The Top 5 Ways Biden’s domestic agenda helps Pa. kids, families, workers | Monday Morning Coffee

A new analysis runs the numbers on the $1.75T plan expected to get a vote on Capitol Hill this week

November 1, 2021 7:14 am

President Joe Biden talks on the phone with Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) following the Senate vote to pass the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, Aug. 10, 2021, in the Oval Office Dining Room of the White House. (Adam Schultz/Official White House Photo)

Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Assuming all goes to plan, and something doesn’t upset the apple cart (again), Democratic leaders in the U.S. House are looking for votes as early as Tuesday on President Joe Biden’s pared-down $1.75 trillion domestic agenda.

An approval, as the Associated Press reported over the weekend, would clear the way for a House vote on the White House’s $1.2 trillion, bipartisan infrastructure deal.

The broad outlines of the plan emerged last Thursday, as Capital-Star Washington Reporter Ariana Figueroa wrote. But amid all the national hubbub, Pennsylvanians may be justifiably wondering what’s in it for them.

Enter the progressive Pennsylvania Budget & Policy Center, which thoughtfully dropped a thorough analysis over the weekend of how the White House’s 10-year spending plan would impact Pennsylvanians’ everyday lives.

You can peruse the whole report at your leisure on this pre-Election Day Monday morning. But below, you’ll find the political equivalent of Cliff’s Notes, as we run down the five, big ways the White House’s agenda would help the commonwealth’s children, families, and workers.     

(Photo by Getty Images)

Universal Pre-School: Right now, only 16 percent of the state’s 244,279 eligible 3- and 4-year-olds have access to publicly funded preschool programs. Those who do not pay an average of $8,600 a year for such services, the analysis showed. The White House’s plan would allow the state to expand access to publicly-funded preschool to more than 204,716 kids a year, and increase the quality of programs for all kids, according to the PBPC’s analysis.

“Children who go to good preschools do better in school, are more likely to graduate from college [and] have higher incomes,” the center’s executive director, Marc Stier, wrote in the analysis, adding that  ” … Providing access to preschool to every child is a policy that’s critical to reducing economic and racial inequity in the next generation.”

Child Tax Credit: The bill now before lawmakers extends the popular child tax credit payments of $250 to $300 a month, and it includes “the permanent refundability of the Child Tax Credit, which means that families with the lowest incomes will continue to receive the full Child Tax Credit over the long run,” Stier wrote.

By the numbers, that means the 892,000 Pennsylvania children aged 17 and younger who were previously left out of the full $2,000 credit will now continue to benefit from it, Stier wrote, while, “the 140,000 children under the age of 18 who were lifted above the poverty line will stay above it. And the additional 171,000 children under 18 who were lifted closer to the poverty line would remain there.”

Free Food: The plan would provide access to free school meals for about 251,000 Pennsylvania students during the school year, and allow some 947,153 students to purchase food during the summer months, Stier wrote. Right now about 15 percent of all Pennsylvania children live in homes experiencing food insecurity, according to the analysis.

(Getty Images)

Health Care Expansion: The White House’s plan calls for closing a coverage gap in Medicaid, thus expanding insurance to those who do not have it, and extend insurance premium reductions included in the American Rescue Plan for people who buy their own insurance through 2025. It also would expand Medicare coverage for older Americans, according to the PBPC’s analysis.

In Pennsylvania, 122,000 people currently without coverage would gain it, and the 125,800 of the state’s poorest residents would save money on their coverage, Stier wrote. And about 140,000 commonwealth residents who benefited from reduced premiums under the previous American Rescue Plan would continue receive the reduction, Stier wrote.

Housing & Rental Assistance: The plan calls for expanding rental assistance for renters across the state, while “also increasing the supply of high-quality housing through the construction and rehabilitation of over 1 million affordable housing units nationwide,” Stier wrote (States notably lagged in distributing such aid, even as an eviction crisis loomed earlier this year, according to published reports.).

The plan also would “address the capital needs of the entire public housing stock in our state and it includes one of the largest investments in down-payment assistance in history, enabling more first-generation homebuyers to purchase their first home,” Stier wrote, noting that, “down-payment assistance is a major step toward repairing the damage that redlining did in preventing Black families from accumulating wealth through home ownership.”

In his analysis, Stier stressed that his data could be subject to change as more information about the plan becomes available in the lead-up to this week’s expected vote.

Pennsylvania State Capitol Building. (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller.)

Our Stuff.

In this week’s edition of The Numbers RacketCassie Miller takes a look at the partisan divide in the battle over voting rights.

It’ll likely be up to a judge to decide whether information on the cost of an abortive review of Fulton County’s 2020 election results, and who paid for it, can be made public, Marley Parish reports in a Monday must-read.

Americans in climate-threatened regions, including Pa., are anxious for solutions from the world climate summit in ScotlandLaura Cassels, of our sibling site, the Florida Phoenix, reports.

On our Commentary Page: With the U.S. Supreme Court set to hear a challenge to Texas’ highly restrictive abortion law today, opinion regular Bruce Ledewitz takes a look at what’s at stake in these highly consequential arguments. And opinion regular Dick Polman is pretty sure you wouldn’t want to be in U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland’s shoes right now.

(c) Scott Van Blarcom –


Pennsylvania election officials are bracing for a possibly toxic Election Day on Tuesday, the Inquirer reports.

A voter watchdog group is scrutinizing members of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation for lavish travel and spending, the Post-Gazette reports.

A Harrisburg diner owner isn’t ready to relocate his business so that PennDOT can carry out an expansion of Interstate 83, PennLive reports.

Spotlight PA takes a look at the closed-door process behind legislative redistricting (via the York Daily Record).

A Bucks County venture capitalist angered over COVID shutdowns has pumped an eye-watering $600K into local school board races, the Morning Call reports.

The Citizens’ Voice runs down the fundraising for a local district judge race.

Citing a conflict, Dr. Ala Stanford has dropped out of the running to become Philadelphia’s next health commissioner, WHYY-FM reports.

Penn State employees who believe they qualify for an exemption from the university’s mandatory vaccine requirement have until Nov. 12 to apply for oneStateImpact Pennsylvania reports.

Will other states follow Colorado’s lead and enact tougher gun laws? takes up the question.

With the midterms a year away, political groups are prepping for what could be the most expensive campaign season everRoll Call reports.

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What Goes On
The House and Senate are on Election Day break until Nov. 8.
1 p.m, Fort Indiantown Gap: Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee

Gov. Tom Wolf heads to Philadelphia for a 2 p.m. newser at City Hall announcing open enrollment for the state’s Pennie health insurance exchange.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Belated best wishes go out to PennLive videographer Jimmie Brown, who celebrated on Sunday. Up-to-date best wishes go out to Harrisburg civil rights veteran Joseph Robinson, who celebrates today. Congratulations, gents.

Heavy Rotation
Making me feel ancient indeed, R.E.M. dropped its 25th anniversary edition of its unjustly overlooked 1996 LP ‘New Adventures in Hi-Fi‘ late last week. The record has only gotten better with age, and now stands as one of their finest moments. From that LP here’s remastered version of ‘E-Bow the Letter,’ with the legendary Patti Smith.

Monday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link
The Carolina Hurricanes remain undefeated with a 2-1 win over Arizona on Sunday afternoon. The Coyotes are winless in their last nine games.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.