McDaniel Undergraduates Favor Biden’s $1.75 Trillion Spending Bill

Along with the recently signed bipartisan infrastructure bill (which this survey DID NOT cover), the Senate is in the midst of passing the Build Back Better Act, a reconciliation bill along partisan lines. The House of Representatives passed their version of the bill on Nov. 19 by a vote of 220-212. In a nutshell, reconciliation enables a fiscal bill to be passed with a simple majority; it’s a way around the filibuster. Congress can pass only three reconciliation bills per year, the COVID stimulus package being the first. 

The Build Back Better Act plans on tackling climate change and expanding the social safety net in hopes of reducing economic inequality. Democratic lawmakers say this is the largest social spending package since the New Deal and Great Society. The bill’s original price tag was $3.5 trillion in a decade until it was cut in half in hopes of getting conservative-leaning democratic senators Sinema (AZ) and Manchin (WV) on board. Democrats only have 50 seats in the Senate, meaning the bill cannot pass without their support. 

The McDaniel Free Press conducted a survey available to all undergraduate students asking them how they viewed Build Back Better in general and its provisions. Among the respondents, 66.7 percent are in support of the bill, 16.6 percent are opposed, and 16.7 percent are unsure. To no surprise, the spending bill’s support is split among party lines. 85 percent of Democrats support the bill, as 66 percent of Republicans oppose. 

Those in favor of the president’s spending bill argue it will help stimulate the economy and improve the living conditions of working families. Those in opposition argue that despite having good intentions, the bill is too expensive and will lead to large tax increases. 

Nov. 15-22, 2021 survey of 12 undergraduate students 

Nov. 15-22, 2021 survey of 12 undergraduate students 

Respondents were asked about specific proposals in the bill. Despite the bill’s overall support being 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, many specific provisions see wide-scale support even among those who lean conservative. For instance, despite only 58 percent of respondents being Democrats, support for clean energy and climate investments is 83.4 percent. The 1 percent surcharge on stock buybacks was the only unpopular provision mentioned in this survey.

Nov. 15-22, 2021 survey of 12 undergraduate students 

As the spending bill went from $3.5 trillion to $1.75 trillion, major provisions of the Democratic plan had to be scaled back. Free community college, lowering prescription drug prices, and taxing billionaires are only a few of the provisions that Biden campaigned on but were ultimately removed during negotiations for the sake of getting Manchin’s and Sinema’s votes. Most respondents want free community college and lowering drug prices to be put back in, at 75 percent and 58.3 percent, respectively.

Supporters stated that Americans should not be financially punished for seeking higher education. They also (accurately) said that too many Americans simply cannot afford their prescriptions. One undergraduate highlighted the benefits for college students with disabilities if drug prices were lowered. 

Nov. 15-22, 2021 survey of 12 undergraduate students 

Despite being democrats, Senators Sinema and Manchin have stopped this bill in its tracks. According to a Data for Progress poll, 82 percent of Democrats said the government needs to do more to lower prescription drug prices. This proposal, as mentioned earlier, was previously in the bill until Senator Sinema vehemently fought to take it out. Sinema and Manchin have received fierce backlash and protests from democrats across the country for obstructing the bill. In late October, for instance, activists peacefully disrupted a wedding that Sinema was a guest of. 

Democrats were asked in the survey if they believe the two conservative-leaning Democrats should be primaried during their next elections. The results were mixed. The results for “yes,” “no,” and  “maybe” were all 33.3 percent.  

Nov. 15-22, 2021 survey of 6 undergraduate students 

Critics argue that the bill will increase the national debt, currently $28.9 trillion. The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, the stimulus package signed into law earlier this March; the recently signed $1.2 trillion infrastructure; the $1.75 trillion reconciliation bill; and the $5 trillion annual budget are all more expensive than the Revolutionary War, Civil War, WWI & II, and the interstate highway combined–according to The Hill.  Interestingly, even though most respondents support the Build Back Better Act and most of its provisions, 75 percent are either somewhat or very concerned about America’s debt. 

Nov. 15-22, 2021 survey of 12 undergraduate students