July 14, 2021

Senate Democrats yesterday reached agreement on pursuing a $3.5 trillion reconciliation package that would expand Medicare benefits, boost federal safety net programs and combat climate change. Via the Washington Post:

The wide array of planned health, education and social programs would represent a historic burst of federal spending if lawmakers ultimately adopt it, as Democrats aim to seize on their slim but powerful majorities in Washington to expand the footprint of government and catalyze major changes in the economy.

Party leaders plan to fashion their agenda using a process known as reconciliation, a move that only requires them to stick together to turn their vision into law. It does not require the traditional 60 votes to advance. To help rally support and keep the caucus together, Biden plans to visit with congressional Democrats on Wednesday.

Democrats see the still-forming package as a critical companion piece to the roughly $1 trillion infrastructure deal that lawmakers from both parties are assembling to improve the nation’s roads, bridges, pipes, ports and Internet connections. Biden has sought both tranches of funding as part of jobs- and families-focused plans he released earlier this spring that totaled roughly $6 trillion.

The reconciliation bill is strictly the financing arm for the proposals. Once it's passed, negotiations begin on exactly how it's divvied up. But Medicare expansion is one of Joe Biden's must haves, and here's what we can expect if they're successful:

Medicare age lowered to 60. This would have a huge economic impact, since so many people are only working to hold onto their employer-provided insurance. That means good jobs will open up for younger workers.

Medicare benefits would expand. For the first time, dental, vision, and hearing benefits would be included.

As always, let your senators know you're enthusiastically behind this.

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