlike the past, a high school diploma no longer guarantees a middle-class lifestyle. Without a near-miracle, there is no “good” job to be found without post-high school studies. Under the Biden Plan, students would universally qualify for tuition for two years of community college studies. Additionally, historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), tribal colleges and universities, and other minority-serving institutions have historically operated on shoestring budgets. The president’s plan includes strategies to strengthen completion and retention rates at these institutions which serve low-income students. Appearances suggest that some of the wealthier members of Congress need assistance with their “higher education” since they don’t seem to understand the relationship between education and the achievement of personal success. They most certainly are NOT using their education wisely!
Congresswoman Cori Bush recently slept outside the U.S. Capitol to draw attention to the crisis of homelessness and increasing housing costs. Regrettably, we are forced to stand witness to increasing numbers of people sleeping on the streets — not because they choose to — because increasing costs reduce the availability of affordable housing. Over 10 million renters are paying over one-half of their earnings for rent. Even then, many of the buildings in which they live and for which they pay so much are substandard, needing rehabilitation or rebuilding!
Under “Build Back Better,” nearly 40 million households would realize assistance for ending child poverty. This program includes workforce training, the development of clean energy and other jobs, tax cuts for childless workers and investments in teachers and schools. Most importantly, it includes expanded health care benefits.
While most Democrats seem to understand, most Republicans only understand when benefits work for “them that’s got” already. There is no end to their desire to help large corporations and the wealthy, or sink billions of dollars into endless, destructive wars. They demonstrate their “Christian compassion” by allowing almost anything else to take priority over assisting the less fortunate of God’s children!
Williams is president of the National Congress of Black Women and the Dick Gregory Society.