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June 2, 2021

Daily News Lesson: Here’s what’s in Biden’s proposed budget plan and what’s not

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Directions: Read the summary, watch the video and answer the discussion questions. For a transcript of the video, click here

Summary: President Joe Biden’s first budget proposal, which was released Friday, will look to transform the economy and education and confront climate change. It would also be historic in its price tag if passed: $6 trillion — the highest sustained federal spending since World War II. You can read the full budget proposal here, or the fact sheet summary of priorities below in this lesson.

  • The president’s budget request is part of a formal process in which the president’s office proposes spending for the year at the start of each fiscal year. However, it is Congress that ultimately sets federal spending through legislation.
  • Biden’s budget includes $6 trillion in spending for fiscal year 2022, with greater priority than past budgets on education, housing, public health and climate change.
  • The budget represents Biden’s plan to spend to both lift the U.S. out of economic crisis following the COVID-19 pandemic and use that money to build critical infrastructure for the future.

Discussion:

Warm up questions: 

  1. Who is the President’s budget presented to? Who actually controls spending priorities?
  2. What are some of the priorities of this budget?
  3. Where and When will the budget proposal be considered?
  4. Why does the Biden administration want to increase the federal budget?
  5. How does a federal budget ultimately get approved and set?

Focus questions:

  1. Do you think it’s a good idea to increase the budget during or after economic crises like the one caused by COVID? Why or why not?
  2. If you could set the federal budget, what would be some of your priorities for spending?

Media literacy:

  1. Who else’s opinion might you want to hear about spending priorities for the federal government?
  2. Popular progressive YouTube host Kyle Kulinski argued that Biden’s budget does not get at the heart of what progressives really want, including Medicare for All (or a public option which he campaigned on), a $15 minimum wage, lower prescription drug prices, legalization of marijuana, freeing non-violent drug offenders and elimination of student loan debt relief.
    • Start at 7m:26 of the video (7 minutes until the end): “If you’re pushing for something knowing you’re not going to get it, I’m not going to give you credit for that,” Kulinski said, “You have to want it, push for it, and come up with a strategy to actually get it implemented.” Do you see Biden as the “new Bernie” or another FDR? Or do you agree with Kulinski’s argument that the news media is creating a more progressive portrait of Biden?  

Additional resources:

  • Take a look at this fact sheet of the budget’s priorities. What seems important to emphasize here to you? What priorities do you think are missed?
  • Want to compare past budgets to see the ways priorities change over time and across administrations? Check out this resource, which covers budgets going back to 1996.

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