Beyond Labels

A 360° Discussion of Foreign, National and Local Policy Issues

Monday, October 18: Build Back Better

Means Testing Government Benefits

Joe Manchin has said he thinks at least some of the benefits called for in the Biden reconciliation package should be needs-based (NY Times: Benefits for All or Just the Needy?), so…

Should Federal government benefits programs (e.g., subsidies for purchasing electric vehicles, housing, child care, health care, paid parental leave, social security etc.) be needs-based? If so, why and how? If not, why not?

Here’s a link to a brief description of the subsidies and benefits in the current House variation of the Biden American Families Plan, the social welfare component of the Build Back Better Plan:

“Sunset Provisions: Budget Gimmickry?”

If means testing doesn’t take up all of our time, another, related, subject I think would be fruitful is how we feel about Congress’ budget “rules,” and their ten-year horizon. Is such a horizon relevant? If so, is it equally relevant for “one-shot” programs as distinct from those that are expected (hoped) to continue forever?

Steve Rattner and I often disagree on policies, but this is an area in which we have very similar views–hence the suggestion that we discuss budget gimmicks and whether they’re a sensible way to run the government. Here’s a recent op-ed he wrote for the New York Times on the subject.

I hope to see you Monday!

For Monday: The Texas Abortion Law

On Monday, October 4, we’ll discuss the recently adopted Texas Abortion law. Among the potential lines of discussion I can forsee are:

  • What is in the law itself?
  • Why was the law constructed the way it was (relying, for example, on private citizens to enforce the law)? Do we think that “end run” will work legally?
  • What about the law’s spin-off effect of a renewed focus on the Supreme Court’s “shadow docket?” The Supremes’ decision not to block the law on an emergency basis has certainly ignited some discussion.
  • What do we think the Texas legislature was trying to accomplish by passing the law in the first place? Given the popularity of “abortion rights” around the country, these Texans are certainly diving into an area full of risks–legal, economic, etc.
  • I’m sure there will be much more to discuss.


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