Will Biden’s “Build Back Better” Agenda Actually Build a Better Future for Gen Z?


Adam Messinger, Contributor

As lawmakers continue to push President Biden’s infrastructure bill and $3.5 trillion social spending plan through Congress, many details of Biden’s agenda remain up in the air. While the $3.5 trillion budget resolution has already made it through the House, Democratic Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona currently stand in the way of the bill’s passage in the Senate. Divisions within the Democratic Party mean that the price of the plan is likely to fall by a substantial amount to get moderates Manchin and Sinema on board. Despite the uncertainty surrounding the immense spending plan, many key provisions of the standing “Build Back Better” agenda would directly affect Generation Z–if passed.

One of the key issues concerning Gen Z (the generation broadly defined as individuals born between 1997 and 2012) is climate change. In fact, 69% of Gen Zers report feelings of anxiety about the future after viewing online content discussing climate change. The $3.5 trillion federal overhaul would include some of the most aggressive environmental policies ever enacted in the United States, with more than $600 billion allocated to combat climate change and lower emissions. Within Biden’s agenda is a nationwide clean-electricity program that will eliminate fossil fuel emissions from power plants by the year 2035. Furthermore, the bill also calls for the installation of nearly 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations in addition to the creation of a Civilian Climate Corps to deploy workers on environmentally friendly public works projects. 

In addition to the bill’s focus on the environment, many of its most notable programs relate directly to higher education, impacting the millions of Gen Zers currently enrolled and planning to enroll in college. As the cost of attendance at post-secondary institutions continues to rise to unprecedented levels each year, Biden’s agenda plans on making two years of community college completely free for all Americans. This educational investment would ultimately raise the earnings of low-wage high school graduates by around $6,000 annually. The plan also focuses on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, investing billions of dollars in tuition assistance for low- and middle-income students. 

Post-graduation, as Gen Z continues to transition into the workforce, the expansion of paid family and medical leave will play a key role in the future of work-life balance. Biden’s proposal introduces a mandatory 12 weeks that all workers (full-time, part-time, self-employed, gig workers, etc.) would receive guaranteed federal income in the event of raising a newborn child or dealing with a medical emergency. If included in the final spending proposal, the benefits would begin in 2023 and work on a sliding scale depending on income. This initiative would be one of the largest expansions to the American social safety net since the New Deal of the 1930s. 

While Biden’s legislative agenda still faces an uphill battle on Capitol Hill, if passed, it will yield transformative results for the United States of America. Notable among these results are those that directly relate to the lives and concerns of Generation Z. From the educational initiatives to climate plans, the spending blueprint will reshape America as a global powerhouse in the 21st century. The only question that remains is whether or not Democrats, with unilateral control over the executive and legislative branches, can overcome their differences to meet the widely popular requests of the American people. 

Image Credit: Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash