61 economists including a Nobel winner call on Congress to pass Biden's social spending framework

61 economists including a Nobel winner call on Congress to pass Biden's social spending framework
Joseph Stiglitz on the Festival della Tecnologia on November 07, 2019 in Turin, Italy Stefano Guidi/Getty Images for Polito di Torino
  • A group of 61 economists including Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz urged Congress on Thursday to pass Biden's $1.75 trillion plan.
  • The package would "counteract decades of underinvestment," the group said in a letter organized by Invest in America Action.

The $1.75 trillion Build Back Better plan can "counteract decades of underinvestment" and supercharge the pandemic recovery, a group of 61 economists said in a Thursday letter. Signatories include Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz.

President Joe Biden rolled out the latest framework for his social-spending plan Thursday morning, pushing Democrats to approve the package ahead of an October 31 deadline. Pushback from centrist Democrats forced Biden to halve the measure's initial price tag over weeks of negotiation, with many progressive priorities left on the chopping block. One notable omission is paid family and medical leave.

Yet the framework - which is set to be fully paid for by new taxes - still includes programs that would massively bulk up the country's social safety net. Those include universal preschool, affordable childcare, greater insurance access, a Medicare expansion to cover hearing aids, and a lengthened child tax credit. The framework's largest investment comes in the form of combating the climate crisis, with $550 billion allocated toward a suite of initiatives that range from creating a Civilian Climate Corps to rebates for families adopting clean-energy infrastructure.

Provisions left in the bill would serve as "long-neglected key economic investments," the economists said in the letter organized by advocacy group Invest in America Action. By spending billions of dollars on child care, clean energy, health care, and education, Congress can "help position the US to meet the enormous challenges of the 21st century, including a changing economy and a growing climate crisis," they added.

The plan could also serve as a boon for a slowing recovery. Data out Thursday showed the US economy growing at an annualized rate of just 2% in the third quarter. The pace fell below economists' expectations and marked the slowest rate of growth since the start of the health crisis.


The funds proposed in Biden's plan would be distributed over 10 years, meaning it wouldn't serve as a fast-acting stimulus bill. Yet the package would create millions of jobs and "lower costs on essential expenses for American families," the economists said.

The letter comes as nearly 8 million Americans remain unemployed and inflation sits at decade highs. For two months, the number of jobs the country added has fallen short of expectations, dragging recovery down alongside the low payrolls. Price growth has also stayed uncomfortably high and hammered Americans' wallets as the recovery pushes forward.

Currently, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is barreling forward with a vote on the $550 billion infrastructure bill. Progressives have said for months that they will not move forward with the bipartisan bill if it's not accompanied by the larger social spending plan. Now, Pelosi is gambling yet again on a vote for that legislation, as the nearly 2,000 page-long social spending bill's text is released.

While progressives mull over the proposed framework - and perhaps tweak it further - it has economists' stamp of approval.