Archives for category: Biden

Paul Waldman and Greg Sergeant of the Washington Post write about the untimely and unnecessary demise of the most effective anti-poverty program for children. One Democratic Senator, Joseph Manchin, killed it.

“My friends, some years ago, the federal government declared war on poverty, and poverty won,” Ronald Reagan declared in his State of the Union address in 1988. He lamented that “government created a poverty trap” that discouraged people from lifting themselves up.
Then as now, it was an idea driven by an ideology that says the government should do as little as possible to help people who are struggling. Then as now, it was refuted by facts.


As a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows, we did something extraordinary during the worst parts of the coronavirus pandemic: In the midst of a crisis that affected every part of our society and could have been economically calamitous, we drove poverty down. As economically painful as the crisis was, the aggressive public spending passed across the Trump and Biden presidencies dramatically mitigated the hardship Americans suffered.

Using just-released census figures, the group reports the results of the pandemic stimulus measures in 2021. In particular, the study looked at the expansion of the child tax credit, which was altered to give monthly payments to eligible families, including those with incomes too low to have income tax liability:

The expanded Child Tax Credit alone kept 5.3 million people above the annual poverty line and helped drive a stunning reduction in child poverty to a record low. Poverty overall also reached a record low and the uninsured rate dropped substantially, with Medicaid and Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace coverage reaching or nearing record highs.


The effect on minority groups was particularly dramatic: “In 2018 nearly 1 in 4 Black children lived in families with incomes below the poverty line. In 2021, fewer than 1 in 10 did.”


It’s important to remember that we define “poverty” as a line one can be over or under. The fact that a family has a bit more income than where that line is placed doesn’t mean they don’t struggle to make ends meet.

But government assistance can mean the difference between a family having enough to eat, being able to pay the rent and utilities, or becoming homeless. And it’s clear that antipoverty spending has had a tremendous impact.

This week the New York Times reported comprehensive data showing that over the past three decades, child poverty has declined dramatically, down from 28 percent of American children in 1993 to 11 percent in 2019. Much of the credit goes to the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit, which give significant benefits to low-income Americans.

Now, here’s the bad news: Sadly, the expanded CTC expired at the end of 2021. Almost all Democrats in Congress wanted to extend the expansion, but Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) refused; he reportedly told colleagues he worried that parents would use the money to buy drugs. Without that extra income, millions of children fell back into poverty in 2022.

That only reinforces what a success story pandemic relief was — even if some of its effects were temporary.

These data are also important for another reason. They undercut conservative arguments that such government help must be accompanied with work requirements, lest it incentivize recipients to slip into a “hammock” of “dependency,” as one wretched formulation of the idea has it.

“There was a huge decline in child poverty and a very large increase in parents working year round without any work requirements,” Sherman told us. “We did not need to require the parents to work.”
In practice, work requirements often wind up being little more than a weaponization of bureaucracy against poor people, forcing them to spend enormous amounts of time and energy satisfying paperwork requirements, with the threat of their benefits being withdrawn if they make a mistake.
Ultimately, however, the most important lesson might be this: We can choose to make our economic arrangements fairer. We can make collective decisions that children shouldn’t be disadvantaged at a very young age through no fault of their own.


Making the choice to alleviate poverty early in people’s lives, many economists agree, puts children on a path to becoming healthier, happier, more fulfilled, more productive adults. We have perpetually failed to make that choice, but this time, we did make it, and it worked.
“We decided that we could actually try things,” Sherman told us.

Unfortunately, thanks largely to a certain senator from West Virginia, Democratic majorities in Congress were unable to continue the expanded CTC. But the drop in child poverty is a very big story, and if Democrats can somehow hold those majorities, its legacy should ensure that we don’t make that absurd and unnecessary mistake again.

I wonder how Senator Joe Manchin feels, knowing that he is responsible for the demise of a federal program lifted millions of children out of povètt.

President Biden announced this morning that the rail industry and the workers’ unions had struck a tentative deal to avert a national rail strike. Such a strike would have crippled the economy and snarled supply chains.

