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“If you take all these changes [in the stimulus bill] together — in food programs, the child tax credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit, subsidies for health care coverage, major expansion of rental assistance, child care, and the like — this would be historic in terms of strengthening so many of these programs so much … in the same year,” says Robert Greenstein, the founder of the liberal analysis and advocacy group the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, who recently stepped down after nearly four decades as the organization’s president. “The combined effect on poverty, hardship and well-being for families with low or modest incomes would be bigger than anything I can recall since I came to Washington in 1972.”In the “human capital” package Biden is slated to announce soon, he’s widely expected to propose making several of those temporary programs permanent, particularly the expanded child tax credit and enhanced subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.”If these proposals are enacted on a permanent rather than a temporary basis, Biden will have achieved more here [for lower income families] than any Democratic president since LBJ,” Greenstein says flatly.And even that doesn’t exhaust the list: Advocates also expect Biden to propose funding for universal access to preschool programs and two years of tuition-free community college, a bookended pair of policies that would effectively extend the current 13 years of free public education to 17.What makes the sweep and ambition of this agenda especially striking is that Biden is pursuing it with razor-thin Democratic majorities and lockstep opposition from Republicans in both congressional chambers. “Biden is trying to do some combination of the New Deal and the Great Society with the narrowest conceivable political margin and with a country that is sharply divided on fundamentals,” says William Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who was a top White House domestic policy aide to President Bill Clinton.Given those constraints, Biden almost certainly won’t get all of what he wants in the economic sphere. And there’s at least some risk that his packages fail altogether because Democratic progressives and moderates can’t agree on the size, or how to pay for it. But complete breakdown doesn’t seem likely since the budget reconciliation process will allow Biden to pass his economic plan through the Senate solely with Democratic votes: While presidents inevitably face significant changes in the big economic proposals they present in their opening months, some versions of their original conceptions almost always do pass — think of the Clinton budget plan and Barack Obama stimulus proposals, or the tax cuts that Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Donald Trump won in their first years.

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