President Joe Biden signed an Executive Order to help create more resilient and secure supply chains for critical and essential goods.
In recent years, American households, workers, and companies have increasingly felt the strain of shortages of essential products—from medicine to food to computer chips. Last year’s shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) for front-line healthcare workers at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic were unacceptable. Recent shortages of automotive semiconductor chips have forced slowdowns at car manufacturing plants, highlighting how shortages can hurt U.S. workers.
While we cannot predict what crisis will hit us, we should have the capacity to respond quickly in the face of challenges. The United States must ensure that production shortages, trade disruptions, natural disasters and potential actions by foreign competitors and adversaries never leave the United States vulnerable again. Today’s action delivers on the President’s campaign commitment to direct his Administration to comprehensively address supply chain risks. The task of making our supply chains more secure can also be a source of well paid jobs for communities across our country, including in communities of color, and steps will be taken to ensure that the benefits of this work flow to all Americans.
The Executive Order launches a comprehensive review of U.S. supply chains and directs federal Departments and Agencies to identify ways to secure U.S. supply chains against a wide range of risks and vulnerabilities. Building resilient supply chains will protect the United States from facing shortages of critical products. It will also facilitate needed investments to maintain America’s competitive edge, and strengthen U.S. national security.
Here are President Biden’s remarks before the signing of the executive order:
The Vice President and I had a very productive meeting with a bipartisan group of senators and House members to address an issue of both concern to our economic security, as well as our national security: the resilience and reliability of our critical supply chains.
This is a critical area where Republicans and Democrats agreed it was one of the best meetings — it’s the best meeting I think we’ve had so far, although we’ve only been here about five weeks. But it was like the old days — people actually are on the same page.
Good, bipartisan work has already been done. The leaders of this operation in the House and Senate already have done great work, and I want to thank them for their leadership.
We’re here to build on that. And the bottom line is simple: The American people should never face shortages in the goods and services they rely on, whether that’s their car or their prescription medicines or the food at the local grocery store.
And remember, the shortages in PPE during this pandemic –that meant we didn’t have the masks; we didn’t have gowns or gloves to protect our frontline health workers.
We heard horror stories of doctors and nurses wearing trash bags over their gown — over their dress in order to — so they wouldn’t be in trouble, because they had no gowns. And they were rewashing and reusing their masks over and over again in the OR.
That should never have never happened. And this will never happen again in the United States, period. We shouldn’t have to rely on a foreign country — especially one that doesn’t share our interests or our values — in order to protect and provide our people during a national emergency.
That’s why one of the first executive orders I signed, as some may remember, was to ensure that we’re manufacturing more protective equipment for healthcare workers here at home.
And today, I’m shortly going to be signing another executive order that’ll help address the vulnerabilities in our supply chains across additional critical sectors of our economy so that the American people are prepared to withstand any crisis and rely on ourselves.
This is about making sure the United States can meet every challenge we face in this new era — pandemics, but also in defense, cybersecurity, climate change, and so much more. And the best way to do that is by protecting and sharpening America’s competitive edge by investing here at home. As I’ve said from the beginning, while I was running: We’re going to invest in America. We’re going to invest in American workers. And then we can be in a much better position to even compete beyond what we’re doing now.
Resilient, diverse, and secure supply chains are going to help revitalize our domestic manufacturing capacity and create good-paying jobs, not $15 an hour — which is what we need to do someday. And sooner is better, in my view. But jobs that are at the prevailing wage.
We’re going to spare new — spur new opportunities for small businesses, communities of color, and economically distressed areas. And I will drive new investment in research and innovation and our workforce, investing in training and university partnerships that are going to lead to new technologies and new solutions.
And all this won’t just strengthen our domestic capacity, it will help unleash new markets around the world and grow opportunities for American businesses to export their goods that we’re going to be making.
These are the kinds of commonsense solutions that all Americans can get behind — workers and corporate leaders, Republicans and Democrats. It’s about resilience, identifying possible points of vulnerabilities in our supply chains, and making sure we have the backup alternatives or workarounds in place.
Remember that old proverb: “For want of a nail, the shoe was lost. For want of a shoe, the horse was lost.” And it goes on and on until the kingdom was lost, all for the want of a horseshoe nail. Even small failures at one point in the supply chain can cause outside impacts further up the chain.
Recently, we’ve seen how a shortage of computer chips — computer chips like the one I have here — you can hardly see it I imagine; it’s called a “semiconductor” — has caused delays in production of automobiles that has resulted in reduced hours for American workers. A 21st century horseshoe nail.
This semiconductor is smaller than a postage stamp, but it has more than 8 billion transistors — 8 billion transistors, 10,000 times thinner than a single human hair in this one chip. These chips are a wonder of innovation and design that powers so much of our country, enables so much of our modern lives to go on — not just our cars, but our smartphones, televisions, radios, medical diagnostic equipment, and so much more.
We need to make sure these supply chains are secure and reliable. I’m directing senior officials in my administration to work with industrial leaders to identify solutions to this semiconductor shortfall and work very hard with the House and Senate. They’ve authorized the bill, but they need (inaudible) $37 billion, short term, to make sure we have this capacity. We’ll push for that as well. But we all recognize that the particular problem won’t be solved immediately.
In the meantime, we’re reaching out to our allies, semiconductor companies, and others in the supply chain to ramp up production to help us resolve the bottlenecks we face now. We need help to stop — we need to stop playing catch up after the supply-chain crisis hit. We need to prevent the supply chain crisis from hitting in the first place.
And in some cases, building resilience will mean increasing our production of certain types of elements here at home. In others, it’ll mean working more closely with our trusted friends and partners, nations that share our values, so that our supply chains can’t be used against us as leverage.
It will mean identifying and building surge capacity that can quickly be turned into and ramped up production in times of emergency. And it will mean investing in research and development, like we did in the ’60s, to ensure long-term competi- — competitiveness in our manufacturing base in the decades ahead.
The order I’m about to sign does two things. First, it orders a 100-day review of four vital products: semiconductors — one; key minerals and materials, like rare earths, that are used to make everything from harder steel to airplanes; three, pharmaceuticals and their ingredients; four, advanced batteries, like the ones used in electric vehicles.
There’s strong bipartisan support for fast reviews of these four areas because they’re essential to protecting and strengthening American competitiveness.
Second, this order initiates a long-term review of the industry basis of six sectors of our overall economy over the next year. These reviews will identify policy recommendations to fortify our supply chains at every step, and critically, to start implementing those recommendations right away. We’re not going to wait for a review to be completed before we start closing the existing gaps.
And as we implement this work, my administration will draw on a full range of American talent — including labor and industry leaders, policy experts, scientists, farmers, engineers — to get their input.
I’m grateful for the members of Congress who came to see me — Republican leaders, as well as Democrats. They’re leading the way. We’re going to stay in close contact with members of both sides of the aisle and keep advancing our shared goals.
Everyone has a role to play to strengthen our supply chains in our — and our country. This is the United States of America. We are better prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st century than any country in the world. There’s nothing, nothing, nothing we’ve ever failed to achieve if we work together. And that’s what we decided to do today, and that’s what we’re going to do: work together.
So I thank you all. I’m very optimistic about the meeting we had today with our congressional colleagues. And now I’m going to walk over and sign that executive order.
First, the order directs an immediate 100-day review across federal agencies to address vulnerabilities in the supply chains of four key products.
Pharmaceuticals and active pharmaceutical agreements (APIs). APIs are the part of a pharmaceutical product that contains the active drug. In recent decades, more than 70 percent of API production facilitators supplying the U.S. have moved offshore. This work will complement the ongoing work to secure supply chains needed to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Critical minerals, including rare earths. Critical minerals are an essential part of defense, high-tech, and other products. From rare earths in our electric motors and generators to the carbon fiber used for airplanes—the United States needs to ensure we are not dependent upon foreign sources or single points of failure in times of national emergency.
Semiconductors and Advanced Packaging. The United States is the birthplace of this technology, and has always been a leader in semiconductor development. However, over the years we have underinvested in production—hurting our innovative edge—while other countries have learned from our example and increased their investments in the industry.
Large capacity batteries, such as those used in electric vehicles: As we take action to tackle the climate crisis, we know that will lead to large demand for new energy technologies like electric vehicle batteries. By identifying supply chain risks, we can meet the President’s commitment to accelerate U.S. leadership of clean energy technologies. For example, while the U.S. is a net exporter of electric vehicles, we are not a leader in the supply chain associated with electric battery production. The U.S. could better leverage our sizeable lithium reserves and manufacturing know-how to expand domestic battery production.
The 100-day review will identify near term steps the administration can take, including with Congress, to address vulnerabilities in the supply chains for these critical goods.
Second, the order calls for a more in-depth one-year review of a broader set of U.S. supply chains. The one-year review will include:
A focus on six key sectors: the defense industrial base; the public health and biological preparedness industrial base; the information and communications technology (ICT) industrial base; the energy sector industrial base; the transportation industrial base; and supply chains for agricultural commodities and food production.
A set of risks for agencies to consider in their assessment of supply chain vulnerabilities: Agencies and Departments are directed to review a variety of risks to supply chains and industrial bases. For example, these reviews must identify critical goods and materials within supply chains, the manufacturing or other capabilities needed to produce those materials, as well as a variety of vulnerabilities created by failure to develop domestic capabilities. Agencies and Departments are also directed to identify locations of key manufacturing and production assets, the availability of substitutes or alternative sources for critical goods, the state of workforce skills and identified gaps for all sectors, and the role of transportation systems in supporting supply chains and industrial bases.
Recommendations on actions that should be taken to improve resiliency: Agencies are directed to make specific policy recommendations to address risks, as well as proposals for new research and development activities.
A sustained commitment to supply chain resiliency: The government will commit to a regular, ongoing process of reviewing supply chain resilience, including a quadrennial review process.
Consultation with external stakeholders: The government cannot secure supply chains on its own. It requires partnership and consultation with the American people. The E.O. directs the Administration to consult widely with outside stakeholders, such as those in industry, academia, non-governmental organizations, communities, labor unions, and State, local, territorial, and Tribal governments.
The E.O. will build on bipartisan Congressional action and leadership on this issue, and the Administration will remain in close touch with Congress to solicit recommendations during the review. President Biden has also directed his Administration to work with U.S. partners and allies to ensure that they too have strong and resilient supply chains.
President Biden has directed his Administration to ensure that the task of building resilient supply chains draws on the talent and work ethic of communities across America, including communities of color and cities and towns that have for too long suffered from job losses and industrial decline. As the Administration implements the Executive Order, it will identify opportunities to implement policies to secure supply chains that grow the American economy, increase wages, benefit small businesses and historically disadvantaged communities, strengthen pandemic and biopreparedness, support the fight against global climate change, and maintain America’s technological leadership in key sectors.
Emergency Legislative Package to Fund Vaccinations, Provide Immediate, Direct Relief to Families Bearing the Brunt of the COVID-19 Crisis, and Support Struggling Communities
The COVID-19 pandemic and the corresponding economic crisis are devastating families across the country. More than 20 million Americans have contracted COVID-19, and at least 370,000 have died. From big cities to small towns, too many Americans are barely scraping by, or not scraping by at all. And the pandemic has shined a light on the persistence of racial injustice in our healthcare system and our economy. The need to act is clear in the lines at food banks, the small businesses that are closed or closing, and the growing number of Americans experiencing housing insecurity. After nearly a year of the public health crisis, our nation remains in this dark winter of the pandemic and facing a deep economic crisis.
President-elect Biden is laying out the first step of an aggressive, two-step plan for rescue, from the depths of this crisis, and recovery, by investing in America, creating millions of additional good-paying jobs, combatting the climate crisis, advancing racial equity, and building back better than before.
While Congress’s bipartisan action in December was a step in the right direction, it was only a down payment. It fell far short of the resources needed to tackle the immediate crisis. We are in a race against time, and absent additional government assistance, the economic and public health crises could worsen in the months ahead; schools will not be able to safely reopen; and vaccinations will remain far too slow.
As last month’s jobs report underscored, the virus and our economy are intertwined. We cannot rescue our economy without containing this virus.
Today, President-elect Biden is announcing the American Rescue Plan to change the course of the pandemic, build a bridge towards economic recovery, and invest in racial justice. The American Rescue Plan will address the stark, intergenerational inequities that have worsened in the wake of COVID-19. Researchers at Columbia University estimate that these proposals will cut child poverty in half.
Specifically, President-elect Biden’s American Rescue Plan will:
Mount a national vaccination program, contain COVID-19, and safely reopen schools, including by setting up community vaccination sites nationwide, scaling up testing and tracing, eliminating supply shortage problems, investing in high-quality treatments, providing paid sick leave to contain spread of the virus, addressing health disparities, and making the necessary investments to meet the president-elect’s goal of safely reopening a majority of K-8 schools in the first 100 days.
Deliver immediate relief to working families bearing the brunt of this crisis by sending $1,400 per-person checks to households across America, providing direct housing and nutrition assistance, expanding access to safe and reliable childcare and affordable healthcare, increasing the minimum wage, extending unemployment insurance, and giving families with kids and childless workers an emergency boost this year.
Support communities that are struggling in the wake of COVID-19 by providing support for the hardest-hit small businesses, especially small businesses owned by entrepreneurs of color, and protecting the jobs of the first responders, transit workers, and other essential workers we depend on.
In addition to addressing the public health and economic crises head on, the president-elect’s plan will provide emergency funding to upgrade federal information technology infrastructure and address the recent breaches of federal government data systems. This is an urgent national security issue that cannot wait.
President-elect Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan is ambitious, but achievable, and will rescue the American economy and start beating the virus. Congress should act expeditiously to help working families, communities, and small businesses persevere through the pandemic.
This legislative package is needed now to address the immediate crises. In the coming weeks, President-elect Biden will lay out his economic recovery plan to invest in America, create millions of additional good-paying jobs, combat the climate crisis, and build back better than before.
Mount a national vaccination program, contain COVID-19, and safely reopen schools
The pandemic is raging, with record high infection and death rates. A new strain of the virus that is even more contagious is appearing in communities across the country. Meanwhile, Americans are waiting to get their vaccines, even while doses are sitting on shelves. More than ten months into the pandemic, we still lack necessary testing capacity and are suffering from shortages of supplies like basic protective equipment for those on the front lines. Americans of color are being infected and are dying from COVID-19 at greater rates because of lasting systemic racism in our health care system. And, older Americans continue to suffer at disproportionate rates.
We can’t wait to slow the spread of this virus. And, we can’t fight this pandemic in fits and starts. President-elect Biden is putting forward a comprehensive plan to deal with this crisis and launch a whole-of-government COVID-19 response plan that will change the course of the pandemic by ensuring we have necessary supplies and protective gear, increasing testing to mitigate spread, vaccinating the US population, safely reopening schools, and addressing COVID-19 health disparities.
To support this plan, President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to provide the $160 billion in funding necessary to save American lives and execute on his plan to mount a national vaccination program, expand testing, mobilize a public health jobs program, and take other necessary steps to build capacity to fight the virus. He is also calling on Congress to ensure our schools have everything they need to safely reopen and to provide emergency paid leave so people can stay home when needed to help contain the spread of the virus. Altogether, this would put over $400 billion toward these critical measures for addressing COVID-19.
President-elect Biden’s rescue proposal will:
Mount a national vaccination program. Current vaccination efforts are not sufficient to quickly and equitably vaccinate the vast majority of the U.S. population. We must ensure that those on the ground have what they need to get vaccinations into people’s arms. The president-elect’s proposal will invest $20 billion in a national vaccination program in partnership with states, localities, Tribes and territories. This will include launching community vaccination centers around the country and deploying mobile vaccination units to hard-to-reach areas. The Biden Administration will take action to ensure all people in the United States — regardless of their immigration status — can access the vaccine free-of-charge and without cost-sharing. To help states ensure that all Medicaid enrollees will be vaccinated, President-elect Biden will also work with Congress to expand the Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentage (FMAP) to 100% for the administration of vaccines.
Scale up testing to stop the spread of COVID, safely reopen schools, and protect at-risk populations. While we are working to vaccinate the population, we need to focus on what we know works. Testing is a critical strategy for controlling the spread of COVID-19, yet the U.S. is still not using it effectively. Despite innovations to improve testing, tests are still not widely available. The president-elect’s plan invests $50 billion in a massive expansion of testing, providing funds for the purchase of rapid tests, investments to expand lab capacity, and support to help schools and local governments implement regular testing protocols. Expanded testing will ensure that schools can implement regular testing to support safe reopening; that vulnerable settings like prisons and long-term care facilities can regularly test their populations; and that any American can get a test for free when they need one.
Mobilize a public health jobs program to support COVID-19 response. The president-elect’s plan includes an historic investment in expanding the public health workforce. This proposal will fund 100,000 public health workers, nearly tripling the country’s community health roles. These individuals will be hired to work in their local communities to perform vital tasks like vaccine outreach and contact tracing in the near term, and to transition into community health roles to build our long-term public health capacity that will help improve quality of care and reduce hospitalization for low-income and underserved communities.
Address health disparities and COVID-19. While COVID-19 has devastated the entire country, it has hit some groups and communities of color much harder than others. President-elect Biden is committed to addressing the disparities evident in the pandemic at every step, from ensuring equitable distribution of vaccines and supplies to expanding health care services for underserved communities. His proposal includes funding to provide health services for underserved populations, including expanding Community Health Centers and investing in health services on tribal lands. These funds will support the expansion of COVID treatment and care, as well as our ability to provide vaccination to underserved populations.
Protect vulnerable populations in congregate settings. Long-term care residents and workers account for almost 40% of all U.S. COVID-19 deaths. Further, African-American and Latina women, who have borne the brunt of the pandemic, are overrepresented among long-term care workers. The president-elect’s proposal provides critical funding for states to deploy strike teams to long-term care facilities experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks — which may impede vaccination of residents and workers — and to conduct better infection control oversight.
1 in 5 state and federal prisoners in the U.S. has had COVID-19, and African Americans and Latinos are overrepresented among incarcerated individuals. The proposal also supports COVID-19 safety in federal, state, and local prisons, jails, and detention centers by providing funding for COVID-19 mitigation strategies, including supplies and physical distancing; safe re-entry for the formerly incarcerated; and the vaccination of both incarcerated people and staff.
Identify and address emerging strains of COVID-19. The identification of new strains of SARS-CoV-2 in the United Kingdom and South Africa highlight a key vulnerability in our nation’s COVID response: we simply do not have the kind of robust surveillance capabilities that we need to track outbreaks and mutations. Tracking the way the virus is changing and moving through the population is essential to understanding outbreaks, generating treatments and vaccines, and controlling the pandemic. The president-elect’s proposal includes funding to dramatically increase our country’s sequencing, surveillance, and outbreak analytics capacity at the levels demanded by the crisis.
Provide emergency relief and purchase critical supplies and deploy National Guard. Persistent supply shortages — from gloves and masks to glass vials and test reagents — are inhibiting our ability to provide testing and vaccination and putting frontline workers at risk. The president-elect’s plan will invest $30 billion into the Disaster Relief Fund to ensure sufficient supplies and protective gear, and to provide 100% federal reimbursement for critical emergency response resources to states, local governments, and Tribes, including deployment of the National Guard. The president-elect will call for an additional $10 billion investment in expanding domestic manufacturing for pandemic supplies. These funds will support President-elect Biden in fulfilling his commitment to fully use the Defense Production Act and to safeguard the country by producing more pandemic supplies in the U.S.
Invest in treatments for COVID-19. Months into this pandemic, we still do not have reliable and accessible treatments. The federal government urgently needs to invest to support development, manufacturing, and purchase of therapies to ensure wide availability and affordability of effective treatments, as well as invest in studies of the long-term health impacts of COVID-19 and potential therapies to address them.
Protect workers against COVID-19. Millions of Americans, many of whom are people of color, immigrants, and low-wage workers, continue to put their lives on the line to keep the country functioning through the pandemic. They should not have to lie awake at night wondering if they’ll make it home from work safely the next day, or if they’ll bring home the virus to their loved ones and communities. The president-elect is calling on Congress to authorize the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue a COVID-19 Protection Standard that covers a broad set of workers, so that workers not typically covered by OSHA, like many public workers on the frontlines, also receive protection from unsafe working conditions and retaliation. And, President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to provide additional funding for OSHA enforcement and grant funding, including for the Susan Harwood grant program, for organizations to help keep vulnerable workers healthy and safe from COVID-19. These steps will help keep more workers healthy, reopen more businesses safely, and beat the virus.
Restore U.S. leadership globally and build better preparedness. Protecting the United States from COVID-19 requires a global response, and the pandemic is a grave reminder that biological threats can pose catastrophic consequences to the United States and the world. The president-elect’s plan will provide support to the international health and humanitarian response; mitigate the pandemic’s devastating impact on global health, food security, and gender-based violence; support international efforts to develop and distribute medical countermeasures for COVID-19; and build the capacity required to fight COVID-19, its variants, and emerging biological threats.
Provide schools the resources they need to reopen safely. A critical plank of President-elect Biden’s COVID-19 plan is to safely reopen schools as soon as possible — so kids and educators can get back in class and parents can go back to work. This will require immediate, urgent action by Congress. The COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented challenges for K-12 schools and institutions of higher education, and the students and parents they serve. School closures have disproportionately impacted the learning of Black and Hispanic students, as well as students with disabilities and English language learners. While the December down payment for schools and higher education institutions was a start, it is not sufficient to address the crisis. President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to provide $170 billion — supplemented by additional state and local relief resources — for K-12 schools and institutions of higher education. These resources will help schools serve all students, no matter where they are learning, and help achieve President-elect Biden’s goal to open the majority of K-8 schools within the first 100 days of his Administration.
Provide $130 billion to help schools to safely reopen. Schools need flexible resources to safely reopen and operate and/or facilitate remote learning. The president-elect’s plan will provide $130 billion to support schools in safely reopening. These funds can be used to reduce class sizes and modify spaces so students and teachers can socially distance; improve ventilation; hire more janitors and implement mitigation measures; provide personal protective equipment; ensure every school has access to a nurse; increase transportation capacity to facilitate social distancing on the bus; hire counselors to support students as they transition back to the classroom; close the digital divide that is exacerbating inequities during the pandemic; provide summer school or other support for students that will help make up lost learning time this year; create and expand community schools; and cover other costs needed to support safely reopening and support students. These funds will also include provisions to ensure states adequately fund education and protect students in low-income communities that have been hardest hit by COVID-19. Districts must ensure that funds are used to not only reopen schools, but also to meet students’ academic, mental health and social, and emotional needs in response to COVID-19, (e.g. through extended learning time, tutoring, and counselors), wherever they are learning. Funding can be used to prevent cuts to state pre-K programs. A portion of funding will be reserved for a COVID-19 Educational Equity Challenge Grant, which will support state, local and tribal governments in partnering with teachers, parents, and other stakeholders to advance equity- and evidence-based policies to respond to COVID-related educational challenges and give all students the support they need to succeed. In addition to this funding, schools will be able to access FEMA Disaster Relief Fund resources to get reimbursed for certain COVID-19 related expenses and will receive support to implement regular testing protocols.
