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President Biden’s Budget Proposes a National Paid Family Leave Program

Proposing new social services and higher taxes on the wealthy, the plan also includes $1 trillion in military spending.

President Joe Biden waves to supporters after speaking at an event about lowering costs for American families at the Granite YMCA Allard Center of Goffstown on March 11, 2024, in Goffstown, New Hampshire.

The White House released a 2025 budget proposal on Monday that would raise taxes on corporations and the ultra-wealthy to reduce deficits and invest in working families and the middle class, a plan meant to stand in stark contrast to Republican visions for the future as President Joe Biden seeks reelection in November.

Notably, the Biden budget proposes a national, “comprehensive” paid family leave program, a major priority for progressives and the labor movement. The program would provide all workers up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a newborn, a sick loved one or themselves during an illness.

The proposed budget would also restore the child tax credit that cut child poverty by 46 percent in 2021 and establish a “historic new program” to guarantee families making less than $200,000 a year access to affordable child care from birth until kindergarten, an investment that supporters say would pay for itself by boosting worker productivity and the economy.

However, such proposals would go nowhere if Congress remains divided after elections in November. For Biden, the budget functions as a pitch to voters that paints him as a champion of working families who are frustrated with the economy — and, if the polls are correct, appear to blame the president.

After being hammered by Republicans for months over inflation, Biden says his top domestic priority is bringing down the costs of higher education, health care, child care and housing. The White House claims the president’s budget is designed to do just with broad proposals for new social spending and infrastructure investment, all while saving middle- and lower-income taxpayers $765 billion over the next 10 years.

However, the Biden budget is unlikely to become reality with a Republican majority in the House, where lawmakers released a vastly different budget blueprint last week. Like his recent State of the Union speech, the president’s budget instead provides Biden the opportunity to lay out his domestic agenda and criticize his rival, former President Donald Trump.

In a campaign speech in Atlanta, Georgia, on Saturday, Biden spoke of building the economy from the “middle out and the bottom up, not top down.” Trump did the exact opposite, Biden said.

“[Trump] enacted a $2 trillion tax cut that overwhelmingly benefited the top one half of 1 percent and the biggest corporations and exploded the federal deficit,” Biden said. “He added more to the national debt in the four years he was there than any presidential term in history.”

The Biden budget aims to reduce the federal deficit by $3 trillion in the next decade by closing tax loopholes, funding the IRS to crack down on wealthy tax cheats and partially reversing the 2017 tax cuts championed by Trump and the GOP, according to the White House. Tax cuts for households making more than $400,000 a year would be allowed to expire, and the corporate tax rate would increase to 21 to 28 percent, still well below pre-2017 levels.

Biden has repeatedly promised not to raise taxes on households making less than $400,000 a year and is expected to promote a “fair tax code” on the campaign trail while painting Republicans as working on behalf of the wealthy.

Sharon Parrott, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said there is substantial evidence that the 2017 tax cuts — the first major legislation signed by Trump — were “extremely expensive and heavily skewed” toward wealthiest households and corporations. Republicans promised the cuts would fuel a boom in business investment and the savings would “trickle down” the economic ladder, but research shows the “trickle down” simply did not happen.

“The combination of the [Biden] budget’s revenue increases and its high-value investments will support economic growth, broaden prosperity, and promote equity by investing in people and communities whose futures have been systematically shortchanged by racism, other forms of discrimination, and deep under-investment,” Parrott said in a statement.

Yet the Biden budget also includes more than $1 trillion in military spending, more than twice the proposed spending on social programs, environmental protection and infrastructure. The $1 trillion excludes additional spending on the Pentagon’s support for various wars, including the war against Russia in Ukraine and Israel’s brutal war on Gaza.

“That’s not all the militarism in the budget,” writes Lindsay Koshgarian, program director of the National Priorities Project, which tallied Biden’s proposed military spending. “In reality, the spending on militarization in this budget is even higher. These figures, which come from the administration, treat the militarization of domestic law enforcement — things like the domestic work of the FBI, federal marshalls, and grants to local law enforcement agencies — as domestic expenses.”

Republicans in Congress were quick to dismiss Biden’s budget.

“The House’s budget plan for the next fiscal year, preceding the President’s proposal, reflects the values of hardworking Americans who know that in tough economic times, fiscal discipline is non-negotiable,” House Republicans said in a joint statement on Monday.

Republicans on the House Budget Committee approved a budget blueprint last week with a stated goal of balancing the federal budget in 10 years with deep spending cuts. Critics say the blueprint is a thinly veiled ploy to slash key social programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

Along with new spending on housing and education, Biden’s budget includes $2.9 billion to tackle climate change and would boost funding for localities working to replace lead drinking water pipes that pose health risks to young children. The proposal also reflects the administration’s health care priorities, including lowering prescription drug prices through Medicare negotiations with drug companies and expanding access to affordable health coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

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