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September 3, 2021
Agree to Disagree: Should Congress Spend Trillions to "Build Back Better"?

Biden wants to spend big. The administration is calling for some $4.5 trillion in increased government spending and tax credits over the next decade. The “Build Back Better" agenda includes hefty investments in infrastructure and unprecedented spending on the labor force, not to mention funding a host of Democratic policy priorities from child and elder care to paid family and medical leave. Its champions see an unjust and unstable economy in need of major government intervention. They argue that bold investments are necessary to combat economic inequality, build the next generation of American business, and help the nation regain its economic footing in the post-pandemic world. But opponents are sounding the alarm: Trillions in new spending could balloon the national deficit and drive inflation. Further, they say, Biden’s swath of new big government social programs would only create more bureaucracy, drive up prices on everything from education to childcare, undermine business, and ultimately harm American consumers and workers. As Washington takes up this historic plan, we ask: Should Congress spend trillions to “Build Back Better”?

Arguing “YES” is Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics and a frequent public commentator and policy advisor on the global economy and public policy.

Arguing “NO” is Michael Strain, director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute where his research focuses on economic policy, financial markets, and tax and budget policy.

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About The Debaters
An image of Mark Zandi
Mark Zandi − Chief Economist of Moody's Analytics
As Chief Economist of Moody's Analytics, Mark Zandi directs the company's research and consulting activities.... read bio
An image of Michael Strain
Michael Strain − Director of Economic Policy Studies, American Enterprise Institute
Michael R. Strain is a senior fellow, the Director of Economic Policy Studies, and the Arthur F. Burns Scholar in... read bio