It's a Trap! Democrats $3.5 Trillion Messaging Failure

Message to the Impact, Not the Price Tag

Sam Chavez
Sam Chavez

Table of Contents

Democrats love talking numbers.

They talked about their $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan, their $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, and now their $3.5 trillion Build Back Better reconciliation bill.

But what do these numbers have to do with me?

California just spent $276 million on a wasteful, failed (praise be!) attempt by the GOP to recall a popular governor.

What does $276 million number mean to me? Itโ€™s just a number. But when you think about what that number can do, it changes things. $276 million could have gone to wildfire prevention and forest management that would mean my skies are cleaner.

And that is exactly the self-own that Democrats are currently making with a bill that would provide real support for families struggling during a period of deep inequality and actual solutions to combating the climate crisis.

Getting the Facts Straight

So rather than opining about the cost, how about Democrats start telling the story of how the money will benefit our country and be clear about the facts.

  1. The bill would cost $3.5 trillion OVER 10 YEARS

  2. The bill pays for itself

    1. And the ultra-wealthy and corporations will foot the bill with tax increases, closing off loopholes, and even some tax reductions on small businesses and individuals

    2. If you make less than $400,000 a year, youโ€™re safe from these taxes

    3. Oh, did I mention, itโ€™s really popular to tax the rich (The Met Gala agrees)?

    4. (If youโ€™re looking for more on how increasing corporate and wealth taxes would have a positive impact, check out our post from April)

  3. It will cost 14x more if we donโ€™t pass this bil

    1. Experts now say that it costs $5 trillion dollars every year that we do not act on climate

  4. It would reduce inequality in the US

Humanizing $3.5 Trillion

By talking about the cost of a historic and long-needed investment in our society, Democrats are walking right into a failed bill (itโ€™s a trap!). Republicans and the media are jumping at the chance to complain about the high cost, but theyโ€™re missing the context.

โ€œDemocrats need to stop selling the recipe and start selling the brownieโ€ - Anat Shenker-Osorio

Democratic messaging expert, Anat Shenker-Osorio, has been telling Democrats for years to talk about the brownie. This clever phrase simply means that Democrats like talking about the process, and the budgets, and the nitty-gritty negotiating, but we donโ€™t tell the story of how our policies would provide material benefits to Americans or our country.

Democrats want to be philosophers when we should be storytellers.

Especially in this case, the brownie would be oh so delicious to all Americans.

Storytelling $3.5 Trillion

So what does $3.5 trillion over 10 years really get us?

The two core pieces of the bill are meant to bring our society into the 21st century through greater federal support of families and children, putting us on par with the rest of the world, and an urgently needed response to the climate crisis.

Supporting Families

The decline in birth rates has been decried on the Right, but the reality is that the mental and physical cost of affording a family has grown out of control and our society does not support those that want both a family and a career. Among other things, the bill includes:

  • The first-ever Federal paid and medical leave benefits. Guaranteeing 12 weeks of paternal leave.
  • Universal Pre-K program to help working families (which helps the economy & jobs).
  • Enhanced child care to ensure low & middle-income families donโ€™t pay more than 7% of their salary on child care.
  • Adds dental, vision, and hearing benefits to Medicare. (how is this not a thing already?)
  • Lower the cost of drug prescriptions. (Have you checked the price of insulin lately?)
  • Fund the IRS so they can chase wealthy tax cheats and gain more in tax revenue

Climate Mitigation

The Reconciliation bill would put climate mitigation efforts into a much-needed path. Hereโ€™s just a few things the bill would do for climate:

  • Reduce economy-wide carbon emissions by 50% by 2030.
  • Make 80% of US power grid generated from emissions-free sources before 2030.
  • Consumer rebates for home electrification and weatherization.
  • Provide clean energy, manufacturing, and transportation tax incentives and grants.
  • Electrifying the federal vehicle fleet and buildings.
  • Agricultural conservation, drought, and forestry programs.

The question is can the government invest in climate now to avoid the cost of extreme climate?

For me and future generations, the cost of the brownie is worth it. If only moderate Democrats in Washington saw the nutritional value of the brownie too.

About the roots of change agency โ€” Navigating heart-first activism & storytelling. We explore the ๐ŸŒฑ roots of our world to support organizations and activists ๐Ÿฅต avoid burnout and ๐Ÿ“š tell empathetic stories that cultivate connections that ๐ŸŒ empower โœŠ๐Ÿฝ social change.
๐ŸŒ The Climate Crisis๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘งโ€๐Ÿ‘ฆ for activists & heart-first humans ๐ŸŒฑ๐Ÿ—ผ๐Ÿ—ž: Newsletter๐Ÿ—ณ Democracy๐Ÿ“š messaging / storytelling

Sam Chavez

Sam is a writer, strategist, and curious human. She founded the roots of change agency in 2020. Sam is a queer, white, LatinX activist whoโ€™s passionate about a livable planet & equitable societies.


Navigating heart-first activism & storytelling. We explore the ๐ŸŒฑ roots of our world to support communicators, organizations, and activists ๐Ÿฅต to avoid burnout and ๐Ÿ“š tell empathetic stories that cultivate connections that ๐ŸŒ empower โœŠ๐Ÿฝ social change.

Learn more about the Roots of Change Agency.