Expand the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. The president-elect’s plan will ensure colleges have critical resources to implement public health protocols, execute distance learning plans, and provide emergency grants to students in need. This $35 billion in funding will be directed to public institutions, including community colleges, as well as, public and private Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other Minority Serving Institutions. This funding will provide millions of students up to an additional $1,700 in financial assistance from their college.
Hardest Hit Education Fund. Provide $5 billion in funds for governors to use to support educational programs and the learning needs of students significantly impacted by COVID-19, whether K-12, higher education, or early childhood education programs.
Provide emergency paid leave to 106 million more Americans to reduce the spread of the virus. No American should have to choose between putting food on the table and quarantining to prevent further spread of COVID-19. And yet, nearly 1 in 4 workers and close to half of low-income workers lack access to paid sick leave, disproportionately burdening Americans of color. Lack of paid leave is threatening the financial security of working families and increasing the risk of COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. Congress did the right thing last year when it created an emergency paid leave program through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. That action decreased daily infections by 400 cases per state per day in states that previously had no paid sick leave requirement. While the December down payment extended the Families First employer tax credits through March 2021, it did not renew the requirement that employers provide leave. President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to:
Put the requirement back in place and eliminate exemptions for employers with more than 500 and less than 50 employees. He will also make it clear that healthcare workers and first responders get these benefits, too. Closing these loopholes in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act will extend emergency paid leave to up to 106 million additional workers.
Provide expanded paid sick and family and medical leave. The president-elect will provide over 14 weeks of paid sick and family and medical leave to help parents with additional caregiving responsibilities when a child or loved one’s school or care center is closed; for people who have or are caring for people with COVID-19 symptoms, or who are quarantining due to exposure; and for people needing to take time to get the vaccine.
Expand emergency paid leave to include federal workers. This measure will provide paid leave protections to approximately 2 million Americans who work for the federal government.
Provide a maximum paid leave benefit of $1,400 per-week for eligible workers. This will provide full wage replacement to workers earning up to $73,000 annually, more than three-quarters of all workers.
Reimburse employers with less than 500 employees for the cost of this leave. Extending the refundable tax credit will reimburse employers for 100 percent of the cost of this leave.
Reimburse state and local government for the cost of this leave.
Extend emergency paid leave measures until September 30, 2021. With so much uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, extending paid leave until the end of September will help to limit the spread of COVID-19 and provide economic security to millions of working families.
Deliver Immediate, Direct Relief to Families Bearing the Brunt of the Crisis.
As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, millions of Americans are hurting through no fault of their own. More than 10 million Americans are unemployed, and 4 million have been out of work for half a year or longer. The jobs crisis is particularly severe in communities of color, where 1 in 10 Black workers and 1 in 11 Latino workers are unemployed. Large numbers of families are struggling to pay rent or their mortgages and put food on the table. And, last month, it only got worse: we lost 140,000 jobs in December, including 20,000 public educators, and nearly 400,000 jobs at restaurants and bars.
President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to take urgent action to deliver immediate, direct relief to Americans bearing the brunt of this crisis. Altogether, this would devote about $1 trillion towards building a bridge to economic recovery for working families and, according to researchers at Columbia University, cut child poverty in half.
President-elect Biden’s plan will:
Give working families a $1,400 per-person check to help pay their bills, bringing their total relief payment from this and the December down payment to $2,000. More than 1 in 3 households — and half of Black and Latino households — are struggling to pay for usual household expenses like rent and groceries during the pandemic. In this crisis, working families need more than the $600 per person that Congress passed last year. President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to increase that direct financial assistance to $2,000. An additional $1,400 per person in direct checks will help hard-hit households cover expenses, spend money at local businesses in their communities, and stimulate the economy. President-elect Biden’s plan will also expand eligibility to adult dependents who have been left out of previous rounds of relief and all mixed status households. And, his plan will ensure that the Treasury Department has the flexibility and resources it needs to deliver stimulus checks to the families that need them most, including the millions of families that still haven’t received the $1,200 checks they are entitled to under the CARES Act.
Extend and expand unemployment insurance benefits so American workers can pay their bills. Around 18 million Americans rely on the unemployment insurance program. Congress did the right thing by continuing expanded eligibility and extending the number of weeks unemployed workers can receive benefits. One study estimates that extending pandemic unemployment insurance programs through 2021 could create or save over five million jobs. But these benefits are set to expire in weeks — even as the COVID-19 pandemic worsens. Millions of Americans are receiving benefits through unemployment insurance programs that will no longer serve new beneficiaries starting in mid-March.
President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to extend these and other programs, providing millions of hard-hit workers with the financial security and peace of mind they need and deserve. And, he believes Congress should provide a $400 per-week unemployment insurance supplement to help hard-hit workers cover household expenses. The president-elect is committed to providing these emergency supports to families for as long as the COVID-19 crisis continues and employment opportunities remain limited. The president-elect is proposing to extend these emergency unemployment insurance programs through September 2021, and will work with Congress on ways to automatically adjust the length and amount of relief depending on health and economic conditions so future legislative delay doesn’t undermine the recovery and families’ access to benefits they need.
President-elect Biden’s plan will:
Extend financial assistance for workers who have exhausted their regular unemployment compensation benefits. Extending and increasing the additional weeks provided under the emergency unemployment insurance program will ensure that approximately 5 million Americans continue to receive assistance in the months ahead.
Extend financial assistance for unemployed workers who do not typically qualify for unemployment compensation benefits. The president-elect believes Congress should extend unemployment support for self-employed workers, like ride-share drivers and many grocery delivery workers, who do not typically qualify for regular unemployment compensation. And, he supports increasing the number of weeks these workers can receive the benefit to provide long-term financial security to the program’s approximately 8 million beneficiaries.
Fully fund states’ short-time compensation programs and additional weeks of benefits. Short-time compensation programs, also known as work sharing, help small businesses stay afloat and economically vulnerable workers make ends meet by enabling workers to stay on the job at reduced hours, while making up the difference in pay. These programs avoid layoffs and pave the way for rapid rehiring and an accelerated recovery.
Help struggling households keep a roof over their heads. The economic fallout of COVID-19 has made it more difficult for working families, especially families of color, to cover their housing expenses. Across the country, 1 in 5 renters and 1 in 10 homeowners with a mortgage are behind on payments. Congress took an important step in the right direction by securing $25 billion in rental assistance and extending the federal eviction moratorium until January 31. However, American families already owe $25 billion in back rent, and the threat of widespread evictions will still exist at the end of January. Further, more than 10 million homeowners have fallen behind on mortgage payments. Failing to take additional action will lead to a wave of evictions and foreclosures in the coming months, overwhelming emergency shelter capacity and increasing the likelihood of COVID-19 infections. And Americans of color, who have on average a fraction of the wealth available to white families, face higher risks of eviction and housing loss without critical assistance.
President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to take immediate action to forestall a coming wave of COVID-related evictions and foreclosures.
Ensure that families hit hard by the economic crisis won’t face eviction or foreclosure. The president-elect is calling on Congress to extend the eviction and foreclosure moratoriums and continue applications for forbearance on federally-guaranteed mortgages until September 30, 2021. These measures will prevent untold economic hardship for homeowners, while limiting the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. The president-elect is also calling on Congress to provide funds for legal assistance for households facing eviction or foreclosure.
Help renters and small landlords make ends meet by providing an additional $30 billion in rental and critical energy and water assistance for hard-hit individuals and families. While the $25 billion allocated by Congress was an important down payment on the back rent accrued during this crisis, it is insufficient to meet the scale of the need. That’s why President-elect Biden is proposing an additional $25 billion in rental assistance to provide much-needed rental relief, especially for low- and moderate-income households who have lost jobs or are out of the labor market. The president-elect is also proposing $5 billion to cover home energy and water costs and arrears through programs like the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, for struggling renters. These funds will ensure that the hardest-hit renters and small landlords, including those in disadvantaged communities that have suffered disproportionately in terms of pollution and other environmental harms, aren’t put in the position where they can’t cover their own housing expenses. This program includes a competitive set-aside of funding for states to invest in clean energy and energy efficiency projects that reduce electricity bills for families in disadvantaged communities.
Deliver $5 billion in emergency assistance to help secure housing for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. This funding will allow states and localities to help approximately 200,000 individuals and families obtain stable housing, while providing a downpayment on the president-elect’s comprehensive approach to ending homelessness and making housing a right for all Americans. Specifically, these funds will provide flexibility for both congregate and non-congregate housing options, help jurisdictions purchase and convert hotels and motels into permanent housing, and give homeless services providers the resources they need to hire and retain staff, maintain outreach programs, and provide essential services.
Address the growing hunger crisis in America. About 1 in 7 households nationwide, including more than 1 in 5 Black and Latino households and many Asian American and Pacific Islander households, are struggling to secure the food they need. While the December down payment provided $13 billion to strengthen and expand federal nutrition programs, it will not solve the hunger crisis in America. President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to ensure all Americans, regardless of background, have access to healthy, affordable groceries. The president-elect’s plan will:
Extend the 15 percent Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit increase. Maintaining the increase through the summer — when childhood hunger spikes due to a lack of school meals — is a critical backstop against rising food insecurity. This change will help keep hunger at bay for around 40 million Americans. The president-elect is calling for this to be extended through September 2021. He is also committed to providing this boost for as long as the COVID-19 crisis continues, and will work with Congress on ways to automatically adjust the length and amount of relief depending on health and economic conditions so future legislative delay doesn’t undermine the recovery and families’ access to benefits they need.
Invest $3 billion to help women, infants and children get the food they need. This multi-year investment in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is needed to account for increased enrollment due to growing hunger and to increase outreach to ensure that low-income families have access to high-quality nutritious food and nutrition education.
Partner with restaurants to feed American families and keep restaurant workers on the job at the same time. The FEMA Empowering Essential Deliveries (FEED) Act will leverage the resources and expertise of the restaurant industry to help get food to families who need it, and help get laid-off restaurant workers across the country back on the job.
Support SNAP by temporarily cutting the state match. The president-elect is calling for a one time emergency infusion of administrative support for state anti-hunger and nutrition programs to ensure that benefits get to the kids and families that need it most.
Provide U.S. Territories with $1 billion in additional nutrition assistance for their residents. Bolstering the Nutrition Assistance Program block grant will help thousands of working families in Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands put food on the table for the duration of the pandemic.
Raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Throughout the pandemic, millions of American workers have put their lives on the line to keep their communities and country functioning, including the 40 percent of frontline workers who are people of color. As President-elect Biden has said, let’s not just praise them, let’s pay them. Hard working Americans deserve sufficient wages to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads, without having to keep multiple jobs. But millions of working families are struggling to get by. This is why the president-elect is calling on Congress to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, and end the tipped minimum wage and sub-minimum wage for people with disabilities so that workers across the country can live a middle class life and provide opportunity for their families.
Call on employers to meet their obligations to frontline essential workers and provide back hazard pay. Essential workers — who are disproportionately Black, Latino, and Asian American and Pacific Islander — have risked their lives to stock shelves, harvest crops, and care for the sick during this crisis. They have kept the country running even during the darkest days of the pandemic. A number of large employers, especially in the retail and grocery sectors, have seen bumper profitability in 2020 and yet done little or nothing at all to compensate their workers for the risks they took. The president-elect believes these employers have a duty to do right by their frontline essential workers and acknowledge their sacrifices with generous back hazard pay for the risks they took across 2020 and up to today. He and the vice president-elect will call on CEOs and other business leaders to take action to meet these obligations.
Expand access to high-quality, affordable child care. We are facing an acute, immediate child care crisis in America, which is exacerbating our economic crisis. Due to increased costs and lower enrollment, a recent survey of child care providers showed that most child care providers expect that they will close within a few months without relief or are uncertain how long they can stay open. If left unaddressed, many child care providers will close — some permanently — and millions of children could go without necessary care, and millions of parents could be left to make devastating choices this winter between caring for their children and working to put food on the table. Early childcare providers are almost entirely women, among whom 40 percent are people of color, and so these closures could devastate engines of opportunity for minority- and women-owned businesses. President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to take immediate actions to address this crisis by helping child care centers reopen and remain open safely, and by making that care affordable to families who need it.
In addition, too many families are unable to afford child care, while early educators earn wages so low that they can’t support their own families. This challenge existed before COVID-19, and the pandemic has exacerbated it. President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to ease the financial burden of care for families, expand financial support for child care providers so that this critical sector can stay afloat during the pandemic and beyond, and make critical investments to improve wages and benefits for the essential child care sector. President-elect Biden’s plan will:
Help hard-hit child care providers, including family child care homes, cover their costs and operate safely by creating a $25 billion emergency stabilization fund. This Emergency Stabilization Fund will help hard-hit child care providers that are in danger of closing and provide support to nearly half of all child care providers. It will also assist those that have had to shut down meet their financial obligations during the pandemic, so that they can reopen. It will help providers pay for rent, utilities, and payroll, as well as increased costs associated with the pandemic including personal protective equipment, ventilation supplies, smaller group sizes, and modifications to make the physical environment safer for children and workers.
Expand child care assistance to help millions of families and help parents return to work. Millions of parents are risking their lives as essential workers, while at the same time struggling to obtain care for their children. Others have become 24/7 caregivers while simultaneously working remotely. Still more are unemployed, caring for their children full-time, and worrying about how they will make ends meet or afford child care when they do find a job. And, the limited access to child care during the pandemic has caused more women to leave the workforce. While the December down payment provides $10 billion in funding through the Child Care and Development Block Grant program, the president-elect’s proposal expands this investment with an additional $15 billion in funding, including for those who experienced a job interruption during the COVID-19 pandemic and are struggling to afford child care. This additional assistance with child care costs will help the disproportionate number of women who left the labor force to take on caregiving duties reenter the workforce. And, this expanded investment will also help rebuild the supply of child care providers, and encourage states to take meaningful steps towards increasing the pay and benefits of child care workers.
Increase tax credits to help cover the cost of childcare. To help address the childcare affordability crisis, President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to expand child care tax credits on an emergency basis for one year to help working families cover the cost of childcare. Families will get back as a tax credit as much as half of their spending on child care for children under age 13, so that they can receive a total of up to $4,000 for one child or $8,000 for two or more children. The tax credit will be refundable, meaning that families who don’t owe a lot in taxes will still benefit. The full 50 percent reimbursement will be available to families making less than $125,000 a year. And, all families making between $125,000 and $400,000 will receive a partial credit so they receive benefits at least as generous as those they can receive today.
Bolster financial security for families and essential workers in the midst of the pandemic. The lowest income families are particularly vulnerable in the midst of the pandemic, and President-elect Biden is calling for one year expansions of key supports for families on an emergency basis. The Child Tax Credit should be made fully refundable for the year. Currently, 27 million children live in families with household incomes low enough that they didn’t qualify for the full value of the Child Tax Credit, and this measure would give these children and their families additional needed resources. The president-elect is also calling to increase the credit to $3,000 per child ($3,600 for a child under age 6) and make 17 year-olds qualifying children for the year.
He is also calling for an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit for the year to ensure that the lowest income workers get critical support including millions of essential workers. He is proposing to raise the maximum Earned Income Tax Credit for childless adults from roughly $530 to close to $1,500, raise the income limit for the credit from about $16,000 to about $21,000, and expand the age range that is eligible including by eliminating the age cap for older workers and expanding eligibility for younger workers so that they can claim the credit they deserve. Expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit for childless adults would give a needed boost to the earnings of several million workers, including cashiers, home health aides, delivery people, and other people working in essential occupations. The president-elect also is committed to making sure that Americans who see their earnings fall in 2021 due to the pandemic don’t see the Earned Income Tax Credit reduced as a result.
Lastly, the president-elect is calling for an additional $1 billion for states to cover the additional cash assistance that Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) recipients needed as a result of the pandemic crisis. The pandemic has led to increased TANF caseloads, generated higher costs for many TANF recipients — from higher utility costs to the need for internet access for remote schooling — and longer periods of joblessness given high unemployment. These funds will provide sorely needed relief.
Preserving and expanding health coverage. Roughly two to three million people lost employer sponsored health insurance between March and September, and even families who have maintained coverage may struggle to pay premiums and afford care. Further, going into this crisis, 30 million people were without coverage, limiting their access to the health care system in the middle of a pandemic. To ensure access to health coverage, President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to subsidize continuation health coverage (COBRA) through the end of September. He is also asking Congress to expand and increase the value of the Premium Tax Credit to lower or eliminate health insurance premiums and ensure enrollees — including those who never had coverage through their jobs — will not pay more than 8.5 percent of their income for coverage. Together, these policies would reduce premiums for more than ten million people and reduce the ranks of the uninsured by millions more.
Expanding access to behavioral health services. The pandemic has made access to mental health and substance use disorder services more essential than ever. The president-elect is calling on Congress to appropriate $4 billion to enable the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Health Resources and Services Administration to expand access to these vital services.
Ensure adequate funding for veterans’ health. COVID-19 has put enormous pressure on America’s veterans and on the Veterans Health Administration that is charged with providing and facilitating top-notch care for them. The president-elect is committed to ensuring America delivers on its promise to the people who have served our country. To account for increased usage as many veterans have lost access to private health insurance, higher overall costs, and other pandemic-related impacts, the president-elect is immediately requesting an additional $20 billion to make sure that veterans’ health care needs can be met through this crisis.
Combat increased risk of gender-based violence. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated domestic violence and sexual assault, creating a “shadow pandemic” for many women and girls who are largely confined to their home with their abuser and facing economic insecurity that makes escape more difficult. President Biden is calling for at least $800 million in supplemental funding for key federal programs that protect survivors.
Provide Critical Support to Struggling Communities.
COVID-19 and the resulting economic crisis has devastated communities across the country. Schools remain closed, with students struggling with remote learning and parents — 1.6 million mothers this fall — leaving the workforce. Small businesses, the backbones of their communities that employ nearly half of American workers, are unable to keep their doors open. And, some state and local essential workers are seeing their wages reduced or their jobs disappear. President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to send a lifeline to small businesses; protect educators, public transit workers, and first responders from lay-offs; and keep critical services running at full strength. Altogether, his plan would provide approximately $440 billion in critical support to struggling communities. This is in addition to funds that President-elect Biden is requesting for safely reopening schools throughout the country.
President-elect Biden’s plan will:
Provide small businesses with the funding they need to reopen and rebuild. Small businesses sustain half of the private sector jobs in America, and they have struggled in the wake of COVID-19. Black- and Brown-owned small businesses, and those in hard-hit industries like restaurants, hotels, and the arts, have suffered disproportionately. Nationally, small business revenue is down 32 percent, and at least 400,000 firms have permanently closed. To help hard-hit firms survive the pandemic and fully recover, President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to:
Provide grants to more than 1 million of the hardest hit small businesses. This $15 billion in flexible, equitably distributed grants will help small businesses get back on their feet, put the current disaster behind them, and build back better.
Leverage $35 billion in government funds into $175 billion in additional small business lending and investment. With a $35 billion investment in successful state, local, tribal, and non-profit small business financing programs, Congress can generate as much as $175 billion in low-interest loans and venture capital to help entrepreneurs — including those in the clean energy sector — innovate, create and maintain jobs, build wealth, and provide the essential goods and services that communities depend on.
In addition, the president-elect wants to work with Congress to make sure that restaurants, bars, and other businesses that have suffered disproportionately have sufficient support to bridge to the recovery, including through the Community Credit Corporation at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Provide support for first responders and other essential workers. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, first responders, frontline public health workers, and countless other essential workers have risked their lives to keep our communities safe and functioning. Educators have worked tirelessly to keep our children learning and growing, coming up with new ways to reach and engage their students, often while balancing caring for their own children. Without these front line workers, we will not be able to effectively respond to the pandemic, administer the vaccine, or safely reopen our schools. President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to provide $350 billion in emergency funding for state, local, and territorial governments to ensure that they are in a position to keep front line public workers on the job and paid, while also effectively distributing the vaccine, scaling testing, reopening schools, and maintaining other vital services. The president-elect is also calling on Congress to allocate $3 billion of this funding to the Economic Development Administration (EDA). Grants from EDA provide resources directly to state and local government entities, tribal institutions, institutions of higher education, and non-profits to fund initiatives that support bottom’s up economic development and enable good-paying jobs. This funding — double the amount provided by the CARES Act — will support communities nationwide with a broad range of financial needs as they respond to and recover from COVID-19.
Protect the future of public transit. Safe and dependable public transit systems are critical for a robust and equitable economy recovery. The president-elect is calling for $20 billion in relief for the hardest hit public transit agencies. This relief will keep agencies from laying off transit workers and cutting the routes that essential workers rely on every day while making these transit systems more resilient and ensuring that communities of color maintain the access to opportunity that public transportation provides.
Support Tribal governments’ response to COVID-19. COVID-19 has exacted an especially high toll in Indian Country. People living on reservations are four times more likely to have COVID-19 and American Indian and Alaska Natives are nearly twice as likely to die from COVID-19 than white Americans. While the December down payment had many beneficial provisions, it included little direct funding to help Tribal governments respond to COVID-19. President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to give Tribes the resources they need to obtain sufficient personal protective equipment, increase access to clean water and electricity, and expand internet access so that children can learn remotely and more families can obtain basic health care through telemedicine. President-elect Biden’s plan would invest $20 billion in Indian Country to support Tribal governments’ response to the pandemic. These resources will help to reduce stark and persistent inequities in COVID-19 transmission, hospitalization, and death, while improving economic conditions and opportunity.
Modernize federal information technology to protect against future cyber attacks.
