'Your Legacy Is… What You Deliver': Climate Movement Says Biden Budget Not Bold Enough

As obstruction by Senate Republicans bolstered calls for killing the filibuster on Friday, the White House unveiled President Joe Biden’s $6 trillion proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2022—and progressives responded with fresh demands that Democrats advance a bold infrastructure package and other key priorities by whatever means necessary.

“Biden’s playbook thus far has been to present ‘historic’ plans to gain media praise and support from the left and the people who elected him—but then has dropped the ball and fallen short on those promises.”
—Ellen Sciales, Sunrise Movement

“The power of young people, working people, and activists across the country has shifted the political terrain to make a budget proposal of this size possible, but our movement will not stop agitating until this is solidified and there are tangible investments flowing into our communities,” said Ellen Sciales, press secretary of the youth-led Sunrise Movement, in a statement.

Sciales explained that “Biden’s playbook thus far has been to present ‘historic’ plans to gain media praise and support from the left and the people who elected him—but then has dropped the ball and fallen short on those promises. Biden, your legacy is not what you propose, but what you deliver. And we see right through this strategy.”

“We’ve seen it used with Biden’s supposed commitment to the $15 minimum wage fight—a battle quickly forfeited to the Senate parliamentarian, with his unacted upon campaign promises on reforming immigration and ending the detention of migrant families, and most recently with the concessions he’s offered to Republicans,” she added, referencing his infrastructure plans. “This might be a political show for Biden, but for us it’s a fight for our lives and for the communities we love and care about.”

Biden’s first budget incorporates his two-pronged proposal on physical and human infrastructure—the American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan—as well as increases in discretionary spending. CNBC reports that “it requests an increase of 41% for the Department of Education over last year, plus 23% more for the Department of Health and Human Services, and 22% more for the Environmental Protection Agency.”

“Now is the time to build the foundation that we’ve laid—to make bold investments in our families, in our communities, in our nation. We know from history that these kinds of investments raise both the floor and the ceiling of the economy for everybody,” Biden said Thursday during a speech in Cleveland.

“The pandemic exposed just how badly we need to invest in the foundation of this country and the working people of this country,” Biden added, touting his families and job plans as “the generational investments we need today to succeed for tomorrow.”

The political future of those plans, however, is uncertain, given that talks with congressional Republicans have so far proven fruitless—and progressive advocacy organizations are urging Biden and Democratic lawmakers to deliver on the ambitions promises that gave the party control of both Congress and the White House.

“That means he must increase the federal budget even further, allocating at least $1 trillion per year to stopping climate change, and must pass a bold infrastructure package that includes a Civilian Climate Corps to create at least 1.5 million new jobs and train a new workforce for careers in the clean economy,” said Sciales.

Sunrise is a major backer of key progressive legislation like the Green New Deal Resolution and the THRIVE Act, and is among the groups that have criticized Biden for not yet delivering on his campaign promises, particularly in terms of tackling the climate emergency.

“We cannot miss this moment,” Sciales declared. “The only way Democrats will continue to see the youth mobilization we saw in 2020 is if Biden actually delivers for our generation in a way we can see and feel.”

Joseph Geevarghese, executive director of Our Revolution, delivered a similar warning.