New York

What Is the Build Back Better Act – and What Will New Yorkers Get Out Of It?

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Political infighting among Democrats is stalling the passage of a bipartisan infrastructure bill that would provide funding for internet access, Amtrak and much more. Progressives want to see more social programs added to the Build Back Better Plan first. NBCLX Political Editor Noah Pransky explains what’s going on.

New Yorkers have been hearing about President Joe Biden and the Democrats' Build Back Better plan all over the news, but what is actually included in the bill and what the Empire State stands to gain might not be as clear.

Vice President Kamala Harris visited New Jersey last week with the intention of promoting the Build Back Better Act and the infrastructure bill. The Act, along with the infrastructure bill, is the center piece of Biden's agenda and the values and policies that he ran his entire campaign on.

Through the infrastructure bill, the Democrats hope to provide updates and repairs to roads, bridges and waterways across the country. Through the Build Back Better Act, Democrats are making due on the campaign promises they have made regarding climate change, child care, affordable housing and immigration reform amongst other key issues, financing it by increasing taxes on businesses and the rich.

Still, there has been much debate even amongst Democrats on the size of the bill and what should actually be included. Centrist Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are pushing Democrats to lower the cost of the package from the proposed $3.5 trillion to $2 trillion. And while a bill passed by the House on Tuesday, it is only temporary, lawmakers will have to revisit the issue in December.

So, what do New Yorkers need to know about the bill and what do they possibly stand to gain if it passes?

If childcare expenses are a top concern for your family, lowering the cost is one of the key things the bill is attempting to do. According to the Economic Policy Institute, in New York the average annual cost of infant care is $15,394, or $1,283 per month. That means that childcare amounts for 22.1% of a median family's income in the state. With the Build Back Better Act, Democrats are capping the expense at no more than 7% of a family's earnings.

Another priority of the plan is extending the child tax credits put in place during the pandemic that gives families up to $300 a month. Additionally, paid family leave of up to 12 weeks is included.

In order to support seniors, funding would shift away from senior homes to encouraging home healthcare. There would also be an expansion of vision, hearing aid and dental benefits for those seniors on Medicare.

Making education more affordable is also a top priority of the plan. All Americans would be eligible for two years of free preschool and two years of free community college. This is all to give stronger academic beginnings to low-income children and encourage more people to seek higher education that will likely lead to higher paying jobs.

On climate change, the bill would impose new emission restrictions with a federal clean energy requirement, boost electrical vehicles by giving companies tax breaks.

All in all, Democrats are aiming to expand the social safety and finance it by increasing taxes on corporations and the rich. As Democrats and Republicans in the Senate continue to negotiate the details of plan, New Yorkers will have to wait to see what benefits will remain in the final version of the bill.

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