President Biden’s FY2024 Budget Calls for Bold Investments in Families While Missing the Mark on Immigration and Criminal Justice Reforms
This statement can be attributed to Indivar Dutta-Gupta, President and Executive Director of the Center for Law and Social Policy
Washington, D.C., March 9, 2022—President Biden released his FY 2024 budget today, outlining his priorities for federal investments in the health, wellbeing, and economic security of children, working families, seniors, and communities. Over the past few years, the United States demonstrated that, with the political will, we can dramatically reduce child poverty, expand health coverage, and support workers and caregivers—all of which in turn expanded the economy and reduced racial inequities. The question now is whether we will continue to build on these investments and ensure that our economy works for all. In some instances, the administration is proposing bold and effective policies that advance equity and prosperity. In other areas, especially immigration and public safety, the president’s budget requests and policy priorities undermine these goals.
The president’s budget arrives at a politically charged and highly partisan moment in our national politics. The House majority is threatening default on the debt unless the President agrees to steep cuts to critical programs. It’s also a time when pandemic-era assistance programs are winding down, with millions of people receiving less food assistance and facing risks of losing health insurance coverage under Medicaid. Congress faces clear choices, between continued investments to strengthen our economy and promote opportunity, paid for with responsible tax policy, or a default or budget cuts that would likely send the U.S. into recession.
The budget makes clear that raising the revenue needed to fund these crucial investments requires corporations and wealthy individuals to pay their fair share—a more equitable approach to tax policy that is long overdue and one CLASP fully supports. We endorse President Biden’s commitment to bringing greater fairness to our tax system which currently favors corporate interests and the affluent. Through bold measures such as raising taxes on capital gains and stock buybacks, higher Medicare taxes on high-income earners, a 25 percent minimum tax for billionaires, and eliminating a host of tax subsidies, the president is reversing some of the damage caused by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and raising the funds needed to invest in families and communities. In fact, the president’s plan reduces our overall debt by $3 trillion while also shoring up our social protection system.
Income and Economic Security
The United States saw historic reductions in child poverty, especially for Black and Hispanic children because of the Child Tax Credit in 2021, and we are glad to see a permanent, fully refundable version in the budget. The budget also supports expanding access to rental assistance and affordable housing programs. We also appreciate the continued investment in modernizing and strengthening the Unemployment Insurance (UI) system, as well as principles to reform UI to make it more robust, responsive, and equitable.
The budget proposed a significant increase in funding for nutrition assistance programs such as school meals and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). The budget also to aims to reduce barriers to access in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the nation’s number one tool at fighting hunger and food insecurity. The budget calls out many of the restrictions on SNAP access, such as the time limits, the denial of full benefits to residents of the territories, college students, and people with previous convictions, that we and other advocates have identified as amplifying racial and other existing inequities. Removing these barriers is an opportunity to make progress on a key policy priority to ensure that all people have access to healthy and affordable food.
It’s encouraging to see President Biden renew his commitment to strengthening the nation’s care infrastructure, which is essential to strengthening our economy and connecting people to economic opportunity and mobility.
We applaud the budget’s historic, proposed $600 billion investment over ten years in child care and early education programs. This investment will expand access to child care for 16 million more children–more than eight times the number of children who currently receive assistance for child care. Equally important is the president’s proposal to expand pre-K education, which will provide access to four million four-year-olds and eventually to 3-year-olds as well. All young children deserve equitable access to high-quality child care and early education and this proposal supports this goal.
The Biden administration also renewed its support and commitment to a national paid family and medical leave program with a proposed investment of $325 billion. This program would provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave for individuals to take time away from work to care for a newborn, sick child or family member, or to deal with their own illness. For more than 30 years, advocates have been fighting for paid leave, and in states where it’s been implemented, we know paid leave works, improving women’s earnings and workforce participation, maternal health outcomes, and children’s development. The budget also includes funding to support the creation of additional state-paid leave programs and for enforcement of the Family and Medical Leave Act, which provides job-protected, unpaid leave. Among additional proposals supporting the care economy, the budget includes guaranteed paid sick days and a $150 billion investment in home-based community services for seniors and people with disabilities.
Health Care and Mental Health
The budget fulfills the president’s commitment to make Medicare solvent and would make permanent the improved Affordable Care Act subsidies that were temporarily extended last year. We applaud efforts to close Medicaid coverage gaps in non-expansion states, and to make 12 months of postpartum coverage available in all states. These are important steps towards reducing health disparities, including by race. We are glad to see continued investments in mental health that will strengthen networks of the behavioral health workforce, increase parity between physical and mental health care, and expand coverage for providers.
Supporting Young Adults
While the Biden’s student debt relief program is on hold as the U.S. Supreme Court considers challenges to the plan, there is still a need for additional investments to support the aspirations of young adults to pursue postsecondary education and training. The administration’s budget proposal doubles the maximum Pell grant award by 2029 and provides $500 million to partially fund free community college, both positive steps toward expanding access to postsecondary education for young adults in low- and moderate-income families. We are pleased that the president calls for expanding eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit for adults without children raised at home to young adults ages 19-24. Finally, the budget acknowledges that the country’s youth are experiencing a mental health crisis, and notes the importance of allocating resources towards treatment, although CLASP would like to see a stronger emphasis on prevention that engages young people with positive messaging around well-being.
The increased investment in Registered Apprenticeships with an emphasis on the inclusion of women and people of color is encouraging. Registered Apprenticeships are proven, high-quality training programs that provide pathways to quality jobs. The Biden budget reflects the administration’s strong commitment to fighting climate change by establishing a Civilian Climate Corps and other job training programs in emerging, green industries. We’re pleased to see an increased investment in community college capacity to deliver high-quality training programs and investments in workforce development programs. Robust workforce development funding is essential to ensure that workers of color, women, youth, and individuals with barriers to employment are able to access the millions of jobs created by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act.
The president’s budget once again requests funding to support cities in hiring 100,000 new police officers nationwide. This is an outdated and racially inequitable approach to public safety. This proposal would endanger the lives of Black, Brown and Indigenous people whose communities continue to bear the brunt of this country’s police violence epidemic. The budget rightly invests in upstream and community-based safety strategies, but these investments cannot undo the harm from over-policing. The United States leads wealthy democracies in police killings per capita, and research suggests that police spending does disappointingly little to ensure public safety, while greater training does even less to prevent police violence. We encourage the administration to follow the evidence toward community safety strategies that invest in youth economic opportunities and well-being such as youth mobile crisis response models and quality jobs for young people.
There is little we can endorse about the proposals in the president’s budget on immigration. We disagree that many of the steps the administration has taken or proposed are contributing to a “safe, orderly, and humane immigration system.” The budget does include essential and important investments to support refugee services and immigration processing, including resources for the Office of Refugee Resettlement for legal counsel and post-release services for unaccompanied children. But those resources are dwarfed by the outsized increases in Customs and Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement as well as $4.7 billion in a contingency fund to respond to migrants arriving at the Southwest border that we oppose. Coupled with recent announcements such as the proposed asylum ban and reports about possible reinstitution of family detention, we are deeply concerned that the administration continues to uphold and expand nearly all of the problematic and harmful policies that arose during the Trump Administration. They fly in the face of President Biden’s previous commitments, harm children and families, and undermine the standing of the United States in the global fight for democracy.