As the Democrats cut the spending bill, some Americans fear they will be left behind

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WASHINGTON – Congressional Democrats are throttling ambitions for President Biden’s economic agenda, and home care assistant Jennifer Mount worries she won’t get the raise she needs, of more than $ 3,000 to pay medical bills for blindness in one eye.

Edison Suasnavas, who came to the United States from Ecuador as a child, is concerned about government efforts to create a route to citizenship that he hoped could continue to perform molecular testing for cancer patients in Utah without fears of deportation to have to.

And Amy Stelly wonders – thanks to a review of Mr Biden’s plans to invest in neighborhoods damaged by previous infrastructure projects like highways that have damaged colored communities – if she will continue to breathe the fumes of a freeway she says that she is constantly in her New Orleans home shuddered. It has a message for the President and Democrats who are in the process of wrapping his sprawling agenda into a shrinking legislative package.

“You come up and live next to it,” said Ms. Stelly. “You live this quality of life. We suffer while you are debating. “

Mr. Biden began his presidency with an expensive and far-reaching agenda to reorganize the US economy. But under pressure from negotiations and Senate rules, he has put a number of his most ambitious proposals on hold, some of them indefinitely.

He has been thwarted in his efforts to raise the federal minimum wage and provide a route to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. He has scaled back investments in lead pipe removal and other efforts that would help colored communities. Now, while trying to win moderate votes in his party, the president is reducing the original $ 3.5 trillion set of tax cuts and spending programs to a package of $ 2 trillion or less.

That is still a huge package of spending that Mr Biden argues could change the landscape of the economy. But many Americans, who trust his promises to reshape their jobs and lives, must hope that the programs they are building on will survive the cut; otherwise, they will have to wait years or maybe decades for another opportunity in Washington.

“The problem now is that this could be the last train to leave the station for a long time,” said Jason Furman, an economist at Harvard Kennedy School and a top economic adviser to President Barack Obama. “It could be five, 10, 20 years before there is another chance of many of these problems.”

Mr. Furman and other former Obama administration officials saw firsthand how quickly a presidential agenda can shrink and how decisions by president and Congress can neglect campaign priorities for years. In the early years of his presidency, Obama gave a stimulus package and the creation of the Affordable Care Act priority over comprehensive immigration and climate legislation.

Suggestion and health care passed. The other two don’t.

A similar fate could now happen to Mr Biden’s plans for home care workers, paid vacation, childcare allowances, free pre-kindergarten and community college, investments in racial justice, and again immigration and climate change.

If Mr Biden is able to push through a compromise bill with large investments in emissions reduction, “he has an engine to work with” to fight climate change, said John Podesta, a former top adviser to Mr Obama and President Bill Clinton . “If he doesn’t get it, then I think, you know, we’re really in the soup and we’re facing a major crisis.”

Republicans have criticized the spending and tax hikes that would help fund them, claiming the Democratic package would hurt the economy. Democrats “simply have an insatiable appetite to raise taxes and spend more money,” said Rep. Steve Scalise, Republican from Louisiana, on Fox News Sunday this week. “It would kill jobs.”

The threat of republican filibusters blocked Mr Biden’s plans for gun and voting rights legislation.

However, the president’s biggest problem right now is his own party. He is negotiating with progressives and moderates over the size of the larger tax and spending package. Centrists like Senators Joe Manchin III from West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona have pushed for the price to go below $ 2 trillion. Mr Manchin said he wanted to limit the availability of some programs to low and middle earners. Progressive groups argue that their preferred plans are not completely removed from the bill.

The House of Representatives has proposed $ 190 billion to invest in home nursing, less than half of what Mr Biden initially asked for. If the price continued to fall, Democrats would almost certainly have to choose between two concurrent goals: expanding access to older Americans who need janitors, or increasing the wages of those workers, a group that is disproportionately made up of women of color.

Another proposal included in Mr Biden’s original infrastructure bill was a $ 20 billion investment to improve infrastructure that fragmented color communities, though funding was cut to $ 1 billion through a compromise with Republican senators became.

Ms. Stelly thought the funding, as well as the president’s sweeping proposals to combat climate change – which could also be curtailed to appease center democrats – would eventually lead elected officials to grapple with the highway emissions that are filling their lungs and have darkened the windows of their house.

Ms. Stelly, an urban designer, has since limited her expectations. She said she hoped the funding would be enough to issue at least one more study on the highway that claimed dozens of black-owned businesses and the once thriving Tremé neighborhood.

Some Democrats are eager to put as much as possible into the bill because they fear losing the House, the Senate, or both in next year’s midterm elections. Mr Podesta has urged lawmakers to see the package as an opportunity to avoid these losses by providing a number of popular programs for Democratic incumbents and also by giving the President political victories that could define his legacy.

Mr Biden has been promoting some of his policies to reverse racial gaps in the economy and lift families struggling with the coronavirus pandemic out of poverty.

Ms. Mount, who immigrated to the United States from Trinidad and Tobago, said she appreciates her job helping elderly Americans and the disabled eat and bathe and help them in their homes. But their wages for their long hours – sometimes around 50 hours a week for $ 400 – have made it virtually impossible to make payments for basic necessities.

She had hoped that Mr. Biden’s plan to raise the minimum wage or salaries for home nurses would mean she would no longer have to choose between her utility bills and her medical bills. She said the treatment improved her blindness, but without a raise in her area, she is more confident that she will work for the rest of her life.

“I have to decide: do I go to the grocery store or do I pay my mortgage? Do I pay my water bill or my electricity bill? ”Said Ms. Mount, who lives in Philadelphia. “This makes retirement look SMALL, all in capital letters. What do I have for retirement? “

When Mr. Biden initially proposed two years of free community college, Ms. Mount, 64, was encouraged about future opportunities for her six grandchildren in the United States. However, she fears that the effort could also be reduced.

“That’s politics from above,” she said. “Sometimes they always seem distant.”

Some measures that the Democrats have long promised voters are at odds with Senate rules, which dictate what guidelines the government should include in bills that use a special procedure to bypass the filibuster, including raising the minimum wage and a plan to offer citizenship to immigrants to USA as children.

When the Senate MP rejected the strategy, it led Mr. Suasnavas, who has lived in the United States since he was 13, to consider the possibility of deportation; He would have to give up his job as a medical technician, his 6-year-old daughter and his 2-year-old son.

“We hoped that Washington politicians – Democrats and Republicans – would not only see the economic impact we could bring to the country, but we were still people with families,” said Suasnavas, 35. “Our hearts became broken so often that it feels like another wound in your skin. “


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