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Ulmer: Checking out the facts of the Build Back Better plan

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So how do you feel about President Biden’s Build Back Better plan? I’m willing to bet that you don’t know much about what’s in it, other than $3.5 trillion, because most Americans aren’t paying attention to the details.

Of course North Dakota’s congressional delegation is opposed to it because they’re Republicans and they don’t dare vote for a Democrat proposal. They’d rather make you believe that it’s just another case of radical leftist socialism.

Anyway, not trusting my delegation’s fairness in such matters I looked up whitehouse.gov/buildbackbetter to see what’s actually in the proposal. Here are a few of the things I discovered:

Lower child care costs by limiting them to 7% of a family’s income (average wage - $15/hour and child care - $12.50/hour), implementing paid family leave, providing universal preschool for 4- and 5-year-olds in a school of the parent’s choice.

Lower higher education costs by providing two years of tuition free community college and increasing Pell Grants.

Lower prescription drug cost by allowing Medicare to negotiate with drug companies. By the way, the drug industry wouldn’t allow this when President Bush created the Medicare drug benefit.

Lower health care costs by adding dental, vision, and hearing benefits to Medicare along with enhancing home care benefits for the elderly.

Tax cuts for families by increasing child (birth to 18) tax credit to $3,600 that can either be taken monthly or as a refund. Increase the earned income tax credit from $543 to $1,502 which is a great benefit for low wage workers.

Investing in schools and teachers by increasing free meals, providing incentives to get people into teaching and assisting schools in improving their infrastructure.

So how’s all this paid for? First off you need to know that the number $3.5 trillion is spent over a 10-year span. Secondly the plan is paid for by increasing taxes on folks making over $400,000/year, increasing corporate taxes, and increasing the IRS’s ability to audit those who aren’t paying their taxes. I’ll spare you the details and if you want them, go to whitehouse.gov.

After you’re done checking out the facts I think you’ll conclude that there really isn’t a bad idea in the plan. Let’s start with helping families and kids. For those of you who oppose this part the fact is that the vast majority of families today have both parents working. This is not likely to change. These families are raising the next generation of adults therefore the educational proposals increases their opportunities to meet the challenges of the future.

As the chief lobbyist for Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota, I paid close attention when President George W. Bush passed Medicare Part D, prescription drugs. PHARMA, the lobbyists for the drug companies, would only support the bill if it blocked Medicare’s ability to negotiate prices (Medicare is their most lucrative arena; it has something to do with old people). Allowing Medicare to negotiate drug costs is long overdue.

I’ll spare you the other details with high hopes that you will be a good citizen by researching the proposal as opposed to taking our right winged delegation's view in Washington and all the other lopsided talking heads in our local media.

For me this proposal along with the bipartisan infrastructure bills are steps that will assure our future. We have been gridlocked into conserving the status quo, whilst lambasting our federal government for not meeting our needs as a nation. It’s time to quit standing by wringing our hands and move forward and the only way we’ll get underway is when you as a citizen take the time to understand what’s being proposed as opposed to just being fed by whatever media you engage.

Dan Ulmer is a parent, grandparent, as well as a retired teacher, counselor, politician, lobbyist, public employee, nonprofit executive and opinionated citizen who believes that we need to do what we can to leave the world better off than we found it.

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