There is an imaginary furor over the "Build Back Better" bill which, it is said, will carry a price tag of $3.5 Trillion. By comparison the national debt is now thought to be in the vicinity of $28 Trillion.
First, I would like to emphasize that this is not a one time expenditure. This is the estimated cost of the programs proposed over a ten year period. We do several things that cost $350 Billion per year such as the military budget.
But here is the real point. THE COST DOES NOT MATTER! What matters is whether or not we will deal with the issues the bill is meant to address. If we do not deal with those issues the cost will not matter because we won't be here. At least not in the current edition of the United States of America.
Climate Change is no longer an ephemeral prediction. It is a fact and it is created by human consumption. The major culprit is Carbon Dioxide which is a by product of using fossil fuels. Methane is another more potent gas that is released from wells that produce petroleum products but another more threatening source is the release of methane from previously frozen permafrost. Temperatures in the Arctic are rising faster than almost anyplace else.
Increasing inequality of economic well being is creating more dissatisfaction and crime and is leading to a corrosive political environment. When the economy is performing well for all classes then peace reigns. Economic inequality is caused by laws that favor corporations and those wealthy enough to use arcane tax shelters to lower their taxable income. Inheritance allows the transfer of wealth across generations. Wealth that is locked up and denied to the majority of people who live paycheck to paycheck. Increasing use of robotics is eliminating low wage, low skill jobs and leaving a large portion of our population without access to the shared wealth of our prosperous nation. Even our politicians see this but are unable to address it due to their reliance on those monied interests to fund campaigns.
Racial discrimination and nativism have resulted from the self-serving desires of elected officials who are more than willing to stoke the flames if it means more votes. The political atmosphere has allowed strident accusations that have no basis in fact and 10 second sound bytes create negativism that is almost impossible to counter.
These are just a few of the issues facing the United States of America and, indeed, much of the rest of the world. Climate Change is creating more weather related disasters that require more emergency funding to address. How long before we are no longer able to fund those efforts due to their cost? Already something like 40% of Americans pay no income tax although there is little way to escape payroll taxes. That is not sustainable and it creates the impression that not all of us share in the welfare of the nation. Droughts in the West and Mid-West are affecting food production in the breadbasket of America. Floods and storms are wreaking havoc on our cities and even mountainous areas of the Appalachians.
Economic security and racial strife are inextricably linked. It is within our power to correct these things but the wealthy political donors, hedge funds and the need for increasing shareholder values prevent that from happening.
These are only a few of the enormous life changing threats that will either destroy the ideals that created our nation or create a substitute nation that will bear little resemblance to the one we grew up in. They are not being addressed. Instead we flail about accusing one or the other of cultural issues that have no existential threat to our country.
These are the things that President Biden is attempting to address in the Build Back Better bill and the For the People bill. The latter seeks to restore the power of the people to exercise their obligation to vote by making greater the opportunities to vote. This past Presidential election was the most examined election ever and the electoral infractions are so minuscule so as to be irrelevant despite what the former President alleges. It is opposed by Republicans who realize that to win office they have to restrict voting or change their message and the latter is not going to happen. It seems like this is a no-brainer but it is happening nevertheless.
For The People is designed to insure voter access to the polls, establish campaign finance laws and eliminate gerrymandering but was filibustered in the Senate by Republicans and has yet to become law. This denies the people the opportunity to select the kind of government they want while making it easier to vote. Republicans erroneously claim it would promote voter fraud although this past election was the most secure ever.
Build Back Better is designed to move the United States from fossil fuels to renewable forms of energy, support families that have been ignored for 40 years and restructure the tax burden so that the wealthy pay their fair share in taxes instead of using legal loopholes to avoid them.
The cost of these is significant but the cost of not doing them is enormous. We have become a society that ignores the least of us and attempts to create a labor force that is kept employed in a system that does not pay a living wage. This leaves the taxpayer to make up the difference in support programs. But Climate Change is the one that has the power to be an existential threat. If we do not deal with it we can say goodbye to the world that we know.