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CommentaryL Martin Schram: Biden’s big deal – and surprising special interest winners
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COMMENTARY

CommentaryL Martin Schram: Biden’s big deal – and surprising special interest winners

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First Teddy Roosevelt gave us his “Square Deal.” Then FDR gave us his “New Deal.” And Harry Truman followed with his “Fair Deal.”

By the time LBJ came along, all the ideal “deal” labels had been used. So they settled for the “Great Society.”

Now this. We have searched all week for an unused “deal” label that would best befit the massive, bold yet innovative program of domestic resurrection President Joe Biden unveiled to a joint session of Congress Wednesday night to mark his first 100 days on the job.

President Biden is turning his attention to a family and childcare plan one day after unveiling a $1.8 trillion proposal. "We can't be so busy competing with each other that we forget the competition is with the rest of the world to win the 21st century," he said. "To win that competition for the future, we also need to make a once-in-a-generation investment in our families and our children." The president, first lady and vice president are kicking off what they're calling the "Getting America Back on Track" tour. They'll highlight the progress made in combating COVID-19 during the administration's first 100 days. The second gentleman and cabinet officials will also join them.President Biden says his American Families Plan would be paid for over 15 years if the American Jobs Plan is also passed. Here's what's included in the former: Two years of free preschool for three and four-year olds and two years of free community college. It would make child care more affordable by determining how much families need to contribute based on their income. Childcare would be fully covered for low-income Americans. The plan expands the summer EBT and school meal programs. It also creates a national paid family and medical leave plan. The plan expands health care tax credits, extends the child tax credit increase through 2025 and increases the top tax rate from 37 to 39.6 percent. 

And we found one. Actually, it was previewed, just once, by a former vice president. You may recall it too, since we all heard it together. Recall a yawning morning of March 23, 2010. A full-pomp White House signing ceremony for President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act was inadvertently enlivened by an open-mic moment when Obama’s irrepressible vice president, after dutifully introducing his boss, couldn’t resist adding his own analytical insight. So he stage-whispered into his leader’s left ear – and, unfortunately, into a live mic that was the ear of the entire world:

“This is a big f’ing deal!”

Who knew, back then, that 11 years later, we would resurrect that veep’s cringe-worthy words of praise to repurpose them as the one “deal” label that best describes, with inarguable clarity, another president’s $4 trillion package of cradle-to-grave domestic aid? And who knew, back then, that the 2021 president who could repurpose that veep’s gaffe to establish his place in history would be the old veep himself, President Joe Biden?

But, lo, it came to pass. Today we will take a realistic look at what America really needs to know about Biden’s mega-plan that will someday merit a place in history beside FDR’s New Deal and all the rest, bearing its own proud historic label: Biden’s Big F’ing Deal! (Genteel readers and poli-sci profs may prefer to shorthand it as: JB’s BFD.)

To best grasp what Biden’s BFD really could achieve for those who need and deserve it most, we will look at it today through the mind’s eyes of those who have felt ignored and disrespected by governments, the establishment and the media elites: Donald Trump’s proud base of middle class Americans.

President Biden is turning his attention to a family and childcare plan one day after unveiling a $1.8 trillion proposal. "We can't be so busy competing with each other that we forget the competition is with the rest of the world to win the 21st century," he said. "To win that competition for the future, we also need to make a once-in-a-generation investment in our families and our children." The president, first lady and vice president are kicking off what they're calling the "Getting America Back on Track" tour. They'll highlight the progress made in combating COVID-19 during the administration's first 100 days. The second gentleman and cabinet officials will also join them.President Biden says his American Families Plan would be paid for over 15 years if the American Jobs Plan is also passed. Here's what's included in the former: Two years of free preschool for three and four-year olds and two years of free community college. It would make child care more affordable by determining how much families need to contribute based on their income. Childcare would be fully covered for low-income Americans. The plan expands the summer EBT and school meal programs. It also creates a national paid family and medical leave plan. The plan expands health care tax credits, extends the child tax credit increase through 2025 and increases the top tax rate from 37 to 39.6 percent. 

Some of the older Trumpers once trusted the Reagan Revolution, only to discover that trickle-down economics left them feeling trickled-on, as billionaires, mere millionaires, and hugely profitable corporations paid too-little or no taxes. The pre-Trumpers had no special interest lobbyists pleading their cases. Then Donald Trump came along, pleading their case by telling them lies that they wanted to hear. But their lives didn’t get better. And when the pandemic closed down America, their leader looked lost. Enter Biden.

On Wednesday night, as Biden laid out his entire Big F’ing Deal, one thing seemed clear: This was a package that seemed tailored to help America’s middle class families, including those Trump voters.

Based on the words and details, America’s hard-working family heads, including Trump-voting families, surely saw they were no longer being short-changed. A president was fighting to help them. Biden’s BFD will provide affordable child care that working parents can finally trust; two years of pre-kindergarten education to assure that all kids can get a good start on education; free community college for two years. And Biden’s BFD will finally give Medicare real power to negotiate lower prices on prescription meds (where Americans vastly over-pay, compared to all other developed nations). Families will finally get the help we all need, including home care, for elderly parents.

All the above (and a lot more!) will be paid for, by Biden’s BFD plan to raise taxes on all those making more than $400,000 annually – but not raise taxes for anyone making less. Biden wants to end shelters that allow rich folks and huge-profit corporations to pay virtually no taxes.

Also, Biden is not fighting for climate change with pie-in-the-sky – he’s emphasizing just one thing: “Jobs, jobs, jobs.” As in this: “There is simply no reason why the blades for wind turbines can’t be built in Pittsburgh instead of Beijing.” And Biden calls his huge infrastructure program “American Jobs Plan … a blue collar blueprint to build America.” And 90% of the jobs it creates require no college degree.

So we’ll close with a homework assignment for our friends who are Trump supporters. Google a transcript of Biden’s speech to Congress. Then hit search and replace – substitute “Trump” for “Biden” at the very top of it. Then print it out, sit back, and enjoy.

Biden has gifted Trump’s once-loyal voting base with a package filled with domestic assistance programs they need and deserved. He has become their special interest lobbyist and their president. That’s why his program is indeed a BFD for the USA.

Martin Schram, an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service, is a veteran Washington journalist, author and TV documentary executive. Readers may send him email at martin.schram@gmail.com.

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