Breaking Down the Build Back Better Plan
Updated: Jan 13, 2022
Please encourage your representatives to support the Build Back Better Plan by signing our Build Back Better Petition.The time to act is now!
By: Christina Krost
"We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona experience was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature."-- Sonya Renee Taylor
What's the Problem?
The United States is the wealthiest country in the world, yet we rank 13th when it comes to the overall quality of our infrastructure. In fact, the American Society for Civil Engineers gives Illinois a C- on its infrastructure report card.
Our track record for “human infrastructure” is equally dismal, with nearly four in five private sector workers having no access to paid family leave, one in four Americans struggling to afford prescription drugs, and 10.5 million renters paying more than half their incomes in rent. Life expectancy in the U.S. ranks 40th in the world because we do not guarantee health care, child care, education, or housing to our people.
We need a plan that builds bridges to better jobs and healthier communities while combating the climate crisis and providing clean water for all.
The Build Back Better Plan has the potential to make life better for millions of Americans, creating a generation of good-paying union jobs and economic growth in frontline communities, including those that have suffered most due to Covid-19.
The Build Back Better Agenda will also cut taxes and lower costs for working families – all paid for by making the tax code more fair and making the wealthiest corporations pay their fair share.
What’s happening now?
Infrastructure and economic recovery legislation will move on two tracks: The $1.2 trillion bipartisan bill focused on physical infrastructure like roads and bridges and the $3.5 trillion bill that focuses on home care for the elderly and children, climate change and other non-traditional "human infrastructure." It could advance through Congress with only Democratic votes in a maneuver known as "reconciliation."
Passing both bills is absolutely critical. We must not allow a stripped-down reconciliation bill that does not advance climate, clean energy, and environmental justice.
What’s in the Build Back Better Plan?
Illinois stands to benefit in many ways from the Build Back Better Plan, as it targets 40% of the benefits of climate and infrastructure investments to disadvantaged communities. The plan also invests in rural communities and communities impacted by the transition to clean energy.
The Build Back Better Plan will help rebuild Illinois by:
Fixing highways, rebuilding bridges, and upgrading and transit systems with a focus on climate change mitigation, resilience, and safety for users;
Building a better energy grid and retrofitting buildings and homes to be more efficient;
Building a network of EV chargers to facilitate long-distance travel and reduce the pollution burden in high-traffic neighborhoods, often communities of color and low-income areas;
Delivering clean drinking water by replacing all lead pipes and service lines in our drinking water systems; and
Cutting climate pollution in half by 2030.
You can find Illinois-specific project proposals here.
The Build Back Better Plan will also strengthen Illinois families and communities by:
Ensuring that no middle-class family will pay more than 7% of their income for high-quality child care up to age five, and every parent will have access to high-quality preschool for three- and four-year-olds in the setting of their choice;
Instituting 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave to help improve the health of new mothers and reduce wage loss;
Providing two years of free community college—boosting the earnings of low-wage high school graduates by nearly $6,000 per year;
Investing billions in subsidized tuition for low- and middle-income students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and minority-serving institutions;
Reducing health insurance premiums and adding dental, vision, and hearing coverage;
Helping 4 million uninsured people gain coverage by closing the Medicaid gap;
Bolstering affordable and resilient housing through tax credits and government financing and supporting the construction or rehabilitation of more than two million homes; and
Extending the Child Tax Credit expansion, cutting child poverty nearly in half.
What can we do?
The Build Back Better Plan is our opportunity to take the climate action our communities desperately need while tackling our country’s interconnected crises—climate change, racial injustice, economic insecurity, and public health.
This plan works to provide good jobs for everyone who is currently unemployed, meets the gravity of the climate crisis, and meaningfully counteracts decades of underinvestment in frontline communities. It will build healthier families and communities and provide support for those who are often left behind.
As people of faith and conscience, this is legislation we wholeheartedly support.
People of faith and conscience are not alone: Two-thirds of voters think it is important that investments to create clean energy jobs are included as lawmakers in Congress negotiate; 67% agree the government should make investments to create clean energy jobs, even if that means raising taxes on large corporations and wealthy Americans; and 70% agree the U.S. should take ambitious actions to address climate change so other countries will follow our lead.
The Build Back Better Plan is a chance to help bring the vision of the beloved community to reality.
Please encourage your representatives to support the Build Back Better Plan by signing our Build Back Better Petition. The time to act is now!