Biden wanted to demonstrate that unions and management could work together, and they did.


“This agreement is validation of what I’ve always believed: Unions and management can work together, can work together, for the benefit of everyone,” he said in remarks in the Rose Garden.

Biden hosted the negotiators who brokered the railway labor agreement before his remarks.

“The negotiators here today. I don’t think they’ve been to bed yet,” Biden said.

The president called into the talks, which were being led by Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, around 9 p.m. Wednesday. Biden said on the call that a shutdown of railways was unacceptable, according to a White House official.

Biden, in his remarks, called the deal a win for America, as well as a win for rail workers and the dignity of work.“This agreement allows us to continue to rebuild a better America, with an economy that truly works for working people and their families. Today is a win, and I mean this sincerely, a win for America,” he said, thanking both business and labor for getting it done

Dana Milbank tries to keep up with Republican lies, but there are so many that it’s hard to refute them all. Right now, the biggest lie (other than the claim that Trump won the 2020 election) is that Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act will enable the IRS to hire 87,000 armed agents who will target middle-class Americans and arrive at their doors armed with AR15s. I know this lie has taken hold because a friend of modest means told me that, because Biden’s legislation passed, the IRS would send an armed agent to her door to collect her taxes.

He writes:

It is impossible to keep up with the volume of disinformation churned out by the MAGA-occupied Republican Party. But sometimes it’s worth pausing to examine the anatomy of a particularly egregious fabrication, to understand the broader “alternative fact” ecosystem that misinforms tens of millions of Americans.

Let’s consider the lie, endlessly repeated by Republicans and the Fox News-led echo chamber, that new legislation enacted by Democrats funds the hiring of “87,000 armed IRS agents.” Like the “death panel” fabrication during the Obamacare debate, this is a whole-cloth invention designed to stoke paranoia.

Sen. Rick Scott (Fla.), head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, sent an open letter last week warning Americans not to work for the IRS. He falsely claimed that the Democrats’ climate, energy and tax bill would add “roughly 87,000 agents” at the IRS, creating “an IRS super-police force”:

“The IRS made it very clear that one of the ‘major duties’ of these new positions is to ‘be willing to use deadly force.’ … The IRS is making it very clear that you not only need to be ready to audit and investigate your fellow hardworking Americans, your neighbors and friends, you need to be ready and, to use the IRS’s words, willing, to kill them.”

Where to begin?

The IRS certainly isn’t adding 87,000 armed agents. It isn’t even adding 87,000 agents. In fact, it’s not even adding 87,000 employees.

When you figure in attrition (current funding doesn’t let the IRS fill all vacancies), Treasury officials tell me, the expected increase in personnel would be more like 40,000, over the course of a decade — which would merely restore IRS staffing to around the 117,000 it had in 1990.

Only about 6,500 of the new hires would be “agents.” The rest would be customer-service representatives, data specialists and the like.
And fewer than 1 percent of the new hires would be armed. (The IRS job posting Scott cited, which predated the new law, was specifically for such law-enforcement personnel.) Such officers, who go after drug rings and Russian oligarchs, have been part of the IRS for more than a century.


As for the IRS coming after “hardworking Americans,” Treasury says the new law will result in a “lower likelihood of audit” for ordinary taxpayers, because technology upgrades will enable the IRS to target the actual tax cheats — the super-rich — for more audits. The wealthiest 1 percent defraud the government, and fellow taxpayers, of more than $160 billion a year.


So here we have a Republican Party leadership figure generating false hysteria about armed government agents, hysteria that has increased threats against the people who collect the funds for the U.S. military, among everything else. And he’s dishonestly fomenting antigovernment fury in the service of protecting filthy-rich tax cheats.
It isn’t just Scott.


Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.), fantasizing about an “army of 87,000 IRS agents,” proclaimed that “we WILL NOT FUND these 87k armed new IRS agents who will target the American people.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa) mused on Fox News about “a strike force that goes in with AK-15s [sic] already loaded ready to shoot some small-business person.”

House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) warned that “Democrats’ new army of 87,000 IRS agents will be coming for you.”

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel saw an “IRS ‘SWAT team’ ” invading “your kids’ lemonade stand.”

Fox News’s Brian Kilmeade imagined that IRS agents would “hunt down and kill middle class taxpayers that don’t pay enough.”

Rep. Thomas Massie (Ky.) envisioned “87,000 new agents, AR-15s and 5 million rounds of ammunition.”

Somebody has to keep track of GOP lies. I’m glad Dana Milbank is doing it.

Lindsay Owens and David Dayen note that some of the most outspoken critics of Biden’s decision to forgive up to $20,000 in student debt are Obama-era economists. Republicans have called it “socialism” and worse, but some Democratic economists are also upset. Owens and Dayen attribute their anger to the failure of Obama’s policy to solve the home foreclosure crisis.

They write:

President Biden’s long-awaited decision to wipe out up to $20,000 in student debt was met with joy and relief by millions of borrowers, and a temper tantrum from centrist economists.null

Moments after the announcement, former Council of Economic Advisers Chair Jason Furman took to Twitter with a dozen tweets skewering the proposal as “reckless,” “pouring … gasoline on the inflationary fire,” and an example of executive branch overreach (“Even if technically legal I don’t like this amount of unilateral Presidential power.”). Brookings economist Melissa Kearny called the proposal “astonishingly bad policy” and puzzled over whether economists inside the administration were “all hanging their heads in defeat.” Ben Ritz, the head of a centrist think tank, went so far as to call for the staff who worked on the proposal to be fired after the midterms.

Histrionics are nothing new on Twitter, but it’s worth examining why this proposal has evoked such strong reactions. Elizabeth Popp Berman has argued in the Prospect that student loan forgiveness is a threat to the economic style of reasoning that dominates Washington policy circles. That’s correct. But President Biden’s elegant and forceful approach to tackling the student loan crisis also may feel like a personal rebuke to those who once worked alongside President Obama as he utterly failed to solve the debt crisis he inherited.

Let’s be very clear: The Obama administration’s bungled policy to help underwater borrowers and to stem the tide of devastating foreclosures, carried out by many of the same people carping about Biden’s student loan cancellation, led directly to nearly ten million families losing their homes. This failure of debt relief was immoral and catastrophic, both for the lives of those involved and for the principle of taking bold government action to protect the public. It set the Democratic Party back years. And those throwing a fit about Biden’s debt relief plan now are doing so because it exposes the disaster they precipitated on the American people.

One reason the Obama administration failed to swiftly help homeowners was their obsession with ensuring their policies didn’t help the “wrong” type of debtor.

President Obama campaigned on an aggressive platform to prevent foreclosures. Larry Summers, one of the critics of Biden’s student debt relief, promised during the Obama transition in a letter to Congress that the administration “will commit substantial resources of $50-100B to a sweeping effort to address the foreclosure crisis.” The plan had two parts: “helping to reduce mortgage payments for economically stressed but responsible homeowners,” and “reforming our bankruptcy laws” by allowing judges in bankruptcy proceedings to write down mortgage principal and interest, a policy known as “cramdown.”

The administration accomplished neither. On cramdown, the administration didn’t fight to get the House-passed proposal over the finish line in the Senate. Credible accounts point to the Treasury Department and even Summers himself (who just last week said his preferred method of dealing with student debt was to allow it to be discharged in bankruptcy) lobbying to undermine its passage. Summers “was really dismissive as to the utility of it,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) said at the time. “He was not supportive of this.”

Summers and Treasury economists expressed more concern for financially fragile banks than homeowners facing foreclosure, while also openly worrying that some borrowers would “take advantage” of cramdown to get undeserved relief. This is also a preoccupation of economist anger at student debt relief: that it’s inefficient and untargeted and will go to the “wrong” people who don’t need it. (It won’t.)

For mortgage modification, President Obama’s Federal Housing Finance Agency repeatedly refused to use its administrative authority to write down the principal of loans in its portfolio at mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—the simplest and fastest tool at its disposal. Despite a 2013 Congressional Budget Office study that showed how modest principal reduction could help 1.2 million homeowners, prevent tens of thousands of defaults, and save Fannie and Freddie billions, FHFA repeatedly refused to move forward with principal reduction, citing their own efforts to study whether the policy would incentivize strategic default (the idea that financially solvent homeowners would default on their loans to try and access cheaper ones).

Virtually everyone involved with the housing system was stunned that the options of cramdown and principal reduction weren’t taken. Banks literally held meetings in expectation of Obama’s team requiring writedowns, until they didn’t.

Instead, the Obama administration rolled out the industry-backed Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), relying on the voluntary cooperation of servicers to modify mortgages. The program was, even by the administration’s own modest objectives, a failure, ultimately reaching less than a quarter of the three to four million homeowners it hoped to target. In the critical first two years, the administration did not even spend 3 percent of what they were allotted to save homeowners.

Just as with cramdown, one reason the Obama administration failed to swiftly help homeowners was their obsession with ensuring their policies didn’t help the “wrong” type of debtor. When Obama first announced HAMP in 2009, he said the program would “not reward folks who bought homes they knew from the beginning they would never afford.” The resulting “Goldilocks” proposal, with its focus on weeding out undeserving borrowers, would not be available to homeowners with incomes too high or too low and would be backstopped with voluminous income and financial verifications (in many cases, more than what was required to take out the loan in the first place). Treasury also tweaked the program numerous times as they went along, confusing servicers and borrowers. The barrage of paperwork ground the program to a halt at many servicers, and ultimately nearly a quarter of modifications were rejected on the grounds that incomplete paperwork was provided.

But it was much worse than that. The mortgage servicers used HAMP like a predatory lending program, squeezing homeowners for as many payments as possible before canceling their modifications and kicking them out of their homes. These companies had financial incentives to foreclose rather than modify loans. In one particularly excruciating example, the servicer arm of Bank of America offered its employees Target gift cards as a bonus for placing borrowers into foreclosure.

This was also by design, or at least benign neglect. Then–Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner candidly told officials that the program was intended to help banks, not borrowers. The purpose was to “foam the runway” for the banks, Geithner said, with homeowners and their families being the foam crushed by a jumbo jet in that scenario. If the goal was just to let the banks use HAMP for their own benefit, it’s not surprising that would come at homeowners’ expense.

And those banks executed their plan fraudulently, using millions of forged and fabricated documents to illegally foreclose on people. Even with this new leverage against the banks, the administration failed to provide equitable relief. A new program, the National Mortgage Settlement, promised one million principal reductions but delivered only 83,000. Meanwhile, millions more unlawful foreclosures ensued, and no high-level executive was convicted in association with any of these crimes.

In short, the policy apparatus ultimately failed to assist the majority of people who sought help, a suboptimal policy outcome by any metric. Student debt relief skeptics like Furman spent the Obama years advocating for privatizing Fannie and Freddie, rather than apologizing for falling so short on dealing with the massive debt overhang, which stunted the economic recovery.

President Biden’s approach has been markedly different and, if well implemented, is poised to be extremely effective. The simplicity of the program design, with its straightforward cancellation thresholds ($10,000/$20,000) and eligibility criteria (Pell status and household income), means the policy should deliver nearly 90 percent of its relief dollars to those making less than $75,000 a year. Will some small amount of relief dollars land in the bank accounts of borrowers who will make higher incomes in the future? Absolutely. Is preventing that outcome more important than delivering relief to 43 million borrowers? Of course not.

It’s not just the policy design that is a rebuke to the old guard’s theory of debt relief; it’s also the rhetoric. Notably, in his 20-minute speech announcing the rollout of the student loan relief program, President Biden didn’t mention “bad debtors” once. He didn’t spend a single breath on the individual failings of borrowers, make any reference to their poor decision-making, or nod to a handful of unscrupulous debtors trying to game the system.

Instead, he talked about the failings of our higher-education system, in which “an entire generation is now saddled with unsustainable debt.” Instead of blaming borrowers, he showed them empathy. Instead of talking about borrowers taking advantage of the system, he vowed to hold “colleges accountable for jacking up costs without delivering value to students” and crack down on “schools luring students with the promise of big paychecks when they graduate only to watch these students be ripped off and left with mountains of debt.” And he headed concerns about moral hazard off at the pass, vowing to “never apologize for helping the working and middle class.”

Moreover, Biden wasn’t afraid to use all of the tools available to him to get results for indebted borrowers. The Obama administration was given funding from Congress, an explicit mandate for foreclosure prevention, and at the end, a settlement with the banks that authorized even more money. They still failed, because they were more interested in deluded notions of “personal responsibility” than acting to avert disaster.

Biden has flipped the Beltway consensus on policy design around debt forgiveness and modeled a path for viewing student debt as a national crisis, rather than an individual failing. It’s a stunning reversal of the Obama-era consensus and one that casts that failed legacy of mortgage debt relief in an even darker light. Biden has shown us there was an easier, softer way all along.

Republicans are outraged that Biden is forgiving the student loan debt of millions of borrowers by $10,000-20,000. They have denounced loan forgiveness as “socialism,” a “big government giveaway,” and worse.

They are on the wrong side of history and politics.

I can tell you from the two years I worked in the U.S. Department of Education that there is a student loan industry that has a powerful lobby. They want student debt to be as high as possible and they want the rates to be as high as possible. Biden’s decision is very disappointing to their lobbyists.

Zachary D. Carter writes in Slate that there is a long history of forgiving debt. This is a terrific article. I urge you to read it.

He begins:

In 1920, the world’s most famous economist, John Maynard Keynes, was digging through old books on the economy of the ancient world, when he discovered something startling. All his life he had been taught that civilization depended on ironclad financial certainty. Without a stable currency and dependable debt contracts, commerce could not exist. Governments that meddled in such matters were thought to be asking for social chaos.

But the documents he perused on Ancient Greece, Rome, Babylon, Assyria, and Persia showed him something else entirely. Throughout history, political leaders had abolished debts and managed the value of their currencies—another way to revise debts—as routine matters of government policy. Keynes was electrified. A year earlier, he had staked his reputation on a call to cancel the largest debts the world had ever seen—those accrued by the governments of Europe during World War I. If these debts were not cleared, Keynes had argued, the international trading system would break down, leading to misery and another war. Predictably, the financial establishments on two continents responded to this apparent heresy with alarm. Now Keynes had discovered precedent for his ideas — thousands of years’ worth, from Hammurabi in ancient Babylon to Solon of Athens.

[As a side note, the Treaty of Versailles imposed massive debt on Germany. Had that debt been forgiven, there might have been no World War II.]

Indeed, debt relief has always been the handmaiden of debt itself. In the United States we have a formal legal process for eliminating nearly all forms of debt: bankruptcy. When debts become unbearable, people file for bankruptcy to have them discharged in court. In the 15 years preceding the pandemic, more than 14.3 million people filed for bankruptcy, and in the decade prior to the pandemic, more than 20,000 businesses filed for bankruptcy every year, with a high water mark of 60,837 in 2009. Debts are discharged every day in the United States, and have been for decades.

Indeed, debt relief has always been the handmaiden of debt itself. In the United States we have a formal legal process for eliminating nearly all forms of debt: bankruptcy. When debts become unbearable, people file for bankruptcy to have them discharged in court. In the 15 years preceding the pandemic, more than 14.3 million people filed for bankruptcy, and in the decade prior to the pandemic, more than 20,000 businesses filed for bankruptcy every year, with a high water mark of 60,837 in 2009. Debts are discharged every day in the United States, and have been for decades.

Not that you would know from the apocalyptic conservative outrage emanating from social media and cable television this week. When President Joe Biden announced his new student loan relief program on Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell decried it as “socialism” and Utah Sen. Mitt Romney called it a naked attempt to “bribe the voters.” Reason magazine’s Robby Soave declared it a “fuck you to every financially responsible person in the country.” These reactions belie centuries if not millennia of economic history.

Capitalism would collapse without debt relief systems. Businesses get in trouble all the time—both good businesses that would work fine without a few onerous debt deals, and bad businesses that need to be liquidated or restructured. Sometimes bad things just happen. People get divorced. They get injured and are overwhelmed by medical bills. They get laid off. They have to pay for a parent’s funeral or care for children with special needs. And yeah, some people just don’t know how to manage their money and buy things they can’t afford. But we do not consign such people to never-ending financial servitude as a result of unforeseen circumstances, or even totally reckless spending habits. We have a formal process to eliminate debts and start over, with a reasonable chance of living a healthy financial life.

But not for students who borrow money to attend college. In 2005, Congress passed a law that made it next to impossible to discharge almost any form of student debt. Even the most creative consumer lawyers estimate that only about $50 billion—less than 3 percent of the $1.75 trillion in outstanding student debt—had the potential to be wiped away, but only if students could persuade a court that they had been egregiously wronged, by say, non-accredited programs or institutions that didn’t actually offer degrees.

Biden’s new student debt relief program exists because student debt is currently ineligible for the ordinary process that Americans use for extinguishing excessive debts….

Nor are the recipients of Biden’s aid particularly wealthy. The plan flatly excludes anyone who makes more than $125,000 a year from participation. According to an analysis by the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Wharton Budget Model, about half of the money will go to borrowers in the bottom half of the income spectrum, with only 2.5 percent of folks breaking into the top 10 percent receiving relief. The median personal income in the United States—the 50 percent line—is $35,800. This makes sense once we consider the actual demographics of the typical American college student, who is not an Ivy Leaguer bound for the 1 percent. About 40 percent of all undergraduate students attend community colleges, about one-third of whom take out student loans to help pay for their education. The average community college borrowergraduating with more than $13,000 in debt. There are also racial disparities in student debt: According to a Brookings Institute analysis, Black borrowers shoulder roughly double the amount of debt to attend college that white borrowers do.



Connecticut Member of Congress Rosa De Lauro is chair of the House Appropriations Committee, one of the most powerful members of Congress. She is a staunch friend of working people and public schools.

WASHINGTON, DC – Chair of the House Appropriations Committee Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) today released a statement following President Biden’s announcement of his student debt plan.

“Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. The biggest corporations are using their money to rig the game, and costs are on the rise.

“I applaud President Biden for taking a necessary step today to level the playing field for working Americans by cancelling $10,000 in student debt for borrowers who earn under $125,000 a year and up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients. This will completely wipe out debt for millions of borrowers and give many the economic security they need to invest in a small business, buy a home, or simply just take care of their families.

“Today’s announcement builds on historic actions by the Biden administration to provide student debt relief to borrowers in need. By discharging loans for borrowers ripped off by for-profit colleges, making administrative improvements to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, and canceling loans for permanently disabled borrowers, the President has already approved $36 billion in student loan relief. In addition, the Biden administration is drafting improvements to income-driven repayment programs, including proposals I have pushed for in my Affordable Loans for Any Student Act, so that no borrower has to struggle to make monthly payments.

“Democrats in Congress and President Biden are delivering on commitments to make college more affordable, make student loan repayment manageable, provide relief for those in need, and hold predatory colleges accountable for ripping off students. Americans need a government that works for working families and the vulnerable – not one that answers to the wealthiest and biggest corporations. Today’s announcement is a huge step toward dealing working Americans back in.”

 

# # #

delauro.house.gov

President Biden issued sweeping student debt relief for people earning less than $125,000 a year.

The Washington Post reports:

White House officials are planning to cancel up to $20,000 in student debt for recipients of Pell Grants as part of their broader announcement on Wednesday of student debt forgiveness, four people familiar with the matter said.


The extra debt forgiveness for Pell recipients would be in addition to the expected cancellation of up to $10,000 in student debt for most other borrowers. The White House’s plans are only expected to apply to Americans earning under $125,000 per year, or $250,000 per year for married couples who file taxes jointly, the people familiar said.


Roughly 43 million federal student loan borrowers would be eligible for some level of forgiveness, including 20 million who could have their debt completely canceled, according to internal documents shared with The Washington Post. The White House estimates that 90 percent of relief will go to people earning less than $75,000.

President Biden proposed a $2.2 trillion investment in stopping climate change, expanding health care, and other ambitious goals. But Democrats hold only 50 seats in the Senate, and the defection of only one vote would kill any bill. As it happened, the Democrats had two Senators who blocked Biden’s plans: Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. Both demanded and won concessions. The bill that passed over the weekend is still a dramatic improvement over doing nothing, but the holdouts watered it down.

Except for Manchin and Sinema, every Democrat supported the bill; the two holdouts required concessions. Every single Republican opposed every part of the bill, except for the part lowering the monthly cost of insulin, supported by 7 Republicans, not enough to save the proposal.

As a general proposition, the vote on the bill shows that Republicans are staunchly opposed to any legislation to slow the devastating effects of climate change and overwhelmingly opposed to lowering the cost of prescription drugs. The seven Republicans who voted with the Democrats were probably given permission by Leader McConnell to break ranks, since their seven votes were insufficient to pass the provision.

WASHINGTON — After months of painstaking negotiations, Democrats are set to push through a climate, tax and health care package that would salvage key elements of President Biden’s domestic agenda.

The legislation, while falling far short of the ambitious $2.2 trillion Build Back Better Act that the House passed in November, fulfills multiple longstanding Democratic goals, including countering the toll of climate change on a rapidly warming planet, taking steps to lower the cost of prescription drugs and to revamping portions of the tax code in a bid to make it more equitable.

Here’s what’s in the final package:

It is the largest single American investment to slow global warming.

The bill includes the largest expenditures ever made by the federal government to slow global warming and to reduce demand for the fossil fuels that are primarily responsible for causing climate change.

Energy experts said the measure would help the United States to cut greenhouse gas emissions about 40 percent below 2005 levels by the end of this decade. That puts the Biden administration in striking distance of meeting its goal of cutting emissions roughly in half by 2030. Far more will be needed to help keep the planet from warming to dangerously high global temperatures, scientists said, but Democrats considered it a momentous first step after decades of inaction.

It would invest nearly $400 billion over 10 years in tax credits aimed at steering consumers to electric vehicles and prodding electric utilities toward renewable energy sources like wind or solar power.

A number of fossil fuel and drilling provisions as concessions to Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, a holdout from a conservative state that is heavily dependent on coal and gas.

The measure would assure new oil drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska’s Cook Inlet. It would expand tax credits for carbon capture technology that could allow coal or gas-burning power plants to keep operating with lower emissions. And it would mandate that the Interior Department continue to hold auctions for fossil fuel leases if it plans to approve new wind or solar projects on federal lands.

The tax credits include $30 billion to speed the production of solar panels, wind turbines, batteries and critical minerals processing; $10 billion to build facilities to manufacture things like electric vehicles and solar panels; and $500 million through the Defense Production Act for heat pumps and critical minerals processing.

There is $60 billion to help disadvantaged areas that are disproportionately affected by climate change, including $27 billion for the creation of what would be the first national “green bank” to help drive investments in clean energy projects — particularly in poor communities. The bill would also force oil and gas companies to pay fees as high as $1,500 a ton to address excess leaks of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, and it would undo a 10-year moratorium on offshore wind leasing established by President Donald J. Trump.

Medicare could directly negotiate the price of prescription drugs, pushing down costs.

For the first time, Medicare would be allowed to negotiate with drugmakers on the price of prescription medicines, a proposal projected to save the federal government billions of dollars. That would apply to 10 drugs initially, beginning in 2026, and then expand to include more drugs in the following years.

Opponents argue that the plan would stifle innovation and the development of new treatments by cutting into the profits that drug companies can plow into their business, while some liberals expressed frustration that the policy would be too slow to take hold. Should the package become law, as expected, it would be the largest expansion of federal health policy since passage of the Affordable Care Act.

The package would cap the out-of-pocket costs that seniors pay annually for prescription drugs at $2,000, and would ensure that seniors have access to free vaccines. Lawmakers also included a rebate should price increases outpace the rate of inflation. (Top Senate rules officials, however, said that penalty could apply only to Medicare, not private insurers.)

Republicans successfully challenged the inclusion of a $35 price cap on insulin for patients on private insurance during a rapid-fire series of amendment votes early Sunday morning, forcing its removal. But a separate proposal that caps the price of insulin at $35 per month for Medicare patients remained intact….

The tax proposals were shaped by Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Democrat of Arizona, who resisted her party’s push to increase tax rates on the country’s wealthiest corporations and individuals.

To avoid the rate increase Ms. Sinema opposed, Democrats instead settled on a far more complex change to the tax code: a new 15 percent corporate minimum tax on the profits companies report to shareholders. It would apply to companies that report more than $1 billion in annual income on their financial statements but that are also able to use credits, deductions and other tax treatments to lower their effective tax rates.

Ms. Sinema did protect a deduction that would benefit manufacturers, a change she successfully demanded before committing on Thursday to moving forward with the legislation. And she joined six other Democrats and all Republicans in narrowing the scope of that corporate minimum tax by backing an amendment in the final hours of the vote-a-rama Sunday afternoon.

Democrats, to make up for the loss of revenue forced by that amendment, extended a limit on tax deductions for business losses that was enacted as part of the Trump tax cuts in 2017.

She also forced the removal of a proposalsupported by Democrats and Republicans that would have narrowed a tax break used by both hedge fund and private equity industries to secure lower tax rates than their entry-level employees. And she committed to pursuing separate legislation outside of the budget package, but that would require at least 10 Republicans to support it.

Robert Hubbell is a blogger who always has interesting things to say. In this post, he excoriates Joe Manchin for destroying Biden’s ambitious domestic agenda. And he urges Biden to fire Merrick Garland for his unwillingness to open a case against Trump for attempting a coup.

A few weeks ago, a story surfaced that Biden planned to nominate an anti-abortion lawyer in Kentucky to a federal judgeship. Apparently, he cut a deal with Mitch McConnell to speed up judicial confirmations in exchange for speeding up some of Biden’s judicial appointments.

But apparently the deal fell apart and Biden will not give Chad Meredith a lifetime appointment.

WASHINGTON — The White House is abandoning plans to nominate a Kentucky lawyer who opposes abortion rights and is backed by Senator Mitch McConnell to a federal court seat, citing opposition from Senator Rand Paul, Mr. McConnell’s home-state colleague.

The resistance from Mr. McConnell’s fellow Republican marked a new twist over a potential nomination that had prompted outrage on the left. Democrats were incensed that President Biden’s team had agreed to advance a conservative chosen by Mr. McConnell to fill a district court vacancy as the party is stepping up its focus on countering new abortion restrictions.

The prospective nominee, Chad Meredith, had successfully defended Kentucky’s anti-abortion law as a lawyer for the state. Mr. Biden’s plan to nominate him was made public by The Louisville Courier-Journal just before the Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade precedent that established abortion rights…

The blue slip tradition followed by the Senate Judiciary Committee effectively gives home-state senators veto power over the selection of federal district court judges for their states.

“In considering potential district court nominees, the White House learned that Senator Rand Paul will not return a blue slip on Chad Meredith,” Andrew Bates, a White House spokesman, said Friday in a statement. “Therefore, the White House will not nominate Mr. Meredith.”