In addition to the COVID-19 crisis, we also face a crisis when it comes to the nation’s cybersecurity. The recent cybersecurity breaches of federal government data systems underscore the importance and urgency of strengthening U.S. cybersecurity capabilities. President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to launch the most ambitious effort ever to modernize and secure federal IT and networks. To remediate the SolarWinds breach and boost U.S. defenses, including of the COVID-19 vaccine process, President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to:
Expand and improve the Technology Modernization Fund. A $9 billion investment will help the U.S. launch major new IT and cybersecurity shared services at the Cyber Security and Information Security Agency (CISA) and the General Services Administration and complete modernization projects at federal agencies. In addition, the president-elect is calling on Congress to change the fund’s reimbursement structure in order to fund more innovative and impactful projects.
Surge cybersecurity technology and engineering expert hiring. Providing the Information Technology Oversight and Reform fund with $200 million will allow for the rapid hiring of hundreds of experts to support the federal Chief Information Security Officer and U.S. Digital Service.
Build shared, secure services to drive transformational projects. Investing $300 million in no-year funding for Technology Transformation Services in the General Services Administration will drive secure IT projects forward without the need of reimbursement from agencies.
Improving security monitoring and incident response activities. An additional $690M for CISA will bolster cybersecurity across federal civilian networks, and support the piloting of new shared security and cloud computing services.
President-Elect Joe Biden described the first part of his two-pronged plan of Rescue and Recovery from the surging coronavirus pandemic and the economic devastation. In the first of two speeches, he detailed his Rescue Plan to speed up distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations and economic relief to families, states and localities.
Here is a highlighted transcript of his remarks, delivered from Wilmington, Delaware, on January 14: –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Good evening, my fellow Americans.
It’s been three hundred and forty-three days since the virus that has ravaged our nation tragically claimed its first life.
On February 6, 2020, Patricia Dowd took her last breath at home, under the California sun of Santa Clara. She was 57 years old. A beloved wife, mother, daughter, and sister. She never knew she had the virus, at a time when most folks never even heard about the virus. But just like that, she was gone.
Almost exactly one year later, nearly 400,000 of our fellow Americans have met the same cruel fate. Countless families and friends left behind, with unrelenting grief and guilt, anger and frustration. And the emptiness felt by the loss of life is compounded by the loss of our way of life.
During this pandemic, millions of Americans — through no fault of their own — have lost the dignity and respect that comes with a job and a paycheck.
Millions of Americans who never thought they’d be out of work are facing eviction or waiting hours in their car to feed their families as they drive up to a food bank.
Millions who have kept their job but have seen their hours and paycheck reduced are barely hanging on as well.
That is happening today in the United States of America.
Just as we are in the midst of a dark winter of this pandemic as cases, hospitalizations, and deaths spike at record levels, there is real pain overwhelming the real economy. The one where people rely on their paycheck — not their investments — to pay their bills, their meals, and their children’s needs.
You won’t see this pain if your score card is how things are going on Wall Street. But you will see it very clearly if you examine what the twin crises of the pandemic and the sinking economy have laid bare.
The growing divide between those few people at the very top who are doing quite well in this economy — and the rest of America.
Just since this pandemic began, the wealth of the top 1% has grown by roughly $1.5 trillion since the end of last year — four times the amount for the entire bottom 50%.
Some 18 million Americans are still relying on unemployment insurance.
Some 400,000 small businesses have permanently closed their doors.
It’s not hard to see that we are in the middle of a once-in-several generation economic crisis within a once-in-several generation public health crisis.
A crisis of deep human suffering in plain sight.
And there is no time to wait.
We have to act and act now.
This is what the economists are telling us.
More importantly, it is what the values we hold in our hearts as Americans are telling us.
A growing chorus of top economists agree that, in this moment of crisis, with interest rates at historic lows, we cannot afford inaction.
It’s not just that smart fiscal investments, including deficit spending, are more urgent than ever. It’s that the return on these investments — in jobs, in racial equity — will prevent long-term economic damage and the benefits will far surpass the costs.
A growing number of top economists has shown even our debt situation will be more stable — not less stable — if we seize this moment with vision and purpose.
And so, tonight, I’d like to talk to you about our way forward. A two-step plan of rescue and recovery. A two-step plan to build a bridge to the other side of the crises we face and to a better, stronger, more secure America.
Tonight, I’ll lay out the first step — the American Rescue Plan — that will tackle the pandemic and get direct financial assistance and relief to Americans who need it the most.
Next month, in my first appearance before a Joint Session of Congress, I will lay out the second step, my Build Back Better Recovery Plan. It will make historic investments in infrastructure and manufacturing, innovation, research and development, and clean energy. Investments in the caregiving economy and in skills and training needed by our workers to compete and win the global economy of the future.
Moody’s — an independent Wall Street firm — said this approach would create more than 18 million jobs.
Our rescue and recovery plan is the path forward with a seriousness of purpose, a clear plan with transparency and accountability with a call for unity that is equally necessary.
Unity is not a pie-in-the-sky dream, it is a practical step to getting things done.
As I said when it passed in December, the bipartisan COVID-19 relief package was an important first step. I am grateful for the Democratic, Republican, and Independent members of Congress who came together to get it done.
But as I said at the time, it’s just a down-payment. We need more action, more bipartisanship, and we need to move fast.
Our rescue plan starts aggressively in order to speed up our national COVID-19 response.
The vaccines offer so much hope. We are grateful to the scientists and researchers, and everyone who participated in the clinical trials. We are also grateful for the rigorous review and testing that’s led to millions of people around the world already being vaccinated safely.
But, the vaccine rollout in the United States has been a dismal failure thus far.
Tomorrow, I will lay out our vaccination plan to correct course and meet our goal of 100 million shots by the end of our first 100 days.
This will be one of the most challenging operational efforts we have ever undertaken as a nation.
We will move Heaven and Earth to get more people vaccinated, to create more places for them to get vaccinated, to mobilize more medical teams to get shots in peoples’ arms, and to increase vaccine supply and get it out the door as fast as possible.
We will also do everything we can to keep our educators and students safe and to safely open a majority of our K-8 schools by the end of our first 100 days.
We can do it, if we give school districts, communities, and states the clear guidance they need as well as the resources they will need that they can not afford right now because of the economic crisis we are in. That means more testing and transportation, additional cleaning and sanitizing services, protective equipment, and ventilation systems in the schools.
And we need to make sure that workers who have COVID-19 symptoms and are quarantined, and those who need to take care of family members with COVID-19 symptoms should be able to stay home from work and still get paid.
This will reduce spread of the virus and make sure workers get the support they need.
But they need about $400 billion in funding from Congress to make all of this happen.
It’s a lot, but I’m convinced we are ready to get this done.
The very health of our nation is at stake.
Our rescue plan also includes immediate relief for Americans hardest hit and most in need.
We will finish the job of getting a total of $2,000 in direct relief to people who need it the most.
$600 is simply not enough if you still have to choose between paying rent and putting food on the table.
Even for those who have kept their jobs these checks are really important.
You see, if you are an American worker making $40,000 a year with less than $400 in savings, maybe you’ve lost hours, or maybe you’re doing fewer shifts driving a truck, or caring for kids, or the elderly.
You’re out there putting your life on the line to work during this pandemic and worried every week that you’ll get sick, lose your job, or worse.
$2,000 is going to go a long way to ease that pain.
We will also provide more peace of mind for struggling families by extending unemployment insurance benefits for millions of workers.
That means that the 18 million Americans currently relying on unemployment benefits while they look for work can count on these checks continuing to be there. Plus, there will be a $400 per week supplement to help make ends meet.
This gets money quickly into the pockets of millions of Americans who will spend it immediately on food, rent, and other basic needs. That helps our whole economy grow.
We will also tackle the growing hunger crisis in America.
As I speak, and as Vice President-elect Harris has spoken about this many times, 1 in 7 households in America — more than 1 in 5 Black and Latino households in America – report that they do not have enough food to eat.
This includes 30 million adults and as many as 12 million children.
It’s wrong. It’s tragic. It’s unacceptable.
We will extend emergency nutrition assistance for 43 million children and families enrolled in the SNAP program through the rest of this year.
And we will help hard-hit restaurants prepare meals for the hungry and provide food for families who need it.
We will also invest $3 billion in making sure mothers and their young children have the nutrition they need.
This would not only meet our moral obligation we have to one another, but it would also spur our economy and get restaurant workers back on the job.
As we work to keep people from going hungry, we will also work to keep a roof over their heads to stem the growing housing crisis in America.
Approximately 14 million Americans have fallen behind on rent, many at risk of eviction.
If we don’t act now there will be a wave of evictions and foreclosures in the coming months as the pandemic rages on. This would overwhelm emergency shelters and increase COVID-19 infections as people have nowhere to go and can’t socially distance.
Next week we will take action to extend nationwide restrictions on evictions and foreclosures. This would provide more than 25 million Americans greater stability instead of living on the edge every single month.
And, I am asking Congress to do its part by funding rental assistance for 14 million hard-hit families and tenants. It will also be a bridge to economic recovery for countless mom and pop landlords.
These crises are straining the budgets of states, cities, and tribal communities that are forced to consider layoffs and service reductions. It means the people putting their lives at risk are the very people now at risk of losing their jobs.
Police officers. Firefighters. All first responders. Nurses. Educators. Over the last year, more than 600,000 education jobs have been lost in our cities and towns.
Our rescue plan will provide emergency funding to keep these essential workers on the job and maintain essential services. It will ensure that vaccines are administered and schools can re-open.
Vice President-elect Harris and I have been speaking with county officials, mayors, and governors of both parties on a regular basis. We are ready to work with them to help get the relief they need.
Our rescue plan will also help small businesses that are the engines of our economic growth and economy as a whole. They are the glue that holds communities together.
But they are hurting badly, and they account for nearly half of the entire U.S. workforce.
Our rescue plan will provide flexible grants to help the hardest hit small businesses survive the pandemic. And low-cost capital to help entrepreneurs of all backgrounds create and maintain jobs, plus provide the essential goods and services that communities depend on.
Last week, I laid out how we will make sure our emergency small business relief is distributed swiftly and equitably.
It will focus on small businesses on Main Street. It will focus on minority-owned small businesses and women-owned small businesses finally having equal access to the resources they need to reopen and rebuild. And, we will be responsible with taxpayer dollars ensuring accountability that reduces waste, fraud, or abuse like we did with the Recovery Act during the Obama-Biden Administration.
Direct cash payments. Extended unemployment insurance. Rent relief. Food assistance. Keeping essential frontline workers on the job. Aid to small businesses.
These are key elements of the American Rescue Plan that would lift 12 million Americans out of poverty and cut child poverty in half.
That’s 5 million children lifted out of poverty.
Our plan would reduce poverty in the Black community by one-third. It would reduce poverty in the Hispanic community by almost forty percent.
And it includes much more, like an increase of the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour. No one working 40 hours a week should still be below the poverty line.
It includes access to affordable child care that will enable parents, particularly women, to get back to work.
I look forward to working with members of Congress from both parties to move quickly to get the American Rescue Plan to the American people.
And then we can move with equal urgency and bipartisanship to my Build Back Better Recovery Plan that I will call for next month to generate even more economic growth.
American manufacturing was the arsenal of democracy in World War II. It will be so again. Imagine the future Made in America in all of America and all by Americans. We will use taxpayer dollars to rebuild America. We will buy American products and support millions of American manufacturing jobs and enhance our competitive strength in an increasingly competitive world.
Imagine historic investments in Research & Development to sharpen America’s innovative edge in markets where global leadership is up for grabs, markets like battery technology, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and clean energy.
Imagine confronting the climate crisis with American jobs and ingenuity leading the world.
It’s time to stop talking about infrastructure and finally start building it. Millions of good-paying jobs that put Americans to work rebuilding our roads, bridges, and ports to make them more climate resilient, to make it faster, cheaper, and cleaner to transport American-made goods across our country and around the world.
And, imagine millions of jobs in our caregiving economy to ease the financial burden of caring for young children and aging loved ones. Let’s make sure our caregivers, mostly women, women of color, and immigrants, have the pay and dignity they deserve.
We can do these bold, practical things now.
I know what I just described will not come cheaply. But failing to do so will cost us dearly. But the consensus among leading economists is we simply cannot afford not to do it.
Independent, respected institutions from around the world from the Federal Reserve to the International Monetary Fund have underscored the urgency. Even Wall Street firms have reinforced the logic.
If we invest now, boldly, smartly, and with an unwavering focus on American workers and families we will strengthen our economy, reduce inequity, and put our nation’s long term finances on a more sustainable course.
And where we are making permanent investments as I said on the campaign, we will pay for them by making sure that everyone pays their fair share in taxes.
We can do it without punishing anyone by closing tax loopholes for companies that ship American jobs overseas or that allow American companies to pay zero in federal income taxes.
Asking everyone to pay their fair share so we can make permanent investments to rescue and rebuild America is the right thing for our economy, it’s the fair thing and decent thing to do.
But we not only have an economic imperative to act now, we have a moral obligation.
In this pandemic, in America, we cannot let people go hungry.
We cannot let people get evicted.
We cannot watch nurses and educators and others lose their jobs.
We must act now and decisively.
My fellow Americans, the decisions we make in the next few weeks and months will determine whether we thrive in a way that benefits all Americans, or whether we stay stuck in a place where those at the top do great while economic growth for most everyone else is just a spectator sport — where America’s prospects dim, not brighten.
They will determine whether we reassert American leadership and out-compete our competitors in the global economy or whether we watch them catch up and pass us by.
Together I know we will choose a path that includes all Americans so we own the 21st Century.
But even with all of these bold steps,it will take time to get where we need to be. There will be stumbles. But I will always be honest with you about both the progress we’re making and the setbacks meet.
Here’s the deal — the more people we vaccinate, and the faster we do it, the sooner we can save lives put this pandemic behind us and get back to our lives and loved ones.
The sooner we can rescue and rebuild our economy.
I know it’s been nearly a year that’s tested us beyond measure.
For all of you who have lost someone my heart goes out to you. I know what it’s like to stare at the empty chair. For those who have fallen on hard times, I know you can never get back what you lost.
But as your president, I know that every day matters, and every person matters.
From the very first to the nearly 400,000 lost American souls and counting, and to the millions of you just looking for a fighting chance in this economy: I will not forget what you’re going through. We understand what you’re going through.
We will not give up.
We will come back together.
While we didn’t get into all of this overnight, we won’t get out of it overnight, and we can’t do it as a divided nation. The only way we come through this is together as fellow Americans and as the United States of America.
And when we do, there is nothing beyond our capacity.
Out of all the peril of this moment I want you to know, I see all the promise as well.
I remain as optimistic about America as I have ever been.
We look forward to these announcements by President-Elect Joe Biden of his nominees for his cabinet. Biden has provided soothing calm, hope for a better future from the painful chaos, dysfunction and outright sabotage that we have daily had to endure in the four horrid years of the Trump Dis-Administration. What a contrast: Biden has continued his pattern of hiring people with extraordinary expertise, achievements, and who notably reflect the American people in gender and background, and also notably are people who are first or second generation Americans and who come from modest means. But there is nothing modest about their achievements. Today, Biden introduced his Economic Team: his nominees for Secretary of Labor, most notably Boston’s mayor who comes from a union organizing background (cementing Biden’s promise to promote, not just tolerate union-organizing and his belief that the middle class is what made America and unions made the middle class); Commerce and Small Business Administration. The overriding themes: to “reward work, not wealth,” boost small businesses and entrepreneurs, invest in a clean economy and to give everyone an equal shot at the American Dream.
His team will enact COVID-19 relief to bolster small businesses, aid hardest hit industries, people who are unemployed for no fault of their own; raise the minimum wage to $15; reinstate worker protections; incentivize entrepreneurship and shift to a clean economy.
With these announcements, Biden said, he has finished naming his cabinet: “Twenty-four outstanding women and men who will get our country moving again, who will restore trust in our government again, and who are ready to go on Day One. This is a Cabinet that looks like America.”
Here are highlighted remarks of Biden and his nominees: –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Today, I am pleased to announce the latest members of our economic team.
And with their announcements, I am proud to announce that we have finished naming our Cabinet.
Twenty-four outstanding women and men who will get our country moving again, who will restore trust in our government again, and who are ready to go on Day One.
This is a Cabinet that looks like America.
That taps into the full range of talents we have in our nation.
And a historic Cabinet.
This will be the first Cabinet ever that is evenly composed of women and men.
It will be the first Cabinet ever with a majority of people of color.
It has more than a dozen history-making appointments, including the first woman Treasury Secretary, the first African American Defense Secretary, the first openly gay Cabinet member, the first Native American Cabinet secretary.
We are also on track to name a record 50 high-level appointees subject to Senate confirmation before Inauguration Day.
More than any President-elect ever.
I have done my job.
It is my hope and expectation that the Senate will confirm these nominees promptly and fairly.
That’s especially the case for nominees for Secretaries of State, Defense, Treasury, and Homeland Security who I nominated back in November.
Given what our country has been through the last four years and the last few days, and given the threats and risks in this world, they should be confirmed as close to January 20th as possible. There should be no vacancies at State, Defense, Treasury, and Homeland Security.
And as we remain in this dark winter of the pandemic, and with an economic crisis that’s deepened, we have no time to lose on the entire team.
Consider the December jobs report released today.
The anxiety and fear of the women and men out there reminds me of when President Obama and I were sworn in during the Great Recession in 2009.
This December jobs report shows millions of Americans are still hurting through no fault of their own.
We lost 140,000 jobs — the first negative jobs report since the height of the pandemic in the spring.
More people have just lost a job while many have been out of work for a long time.
The ongoing gap in Black and Latino unemployment remains much too large.
And in many ways, the jobs report is a pandemic report.
With the pandemic raging, people are losing work and losing hope.
The hospitality industry, restaurants and bars, lost more than 372,000 jobs.
State and local governments are slashing jobs — 20,000 local educators lost their jobs last month.
In the midst of this pandemic, there are millions of people out of work and unable to pay rent or the mortgage.
They’re waiting in line for hours at a food bank. In the United States of America, people are waiting miles in their cars waiting for a meal.
And they’re left staring at the ceiling at night, unable to sleep, wondering if they will ever be okay.
The bottom line is the jobs report shows we need to provide more immediate relief for working families and businesses now.
Not just to help them get to the other side of this painful crisis, but to avoid the broader economic costs due to long-term unemployment, hunger, homelessness, and businesses failing.
And by acting now, the vast majority of leading economists suggest this is what the economy needs.
In fact, economic research confirms that with conditions like today’s crisis, especially with such low interest rates, taking immediate action, even with deficit financing, will help the economy, reduce scarring in the workforce, increase growth, and reduce our national debt burden.
As I’ve said before, the bipartisan COVID relief package passed in December is an important step, but just a downpayment.
Next week, I will be laying out the groundwork for the next COVID economic relief package that meets this critical moment for our economy and country.
For example, the vaccines give us hope, but their rollout has been a travesty.
This will be the greatest operational challenge we have ever faced, and we’re going to need billions of dollars to get the vaccines from a vial and into the arms of millions of Americans.
We’re also going to need tens of billions of dollars to help reopen our schools safely.
State, local, and tribal communities need tens of billions of dollars to keep educators, police officers, firefighters, and other first responders and public health workers on the job.
We need more direct relief flowing to families and small businesses, including finishing the job and getting people $2,000 in relief. $600 is simply not enough when you have to choose between paying rent or putting food on the table and keeping the lights on.
I also hope that Democratic control of the House and Senate will raise the odds of prompt action on increasing the minimum wage.
I’ve long said that we need to reward work, not wealth in this country.
People in both parties now recognize it’s time to raise the minimum wage so hardworking people earn at least $15 an hour.
No one who works 40 hours a week in America should still live below the poverty line.
They are entitled to a minimum of $15 an hour.
A big focus will also be on small businesses and how to correct the current Administration’s failures to get relief to Main Street small businesses that are most in need.
Mom and pop stores are the backbone of our economy.
They are the glue that holds communities together.
But today, more than 1 in 4 small businesses are not open.
At least 400,000 are closed for good.
As of a month ago, a third of Black-owned businesses, more than a fifth of Latino-owned businesses, and more than a quarter of Native American-owned businesses have less than a month of reserves to cover expenses.
The previous rounds of economic relief last year helped millions of small businesses stay afloat and keep employees on the payroll.
But there were clear problems.
Black and Brown-owned small businesses had less access to the relief.
Mom and pop shops were often last in line, while big, well-connected businesses jumped in front of the line and got more relief and got it faster.
And at every turn, the Trump Administration has undermined accountability for every tax dollar spent, weakening oversight and routinely firing Inspectors General.
So it’s no surprise that an independent watchdog found that tens of thousands of ineligible companies received relief they shouldn’t have, including from fraud and abuse that siphoned off support for the very businesses most in need.
The good news is that the relief package passed last month provides additional aid to small businesses and workers. But as I have said from the beginning, we need to make sure that relief and future relief reaches everyone who needs it.
These relief dollars will start to flow quickly, potentially while the current Administration is still in office. And they may send out money that we won’t have any control over.
But for what we do have control over, I want to be clear about my priorities for distributing this emergency aid swiftly and equitably.
Our focus will be on the small businesses on Main Street that aren’t wealthy and well-connected and that are facing real economic hardships through no fault of their own.
Our priority will be on Black, Latino, Asian, and Native American-owned small businesses, and women-owned businesses, finally having equal access to the resources needed to reopen and rebuild.
We will make a concerted effort to help small businesses in low-income communities, in big cities, small towns, and rural communities that have faced systemic barriers to relief.
Think of the mom and pop owner with a couple of employees who can’t just pick up a phone and call a banker, or who doesn’t have lawyers and accountants to help them through the complicated rules to know if they even qualify, or who simply didn’t know there was even relief available in the first place.
And as we saw in this morning’s jobs report, restaurants, bars, and the hospitality industry have been slammed by the virus. We will direct relief to these businesses and others that have been hit hardest. We owe them that support to help them get through the other side of this crisis.
And I promise you, we will investigate and prosecute waste and fraud in these programs so that money goes to companies that deserve it and will use it to help their employees and communities.
When I implemented the Recovery Act, we invested more than $800 billion to help our economy recover and rebuild with less than two-tenths of one percent of waste, fraud, and abuse.
We know how to do this.
We know how important predictability and clarity are to small businesses.
From day one, our Administration will work to ensure that small businesses and financial institutions in every community understand the rules for these programs, the resources available to them, and where they can turn for technical assistance if they need it.
We will have navigators to help guide them through each step of the process until the money they need is in their bank account.
And to the lenders participating in these programs, you should move quickly without delay to begin extending relief. But I urge you to not disburse these funds in the same old, inequitable ways.
