“People are fed up with this,” said Senator Rick Scott of Florida, who heads the campaign arm for Senate Republicans leading into the 2022 elections.
Those attacks do not seem to carry the same sway that they did during Mr. Obama’s tenure, when the White House proposed a much smaller economic stimulus package than many economists thought was warranted given the huge erosion in household wealth after the financial crisis. Mr. Obama did raise taxes on high earners, including to help fund the Affordable Care Act, but not at a scale close to what Mr. Biden is proposing.
Mr. Biden might have Mr. Trump to thank for part of that shift. The pandemic aid bills he signed last year, with bipartisan support in Congress, might have helped reset the public’s views of Washington’s spending limits; “trillion” was a red line of sorts under Mr. Obama, but no longer.
Mr. Trump also pushed Congress to approve direct checks, an effort Mr. Biden continued, and began the Operation Warp Speed vaccine program that helped hasten the deployment of the most significant driver of economic activity this year: vaccinated Americans. As the economy reopens and people return to work, economic optimism is rising, though Republicans nationwide remain more pessimistic and are far more likely to oppose Mr. Biden’s plans.
In Washington, the president does not need Republican support to push through his agenda. He needs only his party to hold together in the House and the Senate, where Democrats enjoy majorities by thin margins, and move as much spending and tax policy as possible through the process known as budget reconciliation. The maneuver bypasses Senate filibusters and allows legislation, like Mr. Biden’s relief bill this year, to pass with only majority-party votes.
That process will give large sway to moderate Democrats like Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, but so far that group has not flinched at the scale of Mr. Biden’s ambitions. Mr. Manchin has said he will support $4 trillion in infrastructure spending.
It is unclear whether Mr. Biden can hold Mr. Manchin and others on his people-focused spending, like the education and child care efforts unveiled on Wednesday. His administration is trying to make the case on productivity grounds, casting the plan as investing in an inclusive economy that would help millions of Americans gain the skills and the work flexibility they need to build middle-class lifestyles.