Biden's Agenda

December 16, 2020  |  


Joe Biden ran and won on the boldest public investment agenda of any major-party presidential nominee in modern history. His victory represents a mandate to invest in long-neglected public services to better support working families and help build an economy that works for all of us, not just those at the top. These critical investments—in healthcare, childcare, public education, housing, green infrastructure and more—have gone underfunded for far too long in part because the wealthy and corporations do not pay their fair share of taxes. Biden would raise $3.3 trillion to help pay for his investments by increasing taxes on the rich and corporations, while not levying new direct taxes on anyone making less than $400,000 a year.  

ATF has compiled several estimates for the cost of Biden’s investment agenda over 10 years (not including pandemic relief measures). They range from $6.5 trillion by the Biden campaign (an incomplete estimate), to $8 trillion by Moody’s Analytics to about $11 trillion by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (midpoint estimate)

Below are rough estimates of the investments that have been proposed by Joe Biden:

  • Infrastructure & Clean Energy: $2 trillion to $3 trillion. Invest in green infrastructure and jobs by repairing and modernizing America’s transportation, energy, water and broadband systems and achieving a 100% clean energy economy by 2050.
  • Healthcare: $2.75 trillion in spending; $750 billion in savings and new revenue. Improve the Affordable Care Act; lower Medicare eligibility to age 60; boost rural-health and mental-health funding; and tackle the opioid crisis. Reduce costs by letting Medicare negotiate drug prices and limiting some drug price increases and ending surprise medical billing. Raise revenue through increased income- and payroll-tax receipts. 
  • Education & Childcare: $1.9 trillion to $2.7 trillion. Increase funding for K-12 schools with a focus on services for low-income students and those with disabilities; expand access to affordable childcare and provide free preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds. Make public colleges and universities tuition-free for all families with incomes below $125,000; offer up to two years of community college or high-quality training tuition-free to all students; double the maximum value of Pell grants.
  • Social Security & Supplemental Security Income (SSI): $1.1 trillion. Expand Social Security benefits for low-income seniors, surviving spouses, and the disabled; extend the solvency of the Social Security trust fund; eliminate certain Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) waiting periods to collect benefits and be eligible for Medicare; and expand Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits to increase income support to low-income seniors and people with disabilities. 
  • Housing: $640 billion. Help families buy a first home and build wealth by creating a new refundable tax credit of up to $15,000; establish a $100 billion fund to construct and upgrade affordable housing; provide Section 8 housing vouchers to every eligible family; create a new renter’s tax credit to reduce rent and utilities to 30% of income for low-income families; and fund a range of services to help end homelessness.
  • Made in America Investments & Jobs: $700 billion. Invest $400 billion in “Buy American” procurement of U.S. products, materials and services focused on clean energy and infrastructure. Invest $300 billion in U.S. research and development breakthrough technologies— health, science, 5G, artificial intelligence, clean energy and more. 
  • Paid Family & Medical Leave: $550 billion to $570 billion. Guarantee workers 12 weeks of annual leave at two-thirds of normal pay to attend to their own or a family member’s illness, care for a new child, or deal with the disruption of military deployment. 
  • Expand Working Family, Retirement & Energy Tax Credits: $462 Billion. Temporarily increase for two years the Child Tax Credit and make it fully refundable; replace deductibility of IRAs and pension plans with a 26% refundable tax credit; and reinstate tax credits for residential energy efficiency and electric vehicles; and other items.
  • Business Tax Credits: $318 billion. Create a 10% “Made in America” tax credit to encourage domestic manufacturing; make permanent and expand the New Markets Tax Credit that offers a credit of up to 40% for equity investment in small businesses in low- and moderate-income areas; improve various renewable-energy tax credits and deductions; and expand the low-income housing tax credit.

Note about the cost of investments: The Biden campaign rolled out its investment agenda in stages, with some newer plans seeming to overlap or encompass earlier proposals, and it did not consistently announce the estimated cost of its programs. These factors introduce uncertainty into the analyses. When the campaign did provide a program price tag, that is generally the estimate used unless it clearly would not pay for the proposed investments or when it was unclear whether newer proposals supplanted or supplemented earlier plans. In those cases, and when no estimate was provided by the campaign, we relied on estimates by outside analysts, primarily the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB’s midpoint estimate of three provided) and Moody’s Analytics.