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Clean Power

Cost of Build Back Better Proposal: Close To $0, Cost of Catastrophic Climate Change: $551 Trillion

Right now, as I’ve highlighted briefly before, there’s a hot negotiation underway between almost every other Democrat in the House & Senate and two Democratic Senators — Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin. Republican Party politicians are non-existent in the negotiations*, and since the US Senate is split 50–50, with Vice President Kamala Harris as the deciding vote, we need 100% of Democratic senators onboard in order to pass anything. (Fun.)

The big push right now is to deliver on Biden’s agenda, what Biden promised and what ~99% of Democrats in office (if not 100%) made promises about when they ran for office. Why that’s something that needs to be negotiated within the party may seem like a mystery, but it appears to just come down to the financial interests of Sinema and Manchin. Though, there is some misleading handwaving and muttering going on about the US budget and economy that might confuse some passersby nonetheless. So, I wanted to take a moment to put a few things into perspective, and to also highlight what is actually in the Build Back Better proposal at the moment. (Also, though, let’s be frank — there’s much more on the line than just what’s in the proposal.)

Build Back Better … Over Next 10 Years

First of all, it should be noted that the “$3.5 trillion bill” most Democrats, Biden included, are pushing for is covering a 10-year period, so the actual annual cost is $350 billion. That us half of the annual cost of U.S. defense spending. One would think that the richest nation on Earth could find some money to spend on something other than the military, right?

Even more poignantly, Bill McKibben (who I recently interviewed) highlighted that the “cost” to these investments is peanuts compared to the cost of unchecked climate change/catastrophe. It’s like saying, I don’t want to spend $1 to drive to work, so I’m just not going to work any more. Not intelligent.

Actually, though, the bill includes ways to pay for itself, effectively making the cost of the bill close to $0. So, all of the nonsense about how “expensive” it is — it’s just that, nonsense.

But What’s In The Build Back Better Bill?

But I just fell into the same trap others in the media and politics have fallen into with this bill, focusing on the price tag of the bill rather than what’s in it. Let’s look at what 99% of Democrats are trying to get passed, what the majority of the American public has indicated it would like to see passed (large chunks of Republicans as well), and what two seemingly self-serving senators (plus the 50 on the Republican side) are blocking. Who better to explain it than a congressman who knows how to speak in plain English. But he can also start with some perspective on the price tag (I know, I know):

So, let’s recap:

  • modest but important funding to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles, solar energy, and wind energy
  • giving Medicare the ability to negotiate drug prices so that pharmaceutical companies don’t rip them off as much
  • instituting a long-term version of the current child tax credit so that less wealthy families with young kids can afford food, housing, and a bare minimum quality of life in the richest nation on Earth (note: aside from the fact that this is just the moral thing to do, helping these families to have a basic foundation with regard to the necessities of life will make it more likely the kids will become productive members of society as they grow up)
  • not nearly as much as Europeans get (after all, “we can’t afford” to have the nice things Europeans have), but some guaranteed time off for when people have medical or family needs to take care of
  • dental and vision coverage for seniors on Medicare — because, you know, those are thing that old people may need help with, and we supposedly care for our neighbors in this country.

So, that’s some of the key stuff in this bill. You can see more here as well. How anyone can oppose this is beyond my moral comprehension. The level of selfishness and warped logic required to oppose those things are truly bewildering.

But we’re not done yet. The price tag is supposedly the concern.

How To Pay For The Build Back Better

Again, that make no sense on the surface considering that the annual federal budget is $5 trillion, meaning that $350 billion is a drop in the bucket, but there’s much more to note at all. This is not a check to an alien society on a foreign planet. The “cost” also comes with significant returns on the investment. In actuality, the economic benefit will easily surpass the cost. Here’s a partial explanation from Mr. Casten:

Difficult? No. Risky? No. Completely sensible and good for the United States? Yes!

This is simply about investing in the American people and taking care of our elderly rather than letting the 0.1% continuously explode their wealth to levels they can’t fathom and that don’t even change their lives in any notable way.

Remember, aside from 50 Republicans in the Senate (feel free to call their offices or the companies that fund them if any represent you), there are just two Democratic politicians blocking the above bill — Senator Kyrsten Sinema and Senator Joe Manchin. Contact them and let them know how you feel and how inclined you are to support them in the future. You have contact forms above, and here are the phone numbers:

*Since they have become the party of do-nothing-but-cut-taxes-on-the-richest-of-the-rich robots and authoritarian, brainwashed seditionists (which are enabled by the former). I think the former outnumber the latter, but who knows these days? Look at the detailed history of the rise of Mussolini, Hitler, and other fascist authoritarians.

Featured photo by Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0 license)

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Written By

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.


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