The Build Back Better Bust: What happens now?

President Joe Biden speaks at the pentagon (Photo: Lisa Ferdinando on Flickr)

by Aria Balador, staff writer

Around a month ago, I wrote an online article regarding the state of affairs for the Biden administration. While I expressed heavy disappointment for the lack of action and the blocking of legislation within Congress, I also reserved some level of hope that the Build Back Better plan, Biden’s magnum opus project which at the time had passed the House of Representatives and promised to offer some relief to the poor infrastructure, labor conditions and generally rocky recovery period after 2020 would pass. How wrong I was. The bill couldn’t advance due to the actions of Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Krysten Sinema of Arizona, who in what many critics described as an effort to get kickbacks from corporations, decided to strike down an already heavily weakened version of the act. A follow-up effort to remove the filibuster, a key factor preventing, among other things, voting rights legislation being passed, was also thrown in the metaphorical trash bin after these two politicians voted against the proposal. 

At this point, the Biden administration is stuck. Any meaningful legislation they attempt to pass is struck down by the two aforementioned senators, who join with the Republicans to prevent such actions. Any plans to combat the pandemic are interrupted by unvaccinated Americans, who are almost 50 percent of the population in some more conservative states, and whose rejection of scientific evidence in support of vaccination remains unfaltering despite new studies being almost constantly released. Inflation is increasing globally, stunting pandemic recovery, and this global inflation has caused a lot of issues on the homefront for Biden. These barricades leave the Biden administration limited in what it can do to truly address crucially important issues.

The struggle isn’t all due to outside circumstances, however. The Biden administration, and Biden himself, are also heavily to blame due to their lack of action regarding these events, and their unwillingness to fully pressure the two senators to submit to the public’s will. Biden himself has failed to take strong enough action on numerous domestic and foreign policy issues, and he and Vice President Kamala Harris have seen their approval ratings fizzle this past year. Peaceful foreign policy goals are demolished by America’s systematic pursuit of global hegemony, a pursuit that transcends all political lines, and will likely continue for decades to come. As reported by the Associated Press last December, Biden signed off on a $768.2 billion dollar budget for the military, which funds many buttresses of American power all over the world, including further Israeli settlements into Palestinian territory, Saudi monarchs, and the countless military bases we have abroad.  Additionally, military spending completely dwarfs any desperately needed infrastructure or education spending. While a capable American military is required, there shouldn’t be this much excess spending in this area; just last year Biden approved a budget that included $25 billion additional dollars headed to the Pentagon that they hadn’t even requested. Imagine the boosts that could have been done to infrastructure or education with that money alone.

As for American citizens, life hasn’t been easy. There’s been a shortage of labor and a massive increase in resignations, known as the Great Resignation, taking place, with 4.6 million people resigning just in November, and inflation has been at its worst since 1982 according to CNBC. COVID continues to ravage the country with its new variants, and an uptick in strikes has occurred as a result of the labor conditions presented to workers. 

If the unpopularity of the Democrats continues, the party could risk losing seats in the Senate and House of Representatives in this year’s midterm elections, which would limit their plans ever further. Such an occurrence is very common in years past, which usually causes even more limitations to policy. Furthermore, if the 2024 elections fall to the Republican party like they did in 2016, which included Hillary Clinton losing to Donald Trump, much of what the Democrats have fought for could be undone. 

In the last article, I ended on a hopeful note, saying that Biden may have a chance if his Build Back Better plan passes. In contrast, this time I am giving a word of warning. If the Biden administration and Congress don’t get their act together, the future will be very dim for Democrats and progressive causes. We need action now!

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