President Joe Biden is proposing a six trillion dollar (£4.23 trillion) budget for next year piled high with new safety net programmes for the poor and middle class.
But his generosity depends on taxing corporations and the wealthy to keep the nation’s spiking debt from spiralling totally out of control.
Mr Biden inherited record pandemic-stoked spending and won a major victory on Covid-19 relief earlier this year. Friday’s rollout adds his recently announced infrastructure and social spending initiatives and fleshes out his earlier plans to sharply increase spending for annual Cabinet budgets.
This year’s projected deficit would set a new record of 3.7 trillion dollars (£2.3 trillion) that would drop to 1.8 trillion dollars (£1.27 trillion) next year — still almost double pre-pandemic levels.
The national debt will soon breach 30 trillion dollars (£21.1 trillion) after more than five trillion dollars (£3.5 trillion) in already approved Covid-19 relief. As a result, the government must borrow roughly 50 cents of every dollar it spends this year and next.
With the deficit largely unchecked, Mr Biden would use proposed tax hikes on businesses and high-earning people to power huge new social programs like universal pre-school, large subsidies for child care and guaranteed paid leave.
“The best way to grow our economy is not from the top down, but from the bottom up and the middle out,” Mr Biden said in his budget message.
“Our prosperity comes from the people who get up every day, work hard, raise their family, pay their taxes, serve their Nation, and volunteer in their communities.”
The budget incorporates the administration’s eight-year, 2.3 trillion dollar (£1.62 trillion) infrastructure proposal and its 1.8 trillion dollar (£1.27 trillion) American Families Plan and adds details on his 1.5 trillion dollar (£1.06 trillion) request for annual operating expenditures for the Pentagon and domestic agencies.
Acting White House budget chief Shalanda Young said the Biden plan “does exactly what the president told the country he would do. Grow the economy, create jobs and do so responsibly by requiring the wealthiest Americans and big corporations to pay their fair share”.
Mr Biden’s budget is sure to give Republicans fresh ammunition for their criticisms of the new Democratic administration as bent on a “tax and spend” agenda that would damage the economy and impose a crushing debt burden on younger Americans. Republicans also say he’s shorting the military.
“It is insanely expensive. It dramatically increases non-defence spending and taxes” and would weaken the Pentagon, said South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, top Republican on the Budget Committee and a generally pragmatic GOP voice on spending bills.
“There will be serious discussions about government funding. But the Biden budget isn’t serious and it won’t be a part of those discussions.”