Here’s my commitment in return — we will make our expectations of you crystal clear so that you can quickly and equitably deliver relief to the communities you serve, unlike what has been happening during this crisis
The bottom line is we are in the midst of the most unequal economic and jobs crisis in modern history.
Congress needs to act as quickly as possible on all of the issues I just laid out.
That is how we can contain the pandemic and build back better with an economy that works for all Americans.
And this is the team that will help get it done.
For Secretary of Commerce, I nominate Governor Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island.
A daughter of a working-class family who knows what it’s like when a parent’s factory job is shipped overseas.
She never took her parents’ sacrifices for granted.
Always remembers where she came from.
She became a successful entrepreneur who created jobs on Main Street and brought businesses back from the edge.
She became a state Treasurer who invested in local communities and took on financial predators.
And today, she is one of the most effective and forward-thinking governors in the United States of America — the first woman ever to lead the Ocean State.
She’s created an innovative loan program that’s helped minority-owned and women-owned businesses access the capital they need but wasn’t always available to them.
She’s worked with employers to design skills-training programs so that local workers would be equipped to take on good-paying jobs in their own communities.
She has put Rhode Island on a path of achieving 100% renewable energy, and she will be a key player in helping position the United States as the global leader in the 21st Century clean energy economy.
And she knows what her fellow governors, Democrats and Republicans alike, are dealing with on the frontlines of the pandemic and economic crises and how we can all partner together as one nation to contain COVID-19 and build back better.
I’m honored she is joining the team.
In her remarks, Raimondi said, “We invested in our people — in their skills, their opportunities, and their dreams. We helped new businesses launch and sparked others to hire and grow responsibly. That’s the same vision, the same faith in American workers and entrepreneurs that I see in the Build Back Better agenda.
“It’s a vision for an inclusive recovery that lifts up those who have been left behind. It’s a vision for a national effort that provides skills, training, and wraparound supports to get Americans back to work. It’s a vision for rebuilding American manufacturing and bringing back jobs that have gone overseas.”
For Secretary of Labor, I nominate Mayor Marty Walsh of Boston.
Son of Irish immigrants from County Galway.
They moved to Boston.
Marty was born and raised in Dorchester.
I know him. Tough as nails.
Diagnosed with cancer at age 7, beat it at age 11.
Joined the Laborers Union Local 223 at age 21.
Elected to the state legislature.
Became union president.
Then graduated from college at age 42.
He is now in his second term as the successful mayor of an iconic American city, and who always puts working people first.
Fighting for a $15 minimum wage and paid family leave.
Providing frontline workers with emergency child care and the protective equipment they need.
Marty understands like I do that the middle class built this country and unions built the middle class.
He’s seen how union workers have been holding this country together during this crisis.
Health care workers keeping our hospitals safe, clean, and effective.
Public service workers fighting against budget shortfalls to keep communities afloat.
Port workers, car haulers, warehouse workers, and folks keeping our air and rail systems running.
They are literally what’s keeping us going.
And they deserve a Secretary of Labor who knows how to build their power as workers.
Who knows that when I say our future will be made in America, it will be a future built by American workers.
A future with historic investments in infrastructure, clean energy, manufacturing, and so much more that will create millions of good-paying union jobs.
Marty knows worker power means not just protecting the right to unionize but encouraging unionization and collective bargaining.
It means protecting pensions.
Ensuring worker safety.
Increasing the minimum wage.
Ensuring workers are paid for the overtime they earned, like we fought to do in the Obama-Biden Administration, but this Administration weakened.
And making sure that we have a trade policy where for every decision we make, unions are at the table, focused on winning good jobs for American workers.
This is one of the most important departments to me.
I trust Mayor Walsh, and I’m honored he accepted.
But I also want to say that I did give serious consideration to nominating my friend Senator Bernie Sanders to this position. I’m confident he could’ve done a fantastic job.
I can think of no more passionate and devoted ally of working people in this country.
But after Tuesday’s result in Georgia, giving Democrats control of the Senate on a tied vote, Bernie and I agreed that we cannot put control of the Senate at risk on the outcome of a special election in Vermont.
He agreed we couldn’t take that chance.
But we also discussed how we would work together, travel the country, helping Marty, and meet with the working men and women who feel forgotten and left behind in the economy.
And we agreed that we will work closely on our shared agenda to increase worker power and protect the dignity of work for all working people.
I thank Bernie for his continued friendship and leadership and I look forward to us working together along with Marty.
Mayor Walsh said, “Now we have the opportunity to put power back into the hands of working people. And that is a good thing for our economy and our country.
“We can defend workers’ rights. We can strengthen collective bargaining. We can grow union membership. And we can create millions of good-paying jobs with investments in infrastructure, clean energy, high-tech manufacturing — along with the workforce training to help people get those good jobs.”
For Administrator of the Small Business Administration, I nominate Isabel Guzman.
She grew up in California, working alongside her father in the small veterinary businesses he built.
She developed an early understanding of what small businesses mean to their employees, the neighborhoods they support, and the families whose dreams they represent.
She dedicated her career to creating jobs and supporting entrepreneurs as a senior official in the Obama-Biden Small Business Administration.
As the Director of California’s Office of the Small Business Advocate, she works tirelessly to ensure that everyone with an entrepreneurial spark has a fair and equal shot to get off the ground and succeed.
The Biden-Harris Administration will be locked in on helping small businesses recover, rebuild, and remain the engines of our economy.
And as head of the SBA, Isabel will be leading that critical mission to not only rescue small businesses in crisis, but to provide the capital to entrepreneurs across the country so they can innovate, create jobs, and help lead us into recovery.
I am grateful that she has accepted this call to serve.
Guzman in her remarks, said, “All of our small businesses are critical to our collective success as a nation. Their American dreams fuel our economy, bring new ideas to transform our lives for the better, and enliven every main street in America. And now more than ever, our small businesses need us.
“I share your commitment to help strengthen the many small business owners who have seen their dreams and livelihoods impacted by COVID-19. And to create opportunities and instill greater equity for all of the new startups that will lead us to recovery. “
For Deputy Commerce Secretary, I nominate a good and loyal friend, Don Graves.
Don is a longtime trusted advisor.
He was there at the Treasury Department during the depths of the Great Recession, helping small businesses weather the storm and stay afloat.
When President Obama asked me to lead the effort to get Detroit out of bankruptcy and off its back he said I could take anyone in the Administration. So, I went to the Treasury Department and asked for Don to come over and work on it full-time.
It was the best decision we made in that effort. He did a great job working with city and state officials on its road to recovery. It’s about the small details like the number of buses and street lights that are needed.
He also helped me lead our national strategy to equip our workers with the skills they need for the good-paying jobs of the 21st Century, in health care, IT, clean energy, advanced manufacturing, and more.
And he was there to help me launch the National Cancer Moonshot and marshal the full resources of the federal government to help end cancer as we know it.
A cancer survivor himself, diagnosed and treated while he was working for me, Don knows about hope and resilience.
I’m grateful to him and his wonderful family for answering the call to serve once again.
Graves laid out the standard for Biden’s economic team: “To revive the economy through the pandemic and build it back better. To advance racial equity across the board and to meet the existential threat of climate change with American jobs and ingenuity.
“With your leadership, I know this Administration will provide the American people the support they need to thrive, and the opportunity to turn their hopes into lives of dignity and respect they deserve.”
The reactions could not be more stark between the ignorant, self-serving do-nothing response of Trump who is obsessively focused on overturning the free-and-fair election that deposed him (and pardoning criminal allies and family members), and the thoughtful, insightful, methodical focus of President-Elect Joe Biden on how to combat both the coronavirus crisis and the related jobs crisis. Biden’s remarks come in response to November’s jobs report that, even before the massive skyrocketing in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths across the nation, showed a disturbing slowdown in economic recovery, with only 245,000 jobs added when well over 400,000 were expected, and an unemployment rate, which while dipping to 6.7%, does not reflect the 4 million people who have dropped out of the workforce and aren’t looking for jobs. The truer unemployment rate would be over 8%. Biden, in his remarks, was optimistic about a spurt of bi-partisanship that may produce a $900 billion COVID relief package, but says that is only a “downpayment” – an emergency relief to keep people from losing their homes and the ability to feed their family – on what will be necessary.
Already, the failure of Republicans to allocate aid to states and localities has resulted in 1 million layoffs of critical workers, with many more teachers, firefighters and hospital workers who will lose their jobs when they are most needed. Moreover, though the administration is touting the near availability of a COVID-19 vaccine, it has failed to actually contemplate how to distribute it, administer shots, or who will pay for the health workers to administer the vaccinations to the general public. (Reminder, you need 70 percent of the population to get the vaccinations in order to even begin to have “herd immunity” to end the pandemic.) But actually sparking the economy again will require real stimulus spending, for much needed and neglected infrastructure. Here are President-Elect Biden’s remarks, as prepared for delivery in Wilmington, Delaware: –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Earlier today, the November jobs report was released.
It’s a grim report. It shows an economy that is stalling.
We remain in the midst of one of the worst economic and jobs crises in modern history.
But it doesn’t have to stay that way.
If we act now, we can regain momentum and start to build for the future. There is no time to lose.
Millions of people have lost their jobs or had their hours slashed. They’ve lost their health insurance or are in danger of losing it. One in every six renters was behind on rent. One in four small businesses can’t keep their doors open. An ongoing gap in Black and Latino unemployment remains too large.
And it’s deeply troubling that last month’s drop in overall unemployment was driven by people dropping out of the labor market altogether. They’ve lost hope for finding a job, or they’ve taken on full-time caregiving responsibilities as child care centers remain closed and their children learn remotely.
Over the last three months, 2.3 million more people are in long-term unemployment — by far the largest increase on record.
And this dire jobs report is a snapshot from mid-November before the surge in COVID cases and deaths in December as we head into a dark winter.
For example, since October, cities are down 21,000 educators — just as schools need more help in the fight against the pandemic.
A couple of days ago I spoke with a school crossing guard, a server, a restaurant owner, and a stagehand. Good people, honorable people — decent Americans from across the country.
They remind me of my Dad who lost his job in Scranton and eventually moved our family to Claymont, Delaware, just outside of Wilmington.
He used to say, “Joey, I don’t expect the government to solve my problems. But I expect it to understand my problems.”
The folks out there aren’t looking for a handout. They just need help. They’re in trouble through no fault of their own. They need us to understand.
We are in crisis. We need to come together as a nation.
And we need Congress to act — and act now.
If Congress and President Trump fail to act by the end of December, 12 million Americans will lose the unemployment benefits they rely on to keep food on the table and pay their bills.
Emergency paid leave will end. The moratorium on evictions will expire. States will lose the vital tools they need to pay for COVID testing and public health workers.
It will be harder for states to keep children and educators safe in schools and to provide assistance to keep small businesses alive.
States and cities are already facing large budget shortfalls this year.
They have already laid off more than a million workers — and even more teachers. Firefighters and cops will lose their jobs unless the federal government steps up now. And all of this weakens our ability to control the virus.
Emergency paid leave reduces the spread of COVID, because it allows people to stay home when they are sick.
States and cities need funding to direct COVID response — which is the only way we can end this crisis and get people back to work.
The situation is urgent. If we don’t act now, the future will be bleak.
Americans need help and they need it now, and they’ll need more come early next year.
I am encouraged by the bipartisan efforts in the Senate around a $900 billion package of relief.
And as Congress works out the details of the relief package, we must focus on resources for the direct public health response to COVID-19.
We need meaningful funding for vaccines now so that we don’t lose time and leave people waiting for additional months.
We need serious funding for testing now so we can ramp up testing and allow our schools and businesses to operate safely.
The sooner we pass this funding, the sooner we can turn the corner on COVID-19.
In the weeks since the election ended, there were questions about whether Democrats and Republicans could work together.
Right now, they are showing they can. Congress and President Trump must get a deal done for the American people.
But any package passed in the lame duck session is not enough. It’s just the start.
Congress will need to act again in January.
Earlier today, I consulted with members of the economic team Vice President-elect Harris and I announced this week.
As we inherit the public health and economic crises, we are working on the plan that we will put forward for the next Congress — to move fast, to control the pandemic, to revive the economy, and to build back better than before.
We hope to see the same kind of spirit — of bipartisan cooperation —as we are seeing today.
And our plan is based on input from a broad range of people who Vice President-elect Harris and I have been meeting with since winning the election last month.
Labor leaders, CEOs, Mayors and Governors of both parties. Parents, educators, workers, and small business owners.
There is consensus that, as we battle COVID-19, we have to make sure that businesses and workers have the tools, resources, guidance, and health and safety standards to keep businesses and schools open safely.
Because here’s the deal:
The fight against COVID won’t be won in January alone.
To truly end this crisis, Congress will need to fund more testing as well as the equitable and free distribution of the vaccine.
We’ll need more economic relief as a bridge through 2021 until both the pandemic and economic crises are over.
And, then we’ll need to build back better. An independent analysis by Moody’s — a well-respected Wall Street firm — projects my Build Back Better plan will create 18.6 million jobs.
It’s based on a simple premise: reward work in America — not wealth.
We will invest in infrastructure, clean energy, manufacturing, and so much more.
This will create millions of good-paying American jobs and get the job market back on the path toward full employment. This will raise incomes, reduce drug prices, advance racial equity across the economy, and restore the backbone of this country, the middle class.
Bottom line, it’s essential that we provide immediate relief for working families and businesses.
Not just to help them get to the other side of this painful crisis, but to avoid the broader economic costs due to long-term unemployment and businesses failing.
And by acting now, even with deficit financing, we can add to growth in the near future.
In fact, economic research shows that with conditions like today’s crisis — especially with such low interest rates — not taking the actions I’m proposing, will hurt the economy, scar the workforce, reduce growth, and add to the national debt.
I know times are tough, the challenges are daunting, but I know we can do this.
We can create an economic recovery for all. We can move from crisis to recovery to resurgence.
This is the United States of America. We’ve done it before. We will do it again.
May God bless America. May God protect our troops.
President-Elect Joe Biden introduced his economic team on Tuesday, December 1, at a ceremony in Wilmington, Delaware. Their personal stories are significant, and such a contrast to the grafters, foreclosure millionaires, and partisans of the Trump Administration working on behalf of donors and special interests instead of the American people. Biden’s team, besides having extraordinary expertise and experience, also bring the life-lessons and background to infuse a budget and economic policies with values. The ultimate goal: to revitalize the economy in such a way as to redress systemic inequalities, environmental unsustainability, summed up in the phrase, “Build Back Better.” There is the recognition, too, that addressing the epidemic of poverty, hunger and evictions is tied to addressing and eradicating the coronavirus pandemic and overall health care and public health. Here are remarks, highlighted:
I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving even if it was far from tradition and apart from the ones we love.
I know times are tough, but I want you to know that help is on the way.
Last week, I announced nominations and staff for critical foreign policy and national security positions. A first-rate team that will keep us safe and secure.
Today, I am pleased to announce key nominations and appointments for critical economic positions in the Administration. A first-rate team that will get us through the on-going economic crisis and help us build our economy back better than before.
This team is tested and experienced.
It includes groundbreaking Americans who come from different backgrounds, but share my core economic vision.
That given a fair shot and equal chance, there’s nothing beyond the capacity of the American people.
Let’s not forget that the middle class built this country and unions built the middle class.
And from the most unequal economic and jobs crisis in modern history, we can build a new American economy that works for all Americans.
But we need to act now. And we have to work together.
In the weeks since winning the election, Vice President-elect Harris and I have convened meetings with labor leaders and CEOs and Mayors and Governors of both parties.
There is consensus that, as we battle COVID-19, we have to make sure that businesses and workers have the tools, resources, guidance, and health and safety standards to operate safely.
Our goal is simple: to keep businesses and schools open safely.
For the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs — or hours — and have had to claim unemployment, we have to deliver them immediate relief.
This includes affordable health care for millions of people who have lost it or are in danger of losing it.
Child care, sick leave, family leave, so workers don’t have to choose between work and family.
Relief from rent and student loans.
We need to support small businesses and entrepreneurs that form the backbone of our communities but are teetering on the edge.
There’s an urgent need to fund states and cities, so they can keep frontline workers on the job.
We must keep vital public services running — law enforcement officers, firefighters, educators — as we did with the Recovery Act in 2009.
Right now, the full Congress should come together and pass a robust package of relief that addresses these urgent needs.
But any package passed in the lame duck session is likely to be — at best — just the start.
My transition team is already working on what I will put forward for the next Congress to address the multiple crises we are facing — especially our economic and COVID crises.
And the team I’m announcing today will play a critical role in shaping our plan for action — starting on Day One — to move fast and revive the economy.
They will help lay out my Build Back Better plan; a plan that an independent analysis by Moody’s — a well-respected Wall Street firm — projects will create 18.6 million jobs.
It’s based on a simple premise: reward hard work in America — not wealth.
It’s time we invest in infrastructure, clean energy and climate change, manufacturing, and so much more that will create millions of good paying American jobs.
And it’s time we address the structural inequalities in our economy that the pandemic has laid bare.
Economists call the current recovery “K-shaped.”
Like the two lines coming out of a K, some people are seeing their prospects soar up while most others are watching their economic well-being drop sharply.
For those at the top, jobs have come back and their wealth is rising.
For example, luxury home sales are up over 40 percent compared to last year.
But for those in the middle and the bottom, it’s a downward slide. They’re left figuring out how to pay bills and put food on the table.
Almost one in every six renters was behind on rent payments as of late October.
Let me be clear, with this team and the others who we will add in the weeks ahead, we will create a recovery for all and get this economy moving again.
We will create jobs, raise incomes, reduce drug prices, advance racial equity across the economy, and restore the backbone of this country — the middle class.
Our message to everyone struggling right now is this — help is on the way.
After my Dad lost his job in Scranton, Pennsylvania -and eventually moved the family not far from here in Claymont, Delaware, he’d say, “Joey, a job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about dignity. Respect. Your place in the community. It’s about being able to look your kid in the eye and say that everything will be okay.”
He also used to say, “Joey, I don’t expect the government to solve my problems. But I expect it to understand my problems.”
This team understands.
For Secretary of the Treasury, I nominate Janet Yellen.
No one is better prepared for this crisis.
She will be the first Treasury Secretary who was also Chair of the Federal Reserve, Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve, and Chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors.
Janet is one of the most important economic thinkers of our time.
She has spent her career focused on employment and the dignity of work. She understands what a job means to people and their communities.
Respected across party lines and around the world, by Main Street and Wall Street. An educator, a mentor.
Above all — the daughter of a working-class Brooklyn neighborhood who never forgot where she came from.
Her husband, George, is pretty good too. He is a Nobel Prize recipient, but he’s the one who married up.
Janet will be the first woman to hold this office.
We might have to ask Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote a musical about the first Treasury Secretary, Hamilton, to write another musical for the first woman Treasury Secretary, Yellen.
For Director of the Office and Management and Budget, I nominate Neera Tanden.
I’ve known Neera for a long time. A brilliant policy mind with critical practical experience across government.
She was raised by a single mom on food stamps, an immigrant from India who struggled, worked hard, and did everything she could for her daughter to live out her American dream.
And Neera did just that.
She understands the struggles that millions of Americans are facing.
And she will be the first woman of color and first South Asian American to lead the OMB.
She will be in charge of laying out my budget that will help us control the virus, deal with the economic crisis, and build back better.
But above all, she believes what I believe — a budget should reflect our values.
For Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, I nominate Wally Adeyemo.
A skilled leader and thinker on issues ranging from macroeconomics to consumer protection, and from national security to international affairs.
I worked with Wally during the Great Recession, and I saw him tackle one big job after another.
Deputy National Security Advisor to President Obama. Deputy Director of the National Economic Council. Former Chief of Staff to Elizabeth Warren, where he helped create the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau.
It’s designed to protect consumers and working people from unfair, deceptive, and abusive financial practices.
And now, Wally will be the first African American ever to hold this post, and the highest-ranking African American in Treasury Department history.
An immigrant from Nigeria, a son of a nurse and an elementary school principal, Wally understands everything we do is for the people.
To understand their struggles, and most of all, their dreams.
For Chairperson of the Council of Economic Advisors, I nominate Cecilia “CC” Rouse, one of the most distinguished economists in the country.
An expert on labor economics, race, poverty, and education.
Dean of Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs. Member of the Council of Economic Advisors to President Obama. Advisor to President Clinton at the National Economic Council.
More than that, she’s a proud daughter, whose mom — a school psychologist — encouraged her to pursue economics, whose dad — one of the country’s first African American astrophysicists — who dared her to dream.
If confirmed, CC will be just the fourth woman to lead the Council of Economic Advisors and the first African-American ever to hold the post.
And as CEA Chair, she will serve as a member of my Cabinet.
As a member of the Council of Economic Advisors, I appoint Jared Bernstein.
A brilliant thinker with a quick wit — and a big heart he got from his mom — an educator — who raised him right.
A social worker turned economist, Jared is one of my closest economic advisors.
He served as my Chief Economist during my Vice Presidency.
He was there in the foxhole during the Great Recession with the economy on the brink and our country on its back.
I couldn’t think of anyone else who I would want by my side to face the challenges ahead.
Jared will be one of the leading voices of my Administration on economic policy.
I can always count on him to deliver it straight from the shoulder as his hero FDR said.
One thing I can assure you is working people will always have a voice with Jared on the Council.
As a member of the Council of Economic Advisors, I appoint Heather Boushey.
She is one of the foremost economists working to make sure we build an economy that works for all Americans.
A daughter of a union family — it’s no wonder she believes so deeply in the idea: leave no one out, leave no one behind.
During the campaign, I relied on her counsel on addressing the structural inequalities in our economy.
I’ll do so again as President because it is a central issue of our time.
To this team — thank you for accepting the call to serve.
To your families — thank you for your sacrifice. We could not do this without you.
And to the American people, this team will always be there for you and your families.
Eleven years ago President Obama and I entered office during the Great Recession and implemented the Recovery Act that saved us from a Great Depression.
We didn’t see the map of America in terms of blue states and red states. We only saw the United States of America.
We worked with everyone — for everyone.
And we recovered and rebuilt — together — as one nation.
Vice President-elect Harris and I will do it again with this outstanding team.
They are ready on Day One.
To the United States Senate — I hope these outstanding nominees will receive a prompt hearing, and that we will be able to work across the aisle in good faith and move forward as one country.
Let us begin the work to heal, unite, and rebuild an economy for all Americans.
They deserve and expect nothing less.
May God bless you.
May God protect our troops.
I’ll now turn it over to the new team, starting with our next Secretary of the Treasury — Janet Yellen.
Nominee for Secretary of Treasury, Janet Yellen
Thank you, Mr. President-elect and Madame Vice President-elect.
It is my great honor to have this opportunity to serve you and the American people, and to join this incredible economic team at this moment of great challenge for our country.
Mr. President-elect, when you reflect on what your father taught you about how a job is much more than a paycheck, I hear my own father, who raised our family in working-class Brooklyn.
When he graduated from medical school during the Great Depression, he looked for a home and a place to hang his shingle near the Brooklyn docks. Back then, Bush Terminal on the Upper New York Bay was a thriving hub for manufacturing and transportation — and for the union workers whose livelihoods depended on them.
Knowing they didn’t have cars, my father found a home near a bus line. He started his family practice in the basement while we lived on the floors above. At the end of the day, he would talk to me, my brother, and my mom about what work meant to his patients — our friends and neighbors — especially if they lost a job. The financial problems. The family problems. The health problems. The loss of dignity and self-worth.
The value of work always stuck with me, so much so that I became an economist because I was concerned about the toll of unemployment on people, families, and communities. And I’ve spent my career trying to make sure people can work and achieve the dignity and self-worth that comes with it.
Mr. President-elect, I know you’ve done the same. I saw that understanding during the last Great Recession and the Recovery Act that followed.
And now we are facing historic crises again. The pandemic and economic fallout that, together, have caused so much damage for so many and have had a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable among us. Lost lives. Lost jobs. Small businesses struggling to stay alive or closed for good. So many people struggling to put food on the table and pay bills and rent.
It’s an American tragedy. And it’s essential that we move with urgency. Inaction will produce a self-reinforcing downturn causing yet more devastation.
And we risk missing the obligation to address deeper structural problems:
Inequality. Stagnant wages, especially for workers who lack a college education. Communities that have seen industry disappear, with no good jobs replacing lost ones. Racial disparities in pay, job opportunities, housing, food security, and small business lending that deny wealth building to so many communities of color. Gender disparities that keep women out of the workforce and keep our economy from running at full force.
It is a convergence of tragedies that is not only economically unsustainable, but one that betrays our commitment to giving every American an equal chance to get ahead.
But I know this team will never give up that commitment. As you have said before, Mr. President-elect, out of our collective pain as a nation, we will find a collective purpose to control the pandemic, and build our economy back better than before.
To rebuild our infrastructure and create better jobs. To invest in our workforce. To advance racial equity and make sure the economic recovery includes everyone. To address the climate crisis with American ingenuity and American jobs.
Working together with the outstanding national security and foreign policy team you announced last week, to help restore America’s global leadership.
And above all, we share your belief in the American dream — of a society where each person, with effort, can rise to their potential, and dream even bigger for their children.
I pledge, as Treasury Secretary, to work every day towards rebuilding that dream for all Americans.
And to the great public servants of the Treasury Department, I look forward to working with you and Wally to rebuild the public trust.
To the American people, we will be an institution that wakes up every morning thinking about you.
Your jobs, your paychecks. Your struggles, your hopes. Your dignity.
Nominee for OMB Director, Neera Tanden
Mr. President-elect, Madame Vice President-elect — I’m humbled and honored by the trust you’ve placed in me to work with this talented team on behalf of the American people.
I’m especially proud to work alongside leaders who understand that budgets are not abstractions.
They are a reflection of our values. They touch our lives in profound ways. Sometimes, they make all the difference.
Like the Vice President-elect’s mother, Shyamala, my mother, Maya, was born in India.
Like so many millions, across every generation, she came to America to pursue a better life.
I was raised in a suburb of Boston — a middle-class kid.
But when I was five, my parents got divorced and my mom was left on her own with two children — and without a job.
She faced a choice — return to India, where at the time divorce was stigmatized and opportunity would be limited — or keep fighting for her American Dream.
She stayed, and America came through for her when times were tough.
We relied on food stamps to eat. We relied on Section 8 vouchers to pay the rent. We relied on the social safety net to get back on our feet.
This country gave her a fair shot to reach for the middle class and she made it work.
She got a job as a travel agent, and before long, she was able to buy us our own home in Bedford, Massachusetts, and see her children off to college, and beyond.
I’m here today thanks to my mother’s grit, but also thanks to a country that had faith in us, that invested in her humanity, and in our dreams.
I’m here today because of social programs. Because of budgetary choices.
Because of a government that saw my mother’s dignity, and gave her a chance.
Now, it’s my honor to help shape those budgets and programs to keep lifting Americans up, to pull families back from the brink. To give everybody the fair chance my mother got, and that everyone deserves.
That’s the America Maya and Shyamala were drawn to — the America the President-elect and Vice President-elect are ready to grow.
I believe so strongly that our government is meant to serve all the American people — Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike, all of whom deserve to know that their government has their back.
I look forward to working together alongside the dedicated career professionals at OMB to expand those possibilities for every American family.
And I want to thank my own wonderful family — my husband, Ben, without whose love and support I would simply not be here, and our children, Alina and Jaden.
Thank you all for this profound opportunity to serve.
Nominee for Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, Wally Adeyemo
Mr. President-elect, Madame Vice President-elect — thank you for this opportunity to return to the Treasury Department and serve the American people.
I know firsthand the President-elect’s capacity to lift our country out of hard times, because I had the privilege of working with him to help Americans recover from the Great Recession.
In California’s Inland Empire, where I‘d grown up in a working-class neighborhood, the Great Recession hit us hard — we were one of the foreclosure capitals in the United States.
The pain of this was real for me — it wasn’t just a number in a jobs report or a story on the nightly news — but neighbors and friends who lost everything.
I was proud of the work my teams did at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Treasury Department to help turn the tide.
I was prouder still to serve with leaders like the President-elect, who oversaw the Recovery Act’s implementation — investing in American workers, betting on their resilience and drive, and giving families a chance to get up off the mat.
I believe that’s what public service is all about at its best: Giving people a fair shot when they need it most, offering hope through the dark times, and making sure that our economy works not just for the wealthy, but for the hard-working people who make it run.
Those are lessons I learned from my parents — an elementary school principal and a nurse, who came to America to build a better life for me and my siblings.
They taught us that we have a responsibility to serve our community and the country that gave us so many opportunities, but I also learned early on how much more needs to be done to ensure that everyone has the fair chance they deserve.
I look forward to working with Janet Yellen to reduce inequality in this country and expand the middle class, and make sure we build an economy that works for everyone.
As we build back better, we must also remain laser-focused on the Treasury Department’s critical role protecting our National Security.
This includes using our sanctions regime to hold bad actors accountable, dismantling the financial networks of terrorist organizations and others who seek to do us harm, and ensuring our foreign investment policy protects America’s national security interests.
The challenges before us today are unlike anything we have ever faced.
But I know that what the President-elect so often reminds us is true — the American people can do anything when given a chance.
I’m honored to be a part of this talented team, to get to work with them and all Americans, to build an economy that gives everyone that chance, and turns our nation once again from crisis to hope.
Nominee for CEA Chair, Cecilia Rouse
Mr. President-elect, Madame Vice President-elect — thank you for the extraordinary opportunity to join this team.
I am humbled and honored, and ready to get to work for the American people.
To be perfectly honest, until recently I did not anticipate that I would return to public service.
As every academic knows, when you’ve laid down roots at a school you love, with incredible students and colleagues you’ve grown with, it isn’t easy to take a leave. It requires a rare combination of urgency and opportunity to pull you away.
But that rare combination is precisely what our nation is facing right now.
My path as an economist began in my first year of college — my mother, a school psychologist, encouraged me to take a course in economics, and it happened to coincide with what at the time was one of the worst spikes in unemployment since the Great Depression.
It was impossible to separate what we were learning in the classroom from what I knew was going on in towns across the country, and I found myself drawn to study the labor market in all of its dimensions — the reasons that jobs disappear; the impact of education on people’s job prospects; the ways we can tear down barriers to job growth and make it easier for people to find long-lasting economic security.
Today, nearly forty years later, we are once again living through one of the worst jobs crises since the Great Depression.
Millions of families have had their lives turned upside down. The safety net has frayed, leaving vulnerable Americans to slip through into hardship and hopelessness, and structural inequities that have always existed in our economy are being exacerbated like never before.
This is a moment of urgency and opportunity unlike anything we’ve faced in modern times.
The urgency of ending a devastating crisis.
And the opportunity to build a better economy in its wake — an economy that works for everyone, brings fulfilling job opportunities, and leaves no one to fall through the cracks.
I look forward to working with the President-elect, the Vice President-elect, and this entire team to address that urgency and seize that opportunity — and make our economic system work better for every American.
Appointee for Member of the Council of Economic Advisers, Jared Bernstein
I’m hard-pressed to find the words to express my gratitude to the President-elect and Vice President-elect for the chance to be here today.
In thinking about the path that brought me here, a good place to start is 12 years ago — almost to the day — when I met with then-Vice-President-elect Biden at his home not far from here.
It was supposed to be a job interview to be his chief economist, but it quickly turned into a conversation about economic justice and fairness — which, as many here know, is a common destination in conversations with the President-elect.
Over the years, we’ve continued that discussion.
Often, it takes the form of some policy minutiae — sometimes, it’s me hitting him with far more graphics than are necessary, or him telling me to stop speaking econo-mese and start speaking English.
Guilty as charged, Mr. President-elect.
I suspect the reason we had such a meeting of the minds back then dates back to a common saying in my household when I was growing up: “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”
I grew up with a single mother — a lifelong educator.
There was a picture of FDR on the wall. Her proudest moment wasn’t when I got a PhD.
It was when I got a union card — Local 802, the New York City’s musicians’ union — but that’s a whole other story.
Of course, if you intend to be part of the solution, you need to accurately diagnose the problem.
On that front, I believe the team assembled by the President-elect and Vice President-elect has been resonant and visionary.
Yes, they’ve stressed the urgent need to control the virus and provide the relief needed to help families and businesses get to the other side of this crisis.
But they’ve been just as adamant that simply getting back to where we were sets the bar too low — we must build back an economy that’s far more resilient, far more fair, and far more inclusive.
It is precisely the vision this nation needs, and I suspect I’m not the only person on this stage champing at the bit to get to work on making their vision a reality.
Appointee for Member of the Council of Economic Advisers, Heather Boushey
Mr. President-elect, Madame Vice President-elect — I am honored and grateful for the chance to be a part of this exceptional team — and excited to get to work helping build an economy rooted in the values we share:
Equality, opportunity, and the dignity of work.
It’s no accident that I’ve focused my career on instilling those values in our economy, developing policies that help our nation grow stronger by growing more equitably.
Like the President-elect and the Vice President-elect, those values were instilled in me at a young age.
In the late 1970s, my dad got a job at Boeing — and if you grew up in Seattle like I did, you know what that means.
A lot more than a paycheck, as Janet referenced, and as the President-elect often reminds us.
And for our family, my dad’s job at Boeing meant security, union benefits, a place in the neighborhood, a place in the middle class.
But when a recession hit in the early 80s, one by one, the pink slips arrived for every family on our cul-de-sac.
Every kid at my bus stop had a parent who was laid off. Our entire community saw its future dimmed, and one day, it was my turn.
So the first time I truly experienced this thing called the economy, it was my parents sitting me down and explaining that things were going to be tougher for a while because my dad was on layoff.
Too many kids in America experience the economy through those difficult conversations — or far worse.
I was struck by the profound power this mysterious force held over my life, my friends, and my community.
And I wondered if that power couldn’t also be wielded to create happier conversations and fuller lives.
I’ve dedicated my career to figuring out how we can grow and sustain the middle class — and uproot the gender barriers and racial barriers that leave too many Americans outside the Dream, looking in.
Through the organization I co-founded, I’ve pursued solutions to reverse the dangerous march of inequality, and bring us back to the core value of broadly-shared success.
That’s the same value I see at the heart of the Build Back Better plan — and it’s why I’m excited and honored to help this team bring not just good jobs — but the good lives and peace of mind that come with them to every American community.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris
Mr. President-elect, congratulations on choosing this outstanding economic team.
And to our nominees and appointees, thank you for your continued service to our nation.
This is the team we need to deliver immediate economic relief to the American people, to get our economy back on track, and to make sure it works for working people.
And, as President-elect Biden noted earlier, completing that task could not be more urgent.
Cases of COVID-19 are spiking.
And beyond the tragic loss of life, the toll of this recession continues to mount.
Across America, one in six adults with children say their families are hungry; one in three adults are having trouble paying their bills; and the number of open small businesses has fallen by nearly 30 percent due to this pandemic, while many others are hoping they can stay afloat until a vaccine is available.
These are the struggles — the worries — that keep people up in the middle of the night.
But Americans are not united by their worries alone.
They’re united by their aspirations — for themselves and their families.
Because no matter where you live or what language your grandmother speaks, everyone wants to be able to get a job and keep a job.
No matter what your gender or who you love, everyone wants to be able to buy a home and keep a home.
And no matter how you worship or who you voted for in this election, everyone wants to be able to give their children a decent education, even during a pandemic.
Joe and I understand that.
We were raised to respect the dignity of work.
That’s why I’ve always fought for working people — from standing up for middle class families who’d lost their homes in the Great Recession to joining picket lines to advance workers’ rights.
And I look forward to collaborating with this extraordinary team to put working people front and center in this administration.
These public servants are some of America’s most brilliant minds.
They are proven leaders, whose talents, achievements, and life stories reflect the very best of our country.
And they not only have the experience and expertise to help end this economic crisis and put people back to work, they also share our commitment to building an economy — an America — where everyone has access to a higher minimum wage and affordable health care.
Paid family leave and paid sick leave.
Homeownership, and capital to start a small business.
An America where opportunity is within reach for everyone. For all The People.
So, we’ve got a lot of work to do, to build that America.
And President-elect Biden and I, with this economic team, will be ready to hit the ground running on day one.
New York State has been awarded an $18 million federal grant to fund educational opportunities that train New Yorkers for in-demand jobs, support entrepreneurs, and help small businesses recover from the coronavirus pandemic. New York was one of just eight states to receive the funding – made available through the CARES Act – and received the most of any state that was awarded a grant. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo made the announcement during Workforce Development Awareness Week.
“The coronavirus pandemic is far from over, and as we continue to fight against this deadly virus, we must also respond to the economic devastation it has caused. With millions of Americans out of work, we must use every resource available to train New Yorkers to compete – and succeed – in this difficult economic situation,” Governor Cuomo said. “Our workforce is the bedrock of our economy, and I know that this funding will help bridge the gap between education and industry, allowing us to build back better by uplifting both individuals looking for jobs and small businesses across the state.”
“We are making success accessible ensuring New Yorkers have the training and skills they need to seek new jobs and opportunities as we continue to battle this pandemic,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.”Our ongoing workforce development initiative is supporting efforts to improve the economic security of women, youth and other groups that face significant barriers by making job placement more inclusive and leaving no New Yorker behind. We are sending a clear message to New Yorkers that they will have the training and skills they need to succeed as we build back better, smarter and stronger for the future.”
The New York State Department of Labor will partner with the Office of Workforce Development, Empire State Development, New York’s ten Regional Economic Development Councils, the State University of New York, and the City University of New York to allocate the federal grant funding on programs that support New York’s continued economic recovery.
Educational programs will focus on developing the skills needed to succeed in emerging growth industries like tech, logistics, and advanced manufacturing, and supporting entrepreneurs. New York’s multi-pronged approach will include four elements:
1)Education for Hard-Hit NYC: In New York City, which was among the worst-hit COVID-19 communities, the CUNY system will assist in training residents with the digital skills needed for in-demand sectors such as data analytics, cybersecurity, advanced logistics/supply chain, digital marketing and communications, and software development.
2) “Stay Near, Go Far” at SUNY: At 30 community colleges across the State, SUNY will leverage its existing “Stay Near, Go Far” initiative to train New Yorkers in high growth industries, including technology, healthcare, and advanced manufacturing, and provide them with the entrepreneurial skills needed to open their own businesses.
3) Entrepreneurship Boot Camps: Building on its existing resources, Empire State Development will host a series of intensive workshops and boot camps to train entrepreneurs and small business owners on how to run their own business during – and after – the pandemic.
4) Industry Focus, Regional Results: The Department of Labor will issue a competitive Request for Proposals and work with New York State’s ten Regional Economic Development Councils to identify industry-driven programs that either train job seekers to meet current local employment needs or are designed to address future economic and workforce development needs.
New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said,”The COVID-19 public health emergency has changed nearly every facet of our lives – including our workplaces and workforce. We have a responsibility to prepare New Yorkers to succeed in, during, and after the pandemic, and these new training opportunities will give them the skills needed to get back to work and help small businesses thrive.”
“Workforce training has long been a fundamental part of ESD’s mission and will be a key towards helping our State’s businesses build back better,” Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler said. “This funding allows us to develop, in partnership with and supported by the strength of New York’s top-tier public universities, workshops and boot camps that will connect entrepreneurs with the skilled talent needed to meet the challenges of this new economic environment.”
State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras said, “The Pandemic has challenged us to identify and pursue bold, creative, outside-the-box strategies for stimulating the economy and getting people back to work. Connecting people with the specific skills needed for in-demand jobs right in their own communities is crucial to rebuilding the economy and ensuring that New Yorkers who have fallen on hard times can find new, meaningful opportunities that support themselves and their families. The Reimagine Workforce Preparation Grant will provide a major boost to that important effort.”
“CUNY is committed to helping all New Yorkers navigate and access high quality upskilling opportunities that are connected to jobs that are growing, as our City and State continue to recover economically,” CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez said. “This grant will enable CUNY to serve thousands of New Yorkers in important areas like digital marketing, data analytics, software and web app development.”
Congressman José Serrano said, “We have to make sure New York’s labor force has the skills necessary to access opportunities as we recover from COVID-19. This initiative will expand access to free or low-cost support, education and training in the state of New York – one of only eight states selected for this investment. Made possible thanks to the CARES Act approved in Congress, this timely effort will ultimately help local workers, entrepreneurs and small businesses find opportunities, remain in business, and emerge stronger during and after COVID-19.”
Congressman Joseph Morelle said, “COVID-19 has left more than a million New Yorkers out of work and businesses across every sector struggling, profoundly altering the future of our economy. We need bold investments in workforce development to rebuild and recover from this pandemic, and I’m proud to have helped secure critical funding through the CARES Act to make this initiative a reality and give workers and businesses the support they need. I’m grateful to Governor Cuomo for his steadfast leadership throughout this crisis and his commitment to ensuring New York emerges safe and stronger than ever.”
This federal grant comes as New York State recognizes its second-annual Workforce Development Awareness Week, which runs September 28 to October 4. During this week, New York State spotlights job training and higher education strategies that will help meet business and industry workforce needs, improve regional talent pipelines, enhance the flexibility and adaptability of local workforce entities, and expand workplace learning opportunities for the diverse cross-section of people who remain the bedrock of the state and nation’s workforce. These efforts take on even more importance as the state continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, continues the state’s economic reopening, and begins the process of building back better.
On Labor Day, Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate for President, issued his plan to “Build Back Better” for American workers, drawing a contrast to the actual record of Donald Trump and contradicting Trump’s claim of a rebounding economy. Biden points to fewer than half of the 29 million jobs lost to the coronavirus pandemic have been restored (though Trump likes to boast about 1 million jobs added a month as a record and proof of a robust, rebounding economy), with 11.5 million still unemployed and facing the possibility their jobs will not come back. Manufacturing jobs, which Trump touts, is down 720,000 from when Trump took office. “President Trump may well be the only president in modern history to leave office with fewer jobs than when he took office. Trump thinks if the stock market is up, his rich friends and donors are doing well and corporation see their valuations rising, then everyone must be doing well… Joe knows we need to get serious about defeating the pandemic, dig out from the worst jobs crisis in nearly a century, and rebuild the middle class so everyone comes along.” Biden’s plan is to invest in infrastructure, clean energy, caregiving and education, and will support – not break up – unions, collective bargaining, higher wages and worker safety. Here is a fact sheet from the Biden campaign – Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Joe Biden’s Plan to “Build Back Better” for American Workers
After six months in the pandemic, we are less than halfway back to where we were — with 11.5 Million Americans not yet getting their jobs back. We’re still down 720,000 manufacturing jobs. President Trump may well be the only president in modern history to leave office with fewer jobs than when he took office.
Trump thinks if the stock market is up, his rich friends and donors are doing well, and corporations see their valuations rising — then everyone must be doing well. But Joe knows from growing up in neighborhoods in Scranton, Pennsylvania and Claymont, Delaware that the measure of our economic success is the quality of life of the American people. Today, too many working families are worried about paying their bills and putting food on the table.
Joe knows we need to get serious about defeating the pandemic, dig out from the worst jobs crisis in nearly a century, and rebuild the middle class so everyone comes along. He has a plan to Build Back Better by summoning a new wave of worker power and building an economy that serves the dignity of the hard-working people who make it run. He will put millions of Americans to work in good-paying jobs with a choice to join a union to meet four national challenges: building a stronger industrial and innovation base so the future is made in America, building sustainable infrastructure and a clean energy future, building a stronger caring economy, and advancing racial equity across the board.
Build worker power, raise wages, and secure stronger benefits. We’ve seen millions of American workers put their lives and health on the line to keep our country going. Joe will treat American workers and working families as essential at all times, not just times of crisis — with higher wages, stronger benefits, and fair and safe workplaces, so they can live a middle class life and provide opportunity for their kids. And, he will strengthen unions and worker power.
Encourage, not only defend, union organizing and collective bargaining. Joe knows the only way to take on abuses of power by corporations and Wall Street, and to restore America’s middle class, is with worker power. Joe will send economic recovery legislation to Congress that will make it easier for workers to organize a union and bargain collectively with their employers by including the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, card check, union and bargaining rights for public service workers, and a broad definition of “employee” and tough enforcement to end the misclassification of workers as independent contractors. Joe will also hold company executives personally liable when they interfere with organizing efforts.
Raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour and end the tipped minimum wage and sub-minimum wage for people with disabilities.
Ensure that every American has access to quality, affordable health care, by providing a public option and lowering costs for care and for prescription drugs.
Provide universal paid sick days and 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave.
Pass the Paycheck Fairness Act as the next step in efforts to ensure women are paid equally for equal work, and take other steps to address discrimination and harassment in the workplace.
Ensure workers are safe from COVID-19 and other workplace hazards by setting and enforcing robust safety standards. No one should get sick, injured, or die because they went to work.
Buy American. Joe will strengthen and enforce “Buy American” so that the massive amount of taxpayer money the federal government spends every year on everything from defense equipment to steel to auto fleets is used to help American manufacturers and their workers. And he’ll invest $400 billion more in buying American made goods to build a clean energy future.
Innovate in America. Joe will make a new $300 billion investment in research and development (R&D) and breakthrough technologies – from electric vehicle technology to lightweight materials to 5G – to unleash high-quality job creation in manufacturing and technology.
Pursue a Pro-American worker tax and trade strategy to fix the harmful policies of the Trump Administration and give our manufacturers and workers the fair shot they need.
Bring back critical supply chains to America so we aren’t dependent on China or any other country for the production of critical goods in a crisis.
Build a modern, sustainable infrastructure and an equitable clean energy future. Joe will make a $2 trillion accelerated investment setting us on an irreversible course to meet the ambitious climate progress that science demands, putting millions of people to work in good paying jobs:
Rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure – from roads and bridges to green spaces and water systems to electricity grids and universal broadband – to lay a foundation for sustainable growth, withstand the impacts of climate change, and provide access to clean air and water.
Position the American auto industry to win the 21st century, mobilizing American workers to manufacture clean vehicles and their input materials and parts.
Generating clean, American-made electricity, creating jobs for every kind of worker from scientists to construction workers to electricity generation workers to welders to engineers.
Retrofitting buildings, weatherizing homes, and building affordable housing.
Create jobs in climate-smart agriculture, resilience, and conservation, including by mobilizing the next generation of conservation and resilience workers through a Civilian Climate Corps and creating jobs to clean up local economies from the impacts of resource extraction.
Mobilize American talent and heart to create a 21st century caregiving and education workforce. The pandemic has laid bare just how hard it is for people in this country to find access to quality caregiving they need for themselves, or to juggle the responsibilities of working and also caring for family members. Joe will make substantial investments in the infrastructure of care in our country. He’ll:
Create millions of caregiving jobs by making preschool universal and high quality child care affordable and accessible for working families, and making it easier for aging relatives and loved ones with disabilities to have quality, affordable home- or community-based care
Treat caregivers and early childhood educators with respect and dignity, and give them the pay and benefits they deserve, training and career ladders to higher-paying jobs, the choice to join a union and bargain collectively, and other fundamental work-related rights and protections.
Free up millions of unpaid caregivers to pursue paid careers if they so choose.
Advance racial equity across the American economy. Joe will ensure Black and Brown small business owners, families, and workers are finally and fully cut in on the deal. His plan for achieving racial equity across the American economy covers everything from infrastructure to housing to education, and targets the racial wealth, jobs, and income gaps.
As workers struggle against a deadly pandemic, painful recession, and deep racial disparities — all worsened by Trump’s mismanagement and neglect — they also face an additional burden: a union-busting president. When he isn’t calling to boycott Goodyear and its thousands of union workers for petty personal reasons, President Trump is actively fighting against working people. Among many other things, Trump has:
Promised to veto the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO Act) – legislation that would make it easier for workers to unionize and collectively bargain – and stripped federal workers of their right to unionize.
Provided big tax cuts to corporations, without making them bring jobs home – and raised taxes for union members, by ending deductions for union dues.
Abandoned the Obama-Biden overtime expansion, costing over 8 million workers over $3.4 billion in lost wages already.
Let federal contractors double offshoring in his first 18 months in office.
Started a trade war with China that pushed manufacturing into recession – and then wasted his so-called “phase one” deal lobbying for big banks, instead of fighting for American jobs.
Broke his promise to invest in rebuilding infrastructure. Donald Trump promised a big infrastructure bill when he ran in 2016 and every year since. Every few weeks when he needs a distraction from the latest charge of corruption in his staff — or the conviction of high ranking members of his administration and political apparatus — the White House announces it’s “Infrastructure Week.” But he’s never delivered or even really tried.
Rolled back safety protections at workplaces, including by trying to weaken several occupationalandsafety regulations established during the Obama-Biden Administration, reducing Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) investigators to a historic low, and failing to put in place OSHA Emergency Temporary Standards to keep workers safe from COVID-19.
Weakened enforcement of American labor laws and made it easier for employers to misclassify workers by sabotaging the enforcement agencies and slashing their investigator corps.
On Saturday, August 8, Trump signed four Executive Orders intended to substitute for Congressional Republicans compromising with Democrats on a relief package against the health and economic ravages of the coronavirus pandemic. In a vitriolic speech, delivered to a mini-rally assembled from among his Bedminister golf course members, he attacked the Democrats’ plan, threatened a stock market crash should Joe Biden become president, and promised to end the payroll tax (which funds Social Security) should he be elected.
Indeed, Trump delivered this campaign promise: to reduce income taxes and capital gains taxes (in order to goose the stock market), in effect robbing the US Treasury which is already over $25 trillion in debt with trillions added because of the 2017 GOP tax cuts and the trillions spent on COVID relief, much of it going to the wealthiest and best connected. Instead of providing aid to states and localities which have been devastated by depleted revenues and run-up in costs to address COVID-19, he put more of the burden on states to come up with his faux employment benefits (it requires 25% to be paid by states). Instead of funding election protection and the post office, he accused Democrats of stealing the election.
“The massive taxpayer bailout of badly run blue states we talked about — that’s one of the things they’re looking to do. Measures designed to increase voter fraud,” he told his adoring audience.
“You know what it’s about? Fraud. That’s what they want: fraud. They want to try and steal this election because, frankly, it’s the only way they can win the election.
“The bill also requires all states to do universal mail-in balloting — which nobody is — nobody is prepared for — regardless of whether or not they have the infrastructure. They want to steal an election. That’s all this is all about: They want to steal the election.”
Trump couldn’t resist attacking proposals for a Green New Deal: “And they want to do the Green New Deal, which will decimate our country and decimate — it’s ridiculous, too. It’s childish. I actually say the Green New Deal is childish. It’s for children. It’s not for adults.”
And when asked what happens if the states can’t pony up the 25% to continue the $400 (not $600) unemployment benefits (the 75% that the federal government would spend would be coming from the states’ share of the CARES Act funding), he said, “Well, if they don’t, they don’t…So I don’t think their people will be too happy.”
As for the reduction in unemployment benefits, Trump said, “this gives them a great incentive to go back to work.”
Questioned about the constitutionality of going around Congress, which has the sole “power of the purse,” Trump said, “This will go very [fast]– if — if we get sued. Maybe we won’t get sued. If we get sued, it’s somebody that doesn’t want people to get money. Okay? And that’s not going to be a very popular thing. “
Pressed whether a President should go around Congress “ and decide how money is collected and spent?” Trump retorted, “You ever hear the word ‘obstruction’? “yes,” the reporter replied. “You were investigated for that.”
Trump then replied, “They’ve obstructed. Congress has obstructed. The Democrats have obstructed people from getting desperately needed money.”
“But this is in the Constitution, Mr. President,” the reporter insisted.Asked why he keeps taking credit for Veterans Choice, which was passed in 2014 by the Obama Administration, Trump abruptly ended the press conference.
In reaction to Trump’s executive orders, Vice President Joe Biden, presumptive Democratic nominee for President, issued this statement: –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Unable to deliver for the American people in a time of crisis, Donald Trump offered a series of half-baked measures today. He is putting Social Security at grave risk at a time when seniors are suffering the overwhelming impact of a pandemic he has failed to get under control. And make no mistake: Donald Trump said today that if he is re-elected, he will defund Social Security.
For months, Trump has golfed rather than negotiated, and sown division rather than pull people together to get a package passed. Now, instead of staying in Washington and working with Republicans and Democrats to reach a bipartisan deal, President Trump is at his golf club in New Jersey signing a series of dubious executive orders.
This is no art of the deal. This is not presidential leadership. These orders are not real solutions. They are just another cynical ploy designed to deflect responsibility. Some measures do far more harm than good.
One order is Donald Trump’s first shot in a new, reckless war on Social Security. Trump announced a payroll tax plan with no protections or guarantees — like the ones the Obama-Biden administration enforced a decade ago — that the Social Security Trust Fund will be made whole. And, Trump specifically stated today that if re-elected, he plans to undermine the entire financial footing of Social Security. He is laying out his roadmap to cutting Social Security. Our seniors and millions of Americans with disabilities are under enough stress without Trump putting their hard-earned Social Security benefits in doubt.
Another order brings cuts, chaos, and confusion to our system of unemployment insurance. Trump is unilaterally reducing the amount laid-off workers could receive. And he purports to provide these benefits until the end of the year, but only identifies enough funding to make it a handful of weeks. Even with that limited funding, Trump is basically playing a cruel game of robbing Peter to pay Paul: He is taking billions of dollars of federal natural disaster funding away so it won’t be available to states like Florida. And, he is forcing states to choose between imposing benefit cuts for unemployed workers or slashing funds for public schools, health workers, and first responders.
A third order, on evictions, is woefully inadequate to deal with the emerging housing crisis. He is leaving our nation’s renters with ever-mounting debt and leaving our small family landlords badly squeezed. Without a comprehensive plan to help our American families make rent, they will leave this crisis months behind on their payments while many landlords teeter on the verge of bankruptcy.
And a fourth order is a band-aid approach to student debt that leaves out 7 million borrowers who obtained their federal loans from private lenders or their college rather than the Department. The economic strain on these Americans is deep and unrelenting.
There is a solution to all of this pain and suffering. A real leader would go back to Washington, call together the leaders of the House and Senate, and negotiate a deal that delivers real relief to Americans who are struggling in this pandemic. We need a president who understands their struggle and believes in their courage to overcome.
Against an incumbent who only knows how to destroy, tear down, break up, cast blame, Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic candidate for president, has offered a long list of specific plans to solve the nation’s most pressing problems, and now crises. Here he outlines his plan to Build Back Better with a specific agenda for advancing racial equity in the American economy. This is from the Biden campaign:
The Biden Plan to Build Back Better by Advancing Racial Equity Across the American Economy
Joe Biden’s jobs and economic recovery agenda is built on the proposition that we must build our economy back better than it was before the COVID-19 crisis.
Over the last month, Biden has been laying out his vision for a stronger, resilient, and inclusive economy. He believes in an economy where every American enjoys a fair return for their work and an equal chance to get ahead. An economy more vibrant and more powerful precisely because everybody will be included in the deal. An economy where Black, Latino, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI), and Native American workers and families are finally welcomed as full participants.
Today, multiple, overlapping crises reinforce how far we have to go to deliver on that vision. The pandemic has shone a bright light on racial disparities in health and health care — as Black and Brown Americans have suffered and died from the coronavirus at rates far higher than white Americans. The economic crisis has hit Black and Brown communities especially hard, with Black unemployment at 15.4 percent, Latino unemployment at 14.5 percent, and businesses owned by Black, Latino, and Asian American people closing down at alarming rates. We are also seeing a national reckoning on racial justice and the tragic human costs of systemic racism in the murder of George Floyd and so many other Black men, women, and children. And through it all, the climate crisis mounts, with air and water pollution, superstorms and extreme weather, disproportionately impacting Black and Brown communities.
Biden believes we cannot build back better without a major mobilization of effort and resources to address these challenges and to advance racial equity across the American economy. That is why racial equity is a distinct pillar of his Build Back Better plan, as well as incorporated in each of the other pillars. Biden will remove barriers to participation in our economy, expand access to opportunity, and fully enforce the policies and laws that we already have on the books — and the pledges Biden has made in this campaign.
In laying out his Build Back Better agenda, Biden has announced bold investments — in infrastructure, innovation, manufacturing, education, housing, clean energy, federal procurement, and small businesses. Today, as the fourth pillar of the Build Back Better Agenda, he is announcing how he will direct many of these investments to advance racial equity as part of our nation’s economic recovery.
Specifically, Biden will:
Spur Public-Private Investment through a New Small Business Opportunity Plan
Reform Opportunity Zones to Fulfill Their Promise
Make a Historic Commitment to Equalizing Federal Procurement
Ensure His Housing Plan Makes Bold Investments in Homeownership and Access to Affordable Housing for Black, Brown, and Native Families
Achieve Equity in Management, Training, and Higher Education Opportunities Connected to the Jobs of the Future
Boost Retirement Security and Financial Wealth for Black, Brown, and Native Families
Ensure Workers of Color Are Compensated Fairly and Treated With Dignity
Ensure Equity in Biden’s Bold Infrastructure and Clean Energy Investments
Support Second Chances for Economic Success
Strengthen the Federal Reserve’s Focus on Racial Economic Gaps
Promote Diversity and Accountability in Leadership Across Key Positions in All Federal Agencies
Build a 21st Century Care Infrastructure
Address Longstanding Inequities in Agriculture
SPUR PUBLIC-PRIVATE INVESTMENT THROUGH A NEW SMALL BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY PLAN
Small business ownership is one of our country’s cornerstones for wealth building and job creation. However, persistent racial disparities in wealth and access to capital, combined with outright discrimination in the financial sector, have contributed to inequities in small business ownership, growth, and success. To address the racial wealth gap, the opportunity gap, and the jobs gap for Black and Brown people, Biden will launch a historic effort to empower small business creation and expansion in economically disadvantaged areas – and particularly for Black-, Latino-, AAPI-, and Native American-owned businesses. In addition to providing small businesses with an ambitious “restart package” to survive the current crisis and come out the other side strong, he is launching a special, ongoing initiative to empower these entrepreneurs to succeed and grow with a three-prong Small Business Opportunity Plan. His plan is consistent with key elements in the Jobs and Neighborhood Investment Act recently proposed by Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer, Mark Warner, Cory Booker, and Kamala Harris. Biden will:
Spur more than $50 billion in additional public-private venture capital to Black and Brown entrepreneurs by funding successful state and local investment initiatives and making permanent the highly effective New Markets Tax Credit.
Expand access to $100 billion in low-interest business loans by funding state, local, tribal and non-profit lending programs in Black and Brown communities and strengthening Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs), and the Community Reinvestment Act.
Eliminate barriers to technical assistance and advisory services by investing in a national network of cost-free business incubators and innovation hubs and intensive business seminars.
Collectively, Biden will leverage more than $150 billion in new capital and opportunities for small businesses that have been structurally excluded for generations. Biden will devote $30 billion (or 10%) of the $300 billion in innovation funding as part of his plan to ensure the future is “Made in All of America” to the Small Business Opportunity Fund to leverage private investment of $5 for each $1 of new public investment to reach this $150 billion. And, by empowering the financial institutions that support businesses owned by Black and Brown people, generating new capital, and providing robust technical assistance, Biden will unleash the full potential of small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Spur More than $50 Billion in New Equity Investment and Venture Capital for Entrepreneurs in Economically Disadvantaged Areas: Black and Brown entrepreneurs face unique barriers to obtaining the capital that they need to start and grow a business. For example, three-fourths of venture capital goes to just four cities – and far too little flows to businesses owned by Black and Brown people. To address this problem, Biden will:
Dramatically increase the availability of venture capital investments for small businesses, especially those owned by Black and Brown people. The Obama-Biden Administration’s State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) succeeded in expanding venture capital in states and areas too often left behind. More than 80% of venture capital supported by the SSBCI went to states that typically receive just 20% of private venture capital. Biden will expand those efforts by allocating $10 billion from the new Small Business Opportunity Fund to state and local venture capital programs that, based on past SSBCI investments, can spur $50 billion in new equity investment for small businesses. This new investment will be targeted to entrepreneurs who create jobs and growth in lower-income urban, tribal, and rural areas, with an emphasis on reaching businesses owned by Black and Brown people. This robust funding will help meet the goal Biden laid out in his “Made in All of America” initiative of venture capital and innovation investments benefiting all Americans across all of America.
Encourage private equity investment in businesses owned by Black and Brown people by expanding the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) to $5 billion yearly and making it permanent. The NMTC provides a credit of up to 40% for equity investment in small businesses that are pre-approved as benefiting low- and moderate-income areas. It is highly efficient: Every $1 of public funding leverages $8 of private investment. Through 2019, the NMTC supported $100 billion of investments in businesses and economic development projects to help revitalize disadvantaged communities. Expanding the NMTC will provide more investors the incentive to fund businesses owned by Black and Brown people. By increasing NMTC funding and making it permanent – together with the bold new venture funding in the Small Business Opportunity Fund – Biden will help ensure that more than $50 billion in additional venture and equity capital flows to small businesses and communities that have been held back due to systemic racism. And he will work to ensure that tribal projects benefit from the credit.
Leverage $100 Billion in Additional Financing for Small Businesses: In 2019, only 10% of funding from the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) major lending programs went to Black, Latino, and Native American entrepreneurs. Meanwhile, the Paycheck Protection Program has been rife with inequities: A recent “secret shopper” study by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition found that when Black small businesses applicants contacted a bank, nearly half the time, they were given inferior treatment to white applicants with nearly identical credit histories and business profiles. To address this problem, Biden will:
Expand lending through the expanded Small Business Opportunity Fund. Every $1 for state lending programs under the Obama-Biden SSBCI was proven to leverage anywhere from $5 to $23 of increased lending for small businesses through lending programs like capital access programs, revolving loan funds, and collateral assistance. Approximately 80% went to small businesses with 10 or fewer full-time employees. Biden will dramatically expand and broaden successful state, local, tribal, and non-profit programs that provide low-cost lending to minority small businesses and others serving underserved areas. In addition to supporting state initiatives for disadvantaged small businesses, Biden will also include an innovation fund that will allow coalitions of cities, CDFIs, or non-profits to seek funding to create or expand small business lending programs that disproportionately benefit small businesses owned by Black, Latino, AAPI, and Native American people and those serving low income communities.
Capitalize Community Development Financial Institutions. CDFIs are on the frontlines of the battle to close the racial wealth gap. Biden will seek to expand the role of CDFIs in underserved communities around the country by doubling their direct funding, making them a top vehicle for funding from the Small Business Opportunity Fund, and expanding their capacity to offer both micro-loans to small start-ups and larger loans to existing small businesses who have the capacity to grow. Biden will use the Small Business Opportunity Fund to strengthen CDFI stability and lend through targeted policies, such as those proposed in the Jobs and Neighborhood Investment Act. He will also ensure these investments direct increased resources to the Native American CDFI Assistance Program (NACA Program), which has proven a successful way to increase capital access across Indian Country.
Ensure all small business relief efforts are specifically designed to aid businesses owned by Black and Brown people. Trump’s team designed the PPP to allow the largest banks to give their most well-off clients “concierge” service at the front of the line while closing the door on Black-, Latino-, AAPI-, and Native American-owned businesses that did not have deep relationships with big banks. Biden will ensure from the start that any emergency small business relief plan that will still be needed in January 2021 will have clear provisions to ensure that true small businesses — especially those owned by Black and Brown people and those serving underserved rural, tribal, and urban areas — get the relief they need. He will reserve half of new small business relief — whether the PPP or future efforts — for small businesses with 50 employees or fewer, including microbusinesses and sole proprietorships, so the bigger and more well-connected aren’t able to win in a first-come, first-served race. Biden’s technical assistance programs — described below — will also involve “navigator” assistance for small — often minority-owned — businesses to ensure fair access to these programs.
Strengthen and expand the Community Reinvestment Act to ensure that our nation’s bank and non-bank financial services institutions are serving all communities. The Community Reinvestment Act currently regulates banks, but does little to ensure that “fintechs” and non-bank lenders are providing responsible access to all members of the community. On top of that gap, the Trump Administration is proposing to weaken the law by allowing lenders to receive a passing rating even if the lenders are excluding many neighborhoods and borrowers. Biden will expand the Community Reinvestment Act to apply to mortgage and insurance companies, add a requirement for financial services institutions to provide a statement outlining their commitment to the public interest, and, importantly, reverse new rules that allow these institutions to avoid lending and investing in all of the communities they serve.
Expanding Access to Additional Resources and Technical Assistance for Black and Brown Entrepreneurs: There are no limits or barriers to the talent and entrepreneurial spirit across our nation. Yet, for many, there are major limits to accessing the networks and professional services needed to succeed. For small businesses in underserved communities, this type of assistance is often unavailable or unaffordable, creating an additional barrier to opportunity. As President, Biden will launch an Expanding Entrepreneurship Initiative that provides all Americans, regardless of their background, with the resources and technical assistance they need to start and grow their own business. This initiative will:
Create a national network of federally funded small business incubators and innovation hubs. Many new businesses stand to benefit from the proliferation of for- and non-profit business incubators and innovation hubs. However, these organizations do not exist in every community and are rarely free. As President, Biden will increase federal funding for non-profit incubators and innovation hubs around the country, especially those serving Black, Latino, AAPI, and Native American entrepreneurs to ensure that all Americans, regardless of race or wealth, have a fair shot at starting and growing their own business. Biden will co-locate new hubs on the grounds of Small Business Development Centers, public libraries, community colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). These non-profit organizations will offer shared office and manufacturing space; business coaching; opportunities to partner with national laboratories and commercialize federally funded research; and legal, human resources, accounting, regulatory compliance, and information technology services to aspiring entrepreneurs free of charge for a period of up to two years. While some incubators and innovation hubs may specialize in specific industries depending on the regional economy, they will welcome and support all start-ups.
Establish an intensive, semester-long business development program at every public community college in the United States, as well as two-year HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs. Many Americans with a business idea don’t know where to get started. While business classes exist, many of them are prohibitively expensive, especially for an aspiring entrepreneur who is already worried about how they are going to come up with enough money to open their first business. As President, Biden will create a new federal grant program to establish free business development programs at the more than 1,000 public community colleges around the country. Business experts and, where possible, experienced entrepreneurs will lead course instruction and provide hands-on assistance to program participants. Classes will take place during the evenings and on weekends to provide greater flexibility to students and instructors. Upon completion of the free program, participants will be eligible for ongoing technical assistance for up to two years.
Increase the funding and stature of the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). Latino and Black Americans are roughly 30% of the U.S. population; yet they currently own just 7.5% of small businesses with employees. For almost four years, the only federal agency charged with addressing racial disparities in small business ownership has been on the Trump administration’s chopping block. MBDA provides business consulting services and connects minority-owned businesses with capital and contracting opportunities. These services are critical. Instead of trying to reduce or eliminate funding for MBDA, Biden will protect the agency and call on Congress to increase its funding dramatically. Biden will elevate the Director of the MBDA to the Assistant Secretary level and instruct the MBDA to coordinate all federal offices charged with reducing barriers to procurement for underrepresented groups. With additional resources and authority, MBDA will also be able to create new business development grants and other programs that will address the economic challenges facing Black and Brown communities, expand small business ownership, and shrink the racial wealth gap. In addition, Biden will provide MBDA with $5 billion in annual lending and investment authority to ensure capital flows directly to minority-owned businesses and investments in critical infrastructure in Black, Latino, AAPI, and Native American communities.
Unleash the full potential of businesses owned by Black and Brown people and other disadvantaged businesses to participate in the global marketplace. Biden believes American small businesses can compete and win in global markets – and small businesses owned by Black and Brown people have unique strengths to help win in these markets. Biden will help Black and Brown Americans grow their exports by: 1) requiring U.S. corporations with over $1 billion in revenues that receive federal financing or incentives for their global business to publicize data on their use of firms owned by Black and Brown Americans in their supply chains; 2) requiring the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation and other U.S.-based international development organizations to increase global contracting opportunities for firms owned by Black and Brown Americans; 3) requiring U.S. construction companies and others that build projects abroad for the United States government to develop strategies to increase partnerships with American small businesses owned by Black and Brown people; and 4) requiring the Export-Import Bank to increase its small business financing and develop targets for the percent of authorized value of its transactions going to businesses owned by Black and Brown Americans.
Employ the resources of the federal government to protect Native artisans. Arts and crafts are a big economic driver for Indian Country, but too many businesses devalue the livelihood of Native American artists by selling fake Native American art. Biden will call on the U.S. Department of Justice to bring more prosecutions under the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, a federal truth-in-advertising law that prohibits the marketing and sale of products that are inaccurately marketed as an Indian product or Native-produced.
REFORM OPPORTUNITY ZONES TO ENSURE THEY SERVE BLACK AND BROWN COMMUNITIES, SMALL BUSINESSES, AND HOMEOWNERS
Like many Americans, Biden initially hoped that Opportunity Zones would be structured and administered by the Trump Administration in a way that advanced racial equity, small business creation, and homeownership in low-income urban, rural, and tribal communities. It is now clear that the Trump Administration has failed to deliver on that promise in too many places around America. As the Urban Institute has found, the program as a whole is “not living up to its economic and community development goals.” While there have been positive examples, in too many instances investors favor high-return projects like luxury apartments over affordable housing and local entrepreneurs.
We cannot close the racial wealth gap if we allow billionaires to exploit Opportunity Zones tax breaks to pad their wealth, rather than investing in projects that benefit distressed low-income communities and Americans that are struggling to make ends meet. As President, Joe Biden will task his team to develop a plan for reforming Opportunity Zones, including steps like:
Incentivizing Opportunity Funds to partner with non-profit or community-oriented organizations, and jointly produce a community-benefit plan for each investment, with a focus on creating jobs for low-income residents and otherwise providing a direct financial impact to households within the Opportunity Zones.
Directing that Opportunity Zone benefits be reviewed by the Department of Treasury to ensure these tax benefits are only being allowed where there are clear economic, social, and environmental benefits to a community, and not just high returns — like those from luxury apartments or luxury hotels — to investors.
Introducing transparency by requiring recipients of the Opportunity Zone tax break to provide detailed reporting and public disclosure on their Opportunity Zone investments and the impact on local residents, including poverty status, housing affordability, and job creation.
MAKE A HISTORIC COMMITMENT TO EQUALIZING FEDERAL PROCUREMENT AS PART OF HIS BOLD PROCUREMENT PLAN
Biden’s Build Back Better plan includes a historic procurement effort designed to support small businesses and tackle long standing inequities in the federal contracting system. During his first term, Biden will tighten Buy American requirements for existing procurement and invest $400 billion in additional federal purchases of products made by American workers. And, he will make transparent, targeted investments that unleash new demand for domestic goods and services and create American jobs in communities across the country. As part of this effort, his multi-pronged small business contracting strategy will include formula-based awards; widespread outreach and counseling to small business owners, especially Black and Brown business owners; and transparent, frequent monitoring of contract awards. This will make certain that the largest mobilization of public investments in procurement, infrastructure, and R&D since WWII is equitably distributed across communities and businesses. Biden will also take concrete steps to streamline the federal procurement process as a whole and ensure it finally mirrors the demographics of this country. Specifically, Biden will:
Require prime contractors to develop and execute plans to increase subcontracting opportunities for small disadvantaged businesses (SDBs). As President, Biden will fully enforce existing laws that require prime contractors who bid for federal procurement opportunities to develop ambitious plans for subcontracting with small disadvantaged businesses. Biden will ensure prime contractors honor their commitments to SDBs by requiring detailed status updates and increasing SBA’s capacity to provide robust oversight and hold all bad actors accountable. Prime contractors will also have to regularly publish their business diversity data. The MBDA will publish an annual report that outlines the current state of minority business contracting (including racially disaggregated data on contract awards), updates the public on the administration’s progress towards meeting contracting goals, and identifies areas for improvement.
Expand long-term technical assistance and federal contracting preferences for small disadvantaged businesses. The SBA 8(a) program is currently one of the most effective tools for connecting small disadvantaged businesses to federal contracting opportunities. In Fiscal Year 2019 alone, 8(a) firms won $30 billion in federal contracts. As President, Biden will triple the federal goal for contracting with all small disadvantaged businesses from 5 percent to a minimum of 15 percent of all federal procurement dollars by 2025. He will increase the program’s administrative capacity, bolster marketing of the program in Black and Brown communities and tribal lands, streamline the application process, and create a national standard for service delivery. Biden will also extend the maximum length of time that a firm may participate in the 8(a) program and create a more supportive off-ramp to help graduates transition out. Biden will require public disclosure of program participant demographics to ensure participation is equitable.
Incentivize state and local governments and private sector partners to contract with small disadvantaged businesses. As Biden works to improve the federal procurement system, he will ask state and local governments and private sector partners to publicly share their small disadvantaged business contracting goals and strategies. Biden will work with them to develop new goals for SDB contracting and timebound strategies for achieving these goals. The administration will facilitate partnerships between these entities and require every institution that applies for federal grants, contracts, and other opportunities to demonstrate in writing how they are taking affirmative steps to extend contracting opportunities to underrepresented groups. And, he will publish a nationwide scorecard of each state’s efforts to contract with small disadvantaged businesses.
Protect small disadvantaged businesses from federal and state contract bundling which often prevents smaller firms owned by Black and Brown people from effectively bidding on procurement contracts. Biden will build on the anti-bundling provisions of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, by having the Office of Management and Budget, SBA, and MBDA conduct a government-wide review of existing contract bundling to determine whether agencies are following existing rules and whether agencies have the ability to further ensure small business participation in federal and state procurement opportunities.
Strengthen implementation of the Buy Indian Act within the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service to increase procurement opportunities for Native owned businesses.
Throughout, Biden will ensure federal dollars support American workers and their families. As called for in his plan to strengthen worker organizing, collective bargaining, and unions, Biden will require that all companies receiving procurement contracts are using taxpayer dollars to support good American jobs, including a commitment to pay at least $15 per hour, provide paid leave, maintain fair overtime and scheduling practices, and guarantee a choice to join a union and bargain collectively.
ENSURE HIS HOUSING PLAN MAKES BOLD INVESTMENTS IN HOMEOWNERSHIP AND ACCESS TO AFFORDABLE HOUSING FOR BLACK, LATINO, NATIVE, AND AAPI FAMILIES
Biden believes the middle class isn’t a number, but a value set that includes the ability to own your own home and live in a safe community. Housing should be a right, not a privilege.
Today, however, far too many Americans lack access to affordable and quality housing. Racial inequality permeates U.S. housing markets, with homeownership rates for Black, Latino, AAPI, and Native American households far below those of their white counterparts. Because home ownership is how many families save and build wealth, these racial disparities in home ownership contribute to the racial wealth gap. It is far past time to put an end to systemic housing discrimination and other contributors to this disparity.
At the same time, many families around the country face immediate risk of eviction in the midst of the Trump-created economic crisis. In June, more than one-third of renters—including 49% of Hispanic families and 43% of Black families— were not sure that they could pay their next month’s rent. To prevent a catastrophic rise in evictions and homelessness, Congress and President Trump must act now by creating a broad emergency housing support program modeled on the steps the government takes to address natural disasters, in order to get help out quickly and at scale.
To help families build wealth, secure a safe place to live in a vibrant and prosperous community, and ensure equal access to all aspects of the housing market, Biden will:
Help families buy their first homes and build wealth by creating a new refundable, advanceable tax credit of up to $15,000. Biden’s new First Down Payment Tax Credit will help low- and middle-income families offset the costs of home buying and help millions of families lay down roots for the first time. Building off of a temporary tax credit expanded as part of the Recovery Act, this tax credit will be permanent and advanceable, meaning that homebuyers receive the tax credit when they make the purchase instead of waiting to receive the assistance when they file taxes the following year.
Scale up support for investing in homeownership in revitalization areas. Several programs are designed to provide much needed support for families to invest in homeownership in distressed or marginalized neighborhoods including: HUD’s Good Neighbor Next Door program, which offers financial support for teachers, firefighters, and other critical workers to buy homes in distressed communities, and HUD’s Home Investment Partnership Program, which offers block grants for states to address the affordable housing challenges faced by low- and moderate-income families. And the proposed Neighborhood Homes Investment Act will provide tax credits for families to renovate distressed properties in distressed communities. A Biden Administration will scale these programs to help revitalize distressed neighborhoods across the nation and put more families into position to build wealth through homeownership.
Spur the construction of 1.5 million homes and public housing units to address the affordable housing crisis, increase energy efficiency, and reduce the racial wealth gap. Biden will make a bold federal investment in new affordable, accessible housing construction. He will ensure these homes are energy efficient from the start – saving the families who live there up to $500 per year. Biden will also drive additional capital into low-income communities and on tribal lands to spur the development of affordable housing and small business creation. He’ll incentivize smart regional planning that connects housing, transit, and jobs, improving quality of life by cutting commute times, reducing the distance between living and leisure areas, and mitigating climate change. For all of these new housing investments, those receiving assistance will be required to abide by high labor standards and source materials in the U.S. so that jobs created with these investments support family sustaining wages and benefits.
Call for more accurate, non-discriminatory, inclusive credit scoring and create a public credit reporting agency. Being able to obtain an accurate credit report and score is a critical step for homeownership. But today credit scoring and reports, which are issued by just three large private companies, are rife with problems: they often contain errors, they leave many “credit invisible” due to the sources used to generate a credit score, and they contribute to racial disparities. Biden will create a new public credit reporting and scoring division within the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to provide consumers with a government option that seeks to minimize racial disparities, for example by ensuring the algorithms used for credit scoring don’t have a discriminatory impact, and by accepting non-traditional sources of data like rental history and utility bills to establish credit. As a first step to more broad-based support for these scores, Biden will call on federal housing programs to accept these scores in their financial assessments and underwriting requirements
Protect homeowners and renters from abusive lenders and landlords through a new Homeowner and Renter Bill of Rights. Modeled on the California Homeowner Bill of Rights, Biden will enact legislation to end many shortcomings in the mortgage and rental markets.
Bolster programs that improve housing affordability for renters. Biden will provide Section 8 housing vouchers to every eligible family so that no one has to pay more than 30% of their income for rental housing and work with Congress to enact a new renter’s tax credit, designed to reduce rent and utilities to 30% of income for low-income individuals and families who may make too much money to qualify for a Section 8 voucher but still struggle to pay their rent.
Protect tenants from eviction. In addition to supporting immediate relief for tenants facing eviction during this crisis, Biden will work to enact Majority Whip James E. Clyburn and Senator Michael Bennet’s Legal Assistance to Prevent Evictions Act of 2020, which will help tenants facing eviction access legal assistance. He also will encourage localities to create eviction diversion programs, including mediation, payment plans, and financial literacy education programs.
Eliminate local and state housing regulations that perpetuate discrimination. Exclusionary zoning has for decades been strategically used to keep Black and Brown people and low-income families out of certain communities. Among other steps, Biden will enact legislation requiring any state receiving federal dollars through the Community Development Block Grants or Surface Transportation Block Grants to develop a strategy for inclusionary zoning, as proposed in the HOME Act of 2019 by Majority Whip Jim Clyburn and Senator Cory Booker.
Hold financial institutions accountable for discriminatory practices in the housing market. The Obama-Biden Administration held major national financial institutions accountable for discriminatory lending practices, securing hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements to help borrowers who had been harmed by their practices. And in 2013, the Obama-Biden Administration codified a long-standing, court-supported view that lending practices that have a discriminatory impact can be challenged even if discrimination was not explicit. But now the Trump Administration is seeking to gut this disparate impact standard by significantly increasing the burden of proof for those claiming discrimination. In the Biden Administration, this change will be reversed to ensure financial institutions are held accountable for serving all customers and not practicing policies that have the effect of deepening the impacts of systemic housing discrimination.
Roll back Trump Administration policies gutting fair lending and fair housing protections for homeowners. Biden will implement the Obama-Biden Administration’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule requiring communities receiving certain federal funding to proactively examine housing patterns and identify and address policies that have a discriminatory effect. The Trump Administration suspended this rule in 2018. Biden will ensure effective and rigorous enforcement of the Fair Housing Act and the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. And, he will reinstate the federal risk-sharing program which has helped secure financing for thousands of affordable rental housing units in partnership with housing finance agencies.
ACHIEVE EQUITY IN MANAGEMENT, TRAINING, AND HIGHER EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES CONNECTED TO JOBS OF THE FUTURE
Stark racial disparities exist at every stage of our education system. These disparities compound and contribute to inequity in economic, health, housing, and criminal justice outcomes. As President, Biden will make significant investments into educational institutions and programs that are designed to elevate Black and Brown students. He will:
Provide relief from student debt. Student debt burdens are unequal across races, disproportionately depriving young Black and Latino graduates from beginning their working lives free of crushing student loan debt. The typical bachelor’s degree graduate has about $16,000 in debt compared to $23,400 for Black students. According to a recent Brookings Institution study, Black graduates with a four year degree are five times more likely to default on their student loans than white graduates and a 2019 study found that Latino students are more likely than white students to default on their loans. The inequitable burden of student loan debt contributes to the stark racial wealth gap that exists in society. Biden has introduced a sweeping plan to provide relief from student loan debt. He will:
Include in the COVID-19 response an immediate cancellation of a minimum of $10,000 of federal student loan debt.
Double the maximum value of Pell grants and significantly increase the number of middle-class Americans who can participate in the program.
More than halve payments on undergraduate federal student loans by simplifying and increasing the generosity of today’s income-based repayment program.
Fix the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program and forgiving $10,000 of undergraduate or graduate student debt for every year of national or community service, up to five years.
Crack down on private lenders profiteering off students by empowering the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to take action against private lenders who are misleading students about their options and do not provide an affordable payment plan when individuals are experiencing acute periods of financial hardship.
Forgive all undergraduate tuition-related federal student debt from two- and four-year public colleges and universities and private HBCUs and MSIs for debt-holders earning up to $125,000.
Make public colleges and universities, as well as private HBCUs and MSIs, tuition-free for all families with incomes below $125,000. Biden will make public colleges and universities and private HBCUs and MSIs tuition-free for all students whose family incomes are below $125,000. This proposal will help roughly 91 percent of Black households and 88 percent of Latino households, and 91 percent of Native American households.
Support colleges and universities that play unique and vital roles in their communities. In his higher education plan, Biden laid out a wide-ranging plan to improve resources available to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges And Universities (TCUs), Hispanic-serving Institutions (HSIs), Asian American And Native American Pacific Islander-serving Institutions (AANAPISIs), Alaska Native-serving Institutions and Native Hawaiian-serving Institutions (ANNHs), Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs), and Native American-serving Nontribal Institutions (NASNTIs) that serve a disproportionate number of Black and Brown students, yet are severely under-resourced, especially when compared to other colleges and universities. Biden will:
Make HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs more affordable for their students. Biden will provide tuition-free access to four-year public HBCUs and MSIs for students from families earning below $125,000. And, he will invest in grants to under-resourced, private-nonprofit HBCUs and MSIs so they can lower the cost of attendance for low- and middle-income students, including DREAMers. Schools receiving funds must invest in lowering costs, improving retention and graduation rates, and closing equity gaps year-over-year for Black and Brown students.
Invest in the diverse talent at HBCUs, TCUs and MSIs to solve the country’s most pressing problems. The Biden Administration will invest $10 billion to create at least 200 new centers of excellence that serve as research incubators and connect students underrepresented in fields critical to our nation’s future – including fields tackling climate change, globalization, inequality, health disparities, and cancer – to learning and career opportunities. These funds will provide additional work study opportunities and incentivize state, private, and philanthropic dollars for these centers. Biden will also boost funding for agricultural research at land-grant universities, many of which are HBCUs and TCUs, as outlined in his Plan for Rural America. As President, Biden will also dedicate additional and increased priority funding streams at federal agencies for grants and contracts for HBCUs and MSIs. And, he will require any federal research grants to universities with an endowment of over $1 billion to form a meaningful partnership and enter into a 10% minimum subcontract with an HBCU, TCU, or MSI.
Build the high tech labs and facilities and digital infrastructure needed for learning, research, and innovation at HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs. Biden will invest $20 billion in infrastructure for HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs to build the physical research facilities and labs urgently needed to deliver on the country’s research and development, to update and modernize deteriorating facilities, including by strengthening the Historic Preservation program, and to create new space for increasing enrollments, especially at HSIs. While schools will be able to use these funds to upgrade the digital infrastructure, Biden will also support TCUs and other institutions in rural areas by investing $20 billion in rural broadband infrastructure and tripling funding to expand broadband access in rural areas. Additionally, as President, Biden will ensure all HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs have access to low-cost federal capital financing programs and will work with states to ensure they can take advantage of these programs. And, he will work to incentivize further public, private, and philanthropic investments in school infrastructure.
Provide support to continuously improve the value of HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs by investing $10 billion in programs that increase enrollment, retention, completion, and employment rates. These programs may include partnerships with both high schools, other universities, and employers; evidence-based remedial courses; academic and career advising services; and investing in wages, benefits, and professional development and benefits to recruit and retain faculty, including teacher residencies. Additionally, Biden will incentivize states, private, and philanthropic dollars to invest in these programs, while ensuring schools that do not receive matches increase their competitiveness.
Expand career pathways for graduates of HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs in areas that meet national priorities, including building a diverse pipeline of public school teachers. Biden will invest $5 billion in graduate programs in teaching, health care, and STEM and will develop robust internship and career pipelines at major research agencies, including Department of Energy National Laboratories, National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and the Department of Defense.
Triple and make permanent the capacity-building and student support for HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs in Title III and Title V of the Higher Education Act. These funds serve as a lifeline to under-resourced HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs year over year, ensuring that the most vulnerable students have the support they need to succeed. The Biden Administration will increase Title III and Title V funding to provide a dedicated revenue stream of $7.5 billion over the first ten years.
Reduce disparities in funding for HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs. Biden will require federal agencies and states to publish reports of their allocation of federal funding to colleges and universities. When inequities exist between HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs and similar non-HBCU, TCU, MSI colleges, federal agencies and states will be required to publish robust rationale and show improvements in eliminating disparities year-over-year. To ensure funding is more equitably distributed among HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs, the Biden Administration will require that competitive grant programs make similar universities compete against each other, for example, ensuring that HBCUs only compete against HBCUs. And, President Biden will require higher education accreditors to provide increased transparency in their processes.
Provide two years of community college or other high-quality training program without debt for any person looking to learn and improve their skills, especially to connect these individuals with the millions of job opportunities created by the historic investments in Biden’s Build Back Better Plan. As President, Biden will enact legislation to ensure that every person can go to community college for up to two years without having to pay tuition. Individuals will also be able to use these funds to pursue training programs that have a track record of participants completing their programs and securing good jobs. This initiative will be available for recent high school graduates and adults who never had the chance to pursue additional education beyond high school or who need to learn new skills.
Tackle the barriers that prevent students from completing their community college degree or training credential. There are too many Americans who don’t complete their education or training programs not because of a lack of will, but because of other responsibilities they are juggling, such as a job to pay their bills or caring for children. The Biden Administration’s community college initiative will be a first-dollar program, meaning that students will be able to use their Pell grants, state aid, and other aid to help them cover expenses beyond tuition and fees. In addition, Biden will give states financial incentives to foster collaboration between community colleges and community-based organizations to provide wraparound support services for students. Wraparound support services can range from public benefits and additional financial aid to cover textbook and transportation costs that often keep students from staying enrolled, to child care and mental health services, faculty mentoring, tutoring, and peer support groups.
Make a $50 billion investment in workforce training, including community-college business partnerships and apprenticeships. These funds will create and support partnerships between community colleges, businesses, unions, state, local, and tribal governments, universities, and high schools to identify in-demand knowledge and skills in a community and develop or modernize training programs – which could be as short as a few months or as long as two years – that lead to a relevant, high-demand industry-recognized credential. These funds will also exponentially increase the number of apprenticeships in this country through strengthening the Registered Apprenticeship Program and partnering with unions who oversee some of the best apprenticeship programs throughout our nation, not watering down the quality of the apprenticeship system like President Trump is doing. Biden will also make investments in pre-apprenticeship programs so that people of color have additional pathways into high-paying, union jobs in everything from designing to building infrastructure to manufacturing to technology to health. And he will closely monitor programs that receive funding and track participants’ completion rates and employment outcomes to ensure that all Americans, regardless of background, share the benefits of this historic investment.
Help develop pathways for diverse workers to access training and career opportunities. A study of Labor Department-funded individual career services — which included assistance looking for a job, help developing career plans, and one-on-one career coaching — found that earnings for workers who were provided these services increased 7 to 20%. Biden will ensure these services are universally available to all workers and people entering the workforce who need them. And, he will increase funding for community-based and proven organizations that help women and people of color access high-quality training and job opportunities.
Require publicly traded companies to disclose data on the racial and gender composition of their corporate boards. Corporate boards suffer from a widespread dearth of diversity, with just 21 percent of S&P 500 board seats going to people of color and only 27 percent going to women. As President, Biden will require that public companies disclose in their annual reports the racial and gender composition of the boards to better aid shareholders and advocates in their call for a diverse and inclusive management structure.
BOOST RETIREMENT SECURITY AND FINANCIAL WEALTH
Black and Brown families – and especially Black and Brown women — face disadvantages at every turn, from access to workplace retirement accounts to access to generational wealth. These disadvantages have resulted in large and persistent gaps in financial wealth. To help Black and Brown people have more opportunities to build up a nest egg, Biden will:
Equalize the tax benefits of defined contribution plans: The current tax benefits for retirement savings are based on the concept of deferral, whereby savers get to exclude their retirement contributions from tax, see their savings grow tax free, and then pay taxes when they withdraw money from their account. This system provides upper-income families with a much stronger tax break for saving and a limited benefit for middle-class and other workers with lower earnings. Biden will equalize benefits across the income scale, so that low- and middle-income workers will also get a tax break when they put money away for retirement.
Give small businesses a tax break for starting a retirement plan and giving workers the chance to save at work. As proposed by the Obama-Biden Administration, the Biden plan will call for widespread adoption of workplace savings plans and offer tax credits to small businesses to offset much of the costs. Under Biden’s plan, almost all workers without a pension or 401(k)-type plan will have access to an “automatic 401(k),” which provides the opportunity to easily save for retirement at work – putting millions of middle-class families on the path to a secure retirement.
Open the door for Asset Managers owned by Black and Brown people. Reviews of the performance of asset management firms owned by Black and Brown people are consistently equal to or better than “blue chip” asset management firms, yet government-led investment pools consistently fail to utilize them. As President, Biden will ensure that federal government-led investment pools, including pension funds and endowments, allocate their assets in a manner that reflects the diversity of the country, including to asset management firms owned by Black and Brown people. And Biden will require sales of any government assets to include participation of firms owned by Black and Brown people.
ENSURE WORKERS OF COLOR ARE COMPENSATED FAIRLY AND TREATED WITH DIGNITY
End pay discrimination. Biden will continue to prioritize closing wage gaps and ending paycheck discrimination. He strongly supports Senator Patty Murray and Congresswoman DeLauro’s Paycheck Fairness Act, which codifies and expands critical Obama-Biden protections for workers’ paychecks. He will also take action to strengthen the ability of employees to challenge discriminatory pay practices and hold employers accountable.
Increase the federal minimum wage to $15 across the country and eliminate the minimum tipped wage, disproportionately benefitting people of color who make up the majority of workers earning under $15 an hour. He will also support small businesses like restaurants during this economic crisis, helping them get back on their feet so they can keep their doors open and pay their workers.
Stop employers from denying workers overtime pay they’ve earned. The Obama-Biden Administration fought to extend overtime pay to over 4 million workers and protect nearly 9 million from losing it. The Trump Administration reversed this progress, implementing a new rule that leaves millions of workers behind — including 3 million workers of color. Since Trump walked away from protecting these workers who are fighting for a place in the middle class, they have lost over $3.2 billion in foregone overtime wages. As President, Biden will ensure workers are paid fairly for the long hours they work and get the overtime pay they deserve. And, he will ensure that domestic workers and farm workers receive overtime protections.
Address discrimination and harassment in the workplace. Tens of millions of workers, most of whom are women of color, report being sexually harassed at work. This harassment often leads to devastating consequences, including mental health problems and fewer opportunities for career advancement. While harassment is illegal, there are too many barriers for people to seek justice. For example, 60 million workers – including over half of African American and Latino workers – have been forced to sign contracts waiving their rights to sue their employer and over one-third of the workforce is bound by nondisclosure agreements that stop workers from speaking out about harassment and discrimination. As President, Biden will make systemic changes to address sexual harassment and other discrimination so workplaces are safe and fair for all. He will advocate for and sign into law the Bringing an End to Harassment by Enhancing Accountability and Rejecting Discrimination in the Workplace (BE HEARD) Act.
Guarantee up to 12 weeks paid family and medical leave for all workers andup to seven days of paid sick, family, and safe leave and require employers to permanently provide. Workers of color disproportionately lack access to paid leave of any kind, including nearly half of Latino workers and more than one third of Black workers. Biden will create a national paid family and medical leave program to give all workers up to 12 weeks of paid leave, based on the FAMILY Act. He will also make paid sick leave permanent with the type of sick leave called for in Senator Murray and Congresswoman DeLauro’s Healthy Families Act. Biden will also make sure small businesses get the support they need to survive the crisis, keep their workers employed, and come out the other side stronger
Make it easier for workers of all color and all workers to organize unions and bargain collectively. Unions are an essential path to the middle class, and especially for workers of color. The wealth of union workers of color is nearly 5 times greater than their non union counterparts. Unions help close income and benefit disparities. For example, Black union members earn over 16% more than their non-union counterparts and are more likely to have employer-provided benefits like health care and retirement. As we build back better, Biden will make it easier for workers to organize unions and collectively bargain. He will include in the economic recovery legislation he sends to Congress a series of policies to build worker power to raise wages and secure stronger benefits. This legislation will make it easier for workers to organize a union and bargain collectively with their employers by including the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, card check, union and bargaining rights for public service workers, and a broad definition of “employee” and tough enforcement to end the misclassification of workers as independent contractors. It will also go further than the PRO Act by holding company executives personally liable when they interfere with organizing efforts. And, he’ll restore the ability of federal workers to unionize and collectively bargain. Read Biden’s full plan to encourage unionization and collective bargaining at joebiden.com/empowerworkers.
INVEST IN INFRASTRUCTURE IN BLACK AND BROWN COMMUNITIES
We are the world’s richest nation, but for far too long Black, Latino, AAPI, and Native American communities have been left behind. By making real and sustained investments into Black and Brown communities, we will create an environment where businesses and investments will multiply in size and strength. In Black and Brown communities the federal government will provide state, tribal, and local governments with resources to:
Ensure all public infrastructure is fully accessible and integrated.
Biden’s Build Back Better plan includes a national effort to create the jobs we need to build a modern, sustainable, accessible, infrastructure now and deliver an equitable clean energy future. He will make a $2 trillion accelerated investment, with a plan to deploy those resources over his first term, toward that end.
A major focus of this investment will be to upgrade the infrastructure and job opportunities in Black and Brown communities. Specifically, Biden will:
Set a goal that disadvantaged communities receive 40% of overall benefits of spending in the areas of clean energy and energy efficiency deployment; clean, accessible transit and transportation; affordable and sustainable housing; training and workforce development; remediation and reduction of legacy pollution; and development of critical clean water infrastructure. In addition, Biden will directly fund historic investments across federal agencies aimed at eliminating legacy pollution — especially in Black and Brown communities, rural and urban low-income communities, and tribal communities — and addressing common challenges faced by disadvantaged communities, such as funds for replacing and remediating lead service lines and lead paint in households, child care centers, and schools in order to ensure all communities have access to safe drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. These investments will create good-paying jobs in frontline and fenceline communities.
Ensure the jobs building roads and bridges and schools and overhauling water systems and electricity grids are filled by diverse, local, well-trained workers – including Black and Brown people – by requiring federally funded projects to meet high labor standards, including paying prevailing wage, prioritizing Project Labor and Community Workforce Agreements, and employing workers trained in registered apprenticeship programs. Biden will make investments in pre-apprenticeship programs and in community-based and proven organizations that help Black and Brown people access high-quality training and job opportunities. Biden’s proposal will make sure national infrastructure and clean energy investments create millions of middle-class jobs that develop a diverse and local workforce with a choice to join a union, strengthening communities as we rebuild our physical infrastructure.
Revolutionize municipal transit networks. Biden will aim to provide all Americans in municipalities of more than 100,000 people with quality, accessible public transportation by 2030. He will allocate flexible federal investments with strong labor protections to help cities and towns install light rail networks and improve existing transit and bus lines.
Ensure clean, safe drinking water and water infrastructure is a right in all communities – rural to urban to tribal lands, rich and poor. From lead contamination in places like Flint, Michigan to the lack of potable water which contributes to the spread COVID-19 on the Navajo Reservation, too many communities face public health crises because of lack of basic water infrastructure. Biden will invest in the repair of water pipelines and sewer systems, replacement of lead service pipes, upgrade of treatment plants, and integration of efficiency and water quality monitoring technologies. This includes protecting our watersheds and clean water infrastructure from man-made and natural disasters by conserving and restoring wetlands and developing green infrastructure and natural solutions. And, he will work to ensure adequate, resilient water infrastructure in Black and Brown communities everywhere, especially Indian Country. African American and Latino households are nearly twice as likely as white households to lack sufficient plumbing, and Native American households are 19 times more likely. In Indian Country, this also means ensuring tribes have water rights needed to develop the infrastructure necessary to serve homes, businesses, and agricultural needs. The Obama-Biden Administration settled twelve important water rights settlements, more than any other Administration in history. These settlements supported $3 billion of investment in Indian Country, for building important infrastructure for clean drinking water and agricultural needs, protecting tribal fisheries and culturally important areas, and furthering economic development initiatives. Biden will restore strong federal support for Indian water rights settlements and coordinate the actions of all relevant federal agencies to use their programs, authorities, and resources to support Tribal water needs and economic development activities.
Expand broadband, or wireless broadband via 5G, to every American – recognizing that millions of households without access to broadband are locked out of an economy that is increasingly reliant on virtual collaboration. Communities without access cannot leverage the next generation of “smart” infrastructure. As the COVID-19 crisis has made clear, Americans everywhere need universal, reliable, affordable, and high-speed internet to do their jobs, participate equally in remote school learning and stay connected. This digital divide needs to be closed everywhere, from lower-income urban schools to rural America, to many older Americans as well as those living on tribal lands. Just like rural electrification several generations ago, universal broadband is long overdue and critical to broadly shared economic success.
Launch a major national effort to modernize our nation’s schools and early learning facilities. Each year the U.S. underfunds school infrastructure by $46 billion, resulting in schools that are outdated, unsafe, unfit, and – in some cases – making kids and educators sick. And over half of Americans, and especially Black and Brown people, live in child care deserts, with limited to no access to licensed child care. In line with the Rebuild America’s Schools Act, backed by the House Education Committee, Biden will invest $100 billion in improving public school buildings and ensure its top funding priority is modernizing schools in the most economically underserved communities in our nation — all too often in Black and Brown communities. He will also ensure parents no longer search in vain for a suitable child care option by creating a new child care construction tax credit to encourage businesses to build child care facilities at places of work and making direct investments in building new child care facilities and upgrading existing facilities around the country.
Clean up and redeveloping abandoned and underused Brownfield properties, old power plants and industrial facilities, landfills, abandoned mines, and other idle community assets that will be transformed into new economic hubs for communities all across America.
Revitalize communities in every corner of the country so that no one is left behind or cut off from economic opportunities. Biden’s plan will ensure that our infrastructure investments work to address disparities – often along lines of race and class – in access to clean air, clean water, reliable and sustainable, accessible transportation, connectivity to high-speed internet, and access to jobs and educational opportunities. This includes ensuring tribes receive the resources and support they need to invest in roads, clean water, wastewater, broadband, and other essential infrastructure needs. It also means funding investments in local and regional strategies to prevent a lack of accessible transportation options in urban, rural, and high-poverty areas from cutting off after-school opportunities for young people and job opportunities for workers seeking better jobs and more economic security for their families.
Take land into trust for Indian tribes. One of the most important roles the federal government plays in rebuilding the nation-to-nation relationship is taking land into trust on behalf of tribes. It is critical for tribal sovereignty and self-determination, allows for economic development, and helps support the well-being of tribal citizens, while also preserving tribal histories and culture for future generations. It helps to right the wrongs of past policy, including the dispossession by the U.S. government of 90 million acres of tribal land, nearly two-thirds of all tribal land. The Obama-Biden Administration recognized this vital responsibility and took more than half a million acres of land into trust for tribes — including land that the Trump Administration tried to take away from the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe. As President, Biden will uphold trust and treaty responsibilities and continue to take land into trust for Indian tribes, helping tribes spur economic development.
Biden believes in redemption. For people who are convicted of a crime, after they serve their sentence, they should have the opportunity to fully reintegrate into society, earn a good living, and participate in our democracy. It will not only benefit them, it will benefit all of society. It is also our best strategy to reduce recidivism.
The collateral consequences for a criminal record are vast. The National Institute of Justice found that there are more than 44,000 collateral consequences nationwide, including employment restrictions, loss of voting rights, denial of housing or even renting an apartment and educational loan restrictions to name a few.
Smart Data Infrastructure to Support Second Chances
Most states already have a process for people who want to shield their criminal record from public view — expungement and sealing. But getting a person’s record expunged or sealed is complicated and requires paperwork, time, and sometimes the support of legal counsel.
As President, Biden will advance a pathway for redemption and re-entry – and make real the possibility of second chances for all Americans – by helping states modernize their criminal justice data infrastructure and adopt automated record sealing for selected categories of non-violent offenses, to modernize their criminal justice data infrastructure. This data infrastructure will facilitate sealing of records in a manner that is precise, complete and efficient – so those records are not used to deny people jobs, housing, voting rights, school loans and other opportunities to rebuild their lives.
The grants Biden is proposing will support state efforts to research, plan for, and ultimately implement the criminal record data infrastructure improvements that will make automated record relief possible. Beyond that, the infrastructure improvements will yield a general improvement in the operation and efficiency of state records.
In addition, to invest in second chances and smart criminal justice reforms that will improve public safety, Biden will:
Set a national goal of ensuring 100% of formerly incarcerated individuals have housing upon reentry – at the federal and state level. He’ll start by directing the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to only contract with entities that are open to housing individuals looking for a second chance. And, he’ll expand funding for transitional housing, which has been drastically cut under the Trump Administration.
Expand access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment, as well as educational opportunities and job training for individuals during and after incarceration. The Biden Administration will expand the use of drug courts and other diversion programs. The Biden Administration will also expand funding for all of these programs and services, during and after incarceration.
Eliminate existing barriers preventing formerly incarcerated individuals from fully participating in society. For example, Biden will eliminate barriers keeping formerly incarcerated individuals from accessing public assistance such as SNAP, Pell grants, and housing support. He will streamline the process for giving individuals on probation or parole for non-violent offenses access to the Job Corps. The Biden Administration will incentivize states to automatically restore voting rights for individuals convicted of felonies once they have served their sentences. And, the Biden Administration will expand on the Obama-Biden Administration’s “ban the box” policy by encouraging further adoption of these policies at the state and local level. This effort will not include any automatic restoration of firearms rights.
Eliminate cash bail. Cash bail is the modern-day debtors’ prison. The cash bail system incarcerates people based on their inability to pay–sometimes small amounts. And, it disproportionately harms Black and Brown people. Biden will lead a national effort to end cash bail and reform our pretrial system by putting in place a system that is fair and does not inject further discrimination or bias into the process. As President, Biden will establish a technical assistance program to help state and local jurisdictions transition to a fair, equitable and effective pretrial system that does not rely on cash bail. This project will be modeled after the Obama-Biden smart suite of programs, which used technical assistance and funding to drive targeted improvements in corrections, probation, and policing. The project will similarly allow state and local Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) recipients to access Bureau of Justice Assitance’s (BJA) bank of subject-matter experts if they agree to dedicate a portion of their existing JAG funds to work on BJA-approved initiatives that transition pre-trial systems away from a reliance on cash-bail and to evidence-informed systems that use risk of flight and/or danger to determine whether defendants should be held in pre-trial detention.
STRENGTHEN THE FEDERAL RESERVE’S FOCUS ON RACIAL ECONOMIC GAPS
The Federal Reserve (the Fed) plays a highly influential role in determining the overall unemployment rate, as well as that of Black and Brown people. Within its existing mandate of promoting maximum employment and stable prices, the Fed should aggressively enhance its surveillance and targeting of persistent racial gaps in jobs, wages, and wealth. Biden will work with Congress to amend the Federal Reserve Act to require the Fed to regularly report on current data and trends in racial economic gaps — and what actions the Fed is taking through its monetary and regulatory policies to close these gaps. Access to affordable financial services is another first-order barrier to wealth building for many American families. Biden supports the Fed committing to a “real-time” payment system, a change the central bank has the authority to implement. With this system in place, instead of waiting days for checks to clear, low-income people will have instant access to money they are owed, ending an existing, costly burden to cash-constrained families.
The Fed should also revise its hiring and employment practices to achieve greater diversity at all levels of the institution — including at the leadership of the Board of Governors and the regional Federal Reserve Banks.
PRIORITIZE RACIAL EQUITY ACROSS THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
Apply the principles of Congressman Jim Clyburn’s 10-20-30 plan to ensure that federal dollars go to high-poverty areas that have long suffered disinvestment. To tackle persistent poverty in all communities, in both urban and rural America, Biden supports applying Congressman Clyburn’s 10-20-30 formula to all federal programs, targeting funds to census tracts with persistent poverty.
Promote diverse leadership for all federal agencies. The leaders of federal agencies make decisions that have a direct impact on the nature of our entire economic system. At present the leadership of those agencies do not reflect the diversity of our country. As President, Biden will promote diverse leadership in the financial regulatory agencies including the FTC, CFTC, SEC, OCC, and FDIC; work with all branches of government including the Senate and Supreme Court, to create best practices and standards for ensuring racial diversity among clerks, staffers and interns; and create a new post within the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers to focus on racial equity including the income and wealth gaps. And, recognizing the special importance of appointing Native Americans to play critical roles in upholding the government-to-government relationship, he will build on the Obama-Biden Administration to ensure tribal nations have a strong voice and role in the federal government.
Eliminate language barriers for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. Language barriers to vital services and resources can prevent AAPI’s with limited English proficiency from realizing their potential and the American Dream. Biden will build on the work of the Obama-Biden Administration, which ensured that members of the AAPI community who were limited English proficient had access to health care and other government services. For example, the administration produced outreach videos in Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Burmese, Hmong, Khmer, and Lao to ensure that members of those communities were able to take advantage of the Affordable Care Act’s benefits and coverage. Biden will direct his agencies to identify ways to increase access to federal programs for AAPI individuals and families, including those who have limited English proficiency. He will also create neighborhood resource centers or welcome centers to help all residents find jobs; access services and English-language learning opportunities; and navigate the school system, health care system, and other important facets of daily life. And, he will ensure that all public schools have sufficient English-language learning support to help all children reach their potential.
Disaggregate data about the Asian American and Pacific Islander community to achieve equal representation. The Asian American and Pacific Islander community is one which includes people of East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Philippines, and the Pacific Islands. Typically, when data is aggregated about this community it combines this wide swath of people into a single category – perpetuating the “model minority” myth by unwittingly masking specific challenges that segments of the AAPI population face. Data disaggregation is a strategy to collect information about the subgroups that make up a larger group, to surface issues when trying to understand the challenges that these communities face and identify solutions that are focused on closing disparity gaps. The Obama-Biden Administration released best practices for the disaggregation of federal data on AAPIs. Biden will build on this work and ensure that his administration recognizes and serves the myriad of challenges facing diverse AAPI communities.
Empower the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to fulfill its mission and address workplace discrimination. A 2017 survey found that 1 in 3 Latinos, 1 in 4 Asian Americans, 1 in 3 Native Americans, and more than half of African Americans had experienced racial discrimination in the workplace. Under a Biden Administration, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will be fully empowered to address discrimination in the workplace and help close the harmful and unjust gaps in wages and employment opportunities. To strengthen the EEOC, Biden will double funding for the agency, empower the EEOC to initiate investigations for all areas of discrimination under its purview, and continue the the Obama Administration effort–halted by President Trump–to expand the agency’s information collection efforts to include data on earnings gaps by race and gender.
INVEST IN A 21ST CENTURY CARE INFRASTRUCTURE
Biden believes that if we truly want to reward work in this country, we have to ease the financial burden of care that families are carrying, and we have to elevate the compensation, benefits, training and education opportunities for certification, and dignity of caregiving workers and educators.
He will make substantial investments in the infrastructure of care in our country — to make child care more affordable and accessible for working families, and to make it easier for aging relatives and loved ones with disabilities to have quality, affordable home- or community-based care. And, he is proposing to give caregiving workers and early childhood educators a raise and stronger benefits, treating them as the professionals they are. Caregivers and early childhood educators — disproportionately Black and Brown women — have been underpaid, unseen, and undervalued for far too long. Biden will:
Expand access to a broad array of long-term services and supports in local settings, including through closing the gaps in Medicaid for home- and community-based services and establishing a state innovation fund for creative, cost effective direct care services.
Ensure access to high-quality, affordable child care and offer universal preschool to three-and four-year olds through greater investment, expanded tax credits, and sliding-scale subsidies.
Build safe, energy-efficient, developmentally appropriate child care facilities, including in workplaces, so that parents and guardians never again have to search in vain for a suitable child care option.
Treat caregivers and early childhood educators with respect and dignity, and give them the pay and benefits they deserve, training and career ladders to higher-paying jobs, the choice to join a union and bargain collectively, and other fundamental work-related rights and protections.
ADDRESS LONGSTANDING INEQUITIES IN AGRICULTURE
Black, Brown and Native farmers have long faced barriers to growing their agricultural businesses, including unfair prices, unequal access to government support, retaliation for civil rights complaints, and outright injustice. For more than 100 years the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) did little to alleviate the burdens of systemic inequality for Black, Brown and Native farmers and was often the site of injustice. Over two decades ago, class action litigation was filed alleging longstanding discrimination against Black, Latino, Native, and women farmers. The cases dragged on for many years without relief for the complaints and impacted farmers struggled to regain the footing they lost before and during the litigation.
A profound shift occurred for Black, Brown and Native farmers under the Obama-Biden administration during which the USDA oversaw the conclusion of what became the largest civil rights settlement in US history, bringing a painful chapter to a close. The settlements in these cases marked the beginning of a renewed commitment to supporting diversity, equity, and an internal reckoning for the USDA. Under Obama-Biden, the USDA sought to address both the structural and cultural causes of systemic inequality that had in prior generations been reproduced by the policies and practices of the agency.
Despite the groundbreaking steps to address inequality that were taken under Obama-Biden, the practices and values of the USDA slid backwards under the authority of the Trump administration — which ceased many agency-wide efforts to level the playing field.
As President, Biden will build upon the historic progress made during the Obama-Biden administration, taking additional steps to support the rights of Black, Brown and Native farmers by:
Establish an Equity Commission. This equity commission will focus on the unique jurisdictional and regulatory barriers that Black, Brown, and Native farmers, ranchers, and fishers must negotiate and make sure that processes are streamlined and simplified to promote new and beginning farming and ranching operations by Black and Brown farmers. As President, Biden will direct his Department of Agriculture to review the Department’s programs – including in conservation, value-added agriculture support, finding new markets, data analysis, fisheries support, climate smart production, risk management, research and delivery of knowledge — and design a plan to ensure they are geared to farmers, ranchers, and fishers who are as different and varied as the landscape of the country.
Farm Land Purchase Assistance Program. As President, Biden will advance a comprehensive effort to assist in both the purchase of farmland and the ability of Black, Brown, and Native farