Well, the Build Back Better plan has passed. Yes, it’s a historical piece of legislation, but it could have been so much more so.
Because of a handful of conservative Democrats and 100% of the Republicans in Congress, 62 million Medicare recipients will not be receiving help with their dental and vision needs this coming year.
Instead, 62 million kupuna, our parents and grandparents living in what is supposed to be their golden years, are being denied this little bit of extra help because 2 Democrats in the Senate and another 6 to 9 in the House, together with their Republican allies would rather protect the Elon Musk billionaires of the world.
This same unholy alliance between conservative “D’s” and Republicans have also managed to deny 4 million high school graduates the opportunity to attend a community college or trade school regardless of their ability to pay.
If the Democrats had stuck together, there were sufficient votes to get the job done and pass a truly monumental piece of legislation, but unfortunately, that was not to be the case (pun intended).
Yes, the cold hard truth is that passage of the Build Back Better bill has been repeatedly blocked, and provisions such as those cited above, repeatedly weakened by the actions of a small group of House and Senate conservative Democrats including Hawaii’ Congressman Ed Case (CD1).
Recently, under the guise of being “fiscally conservative”, they were demanding proof that the proposal was “paid for” and would not increase the federal debt. Though President Biden and others had assured them that this will ultimately be the case, they continued to stall passage awaiting the “final reports” from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
It’s important to note that Case and the others did not make this same demand when approving the recently passed massive infrastructure bill, nor did they insist on this when approving military spending totaling $8 trillion over the same period.
Not surprisingly, Congressman Kaialiʻi Kahele (CD2) who represents the neighbor-islands and rural Oahu, and both Senator Schatz and Senator Hirono are all enthusiastic supporters of the measure and have been fighting hard to keep it strong.
This has been a critical week. The House of Representatives has finally passed this $1.75 trillion dollar measure, that while significantly weakened by this small conservative faction of Congressional Democrats – is still a potentially historic accomplishment.
What exactly is in it?
* Universal preschool for all 3- and 4-year olds.
* Capping childcare costs at 7% of income for parents earning up to 250% of a state’s median income.
* 4 weeks of federal paid parental, sick, or caregiver leave.
* A one-year extension of the expanded Child Tax Credits which has cut child poverty in America by 25%.
* New hearing benefits for Medicare beneficiaries, including coverage for a new hearing aid every 5 years.
* A $35 per-month limit on the cost of insulin under Medicare, and capping out-of-pocket prescription drug costs at $2,000 per year.
* Raising the state/local tax deduction limit from $10,000 to $80,000.
* $500 billion to combat climate change – The largest-ever federal investment in clean energy.
* $150 billion for affordable housing.
The House of Representatives voted on the bill today, with Representative Kaialiʻi (Kai) Kahele (CD2) voting in support, and ultimately Representative Ed Case (CD1) casting his vote in support as well. The measure now passes over to the Senate where further changes will likely be made – and the sausage-making will continue.
AND YES, I AM 100% SUPPORTING SERGIO ALCUBILLA IN HIS CAMPAIGN FOR CONGRESS!