At the heart of the party's decision to embrace a far slimmer spending package than they first outlined this summer is a bet by top Democrats that even scaled-back versions of their vision will be successful enough to get extended and expanded later on. "History has shown,” Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said, “that if you get important reforms that really deliver for communities — like holding down prescription drug costs, clean energy, billionaires paying their fair share of taxes — people look at that and they say: ‘I like that! You can keep building on it.’" The White House is aiming to reach at least a framework agreement with Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) before the end of the month. But even if a deal is locked in this week, it likely will take weeks to finalize the package. Here's where negotiations stand on the major policy points: Child tax credit — What they wanted: Democrats dreamed of continuing the expanded credit for four years, well beyond the midterms and through Biden’s first term. They also aimed to keep the boosted credit going for all families making more than $110,000, providing a maximum credit of up to $3,600 per child. — Where they’re headed: Now the White House is proposing a one-year extension to reduce the initial $450 billion price tag. Even though Manchin wants to impose work requirements and ensure the extra credit goes only to families making $60,000 or less, Biden publicly rejected that idea last week. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said voters will pressure lawmakers in both parties to extend the credit further. “Imagine you’re a Republican politician running for office next year, and a voter from Lima, Ohio, comes up and says, ‘That child tax credit has really changed my life and made my life a lot better,’” Brown said. “What are you going to do? Are you going to cancel? I think that speaks for itself.” Free community college — What they wanted: Biden campaigned on a promise of covering two years of community college to “keep up with the changing nature of work.” That decadelong, $109 billion plan to nix tuition at the nation’s community colleges was at first one of the White House's loudest-trumpeted ideas for the social spending plan, particularly since the first lady is a community college professor. — Where they’re headed: Biden publicly acknowledged last week that the provision is now dead in this package. The push for free community college ran into opposition from key senators, including Manchin and Sinema, according to Democratic aides. Other sectors of higher education, like four-year universities, also disliked the proposal and urged the White House to focus instead on other education investments, such as increasing Pell grants to help students attend all types of colleges and universities. Medicare expansion — What they wanted: Democrats endeavored to cover dental, vision and hearing care for tens of millions of older Americans enrolled in Medicare, at a cost of about $350 billion over a decade. Progressives, led by Senate Budget Chair Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), originally pushed to also lower the age of Medicare eligibility to 60 or 55 years of age, from the country’s current 65-years start. But they settled for the benefits expansion, arguing that it is still a leap forward on the eventual path to Medicare for All. — Where they’re headed: Biden said last week that including all three new Medicare benefits would be a “reach,” citing opposition from Manchin and Sinema. Speaker Nancy Pelosi also noted on CNN over the weekend that "dental is very expensive" and that Medicare expansion is "part of the negotiation." Democrats were already aiming to scale back the dental benefits, the most expensive of the three types of coverage, by turning them into $800 annual vouchers for dental work. Supporters argue that this would both slash the cost and get aid to seniors sooner, given that dental benefits were set to begin in 2028 under House Democrats’ proposal. Paid leave — What they wanted: Party leaders aimed for 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave each year for every U.S. worker, even the self-employed or gig workers. The White House wanted to build up to that benefit over more than a decade, and House Democrats crafted a leave plan that would cost almost $500 billion. — Where they’re headed: If the paid leave plan is included at all, it is sure to be a shorter, narrower program than initially envisioned. The White House has floated a four-week proposal targeted toward lower-income workers that would expire after three to four years. The price tag would cost about $100 billion. On Sunday, Pelosi was asked on CNN’s State of the Union whether the paid leave policies would be in the final package. “That’s our hope," the speaker said. "That’s what we’re fighting for.” Tax hikes — What they wanted: Democrats planned to raise almost $600 billion to help pay for their social spending plan by hiking taxes on corporations . . . read the full article here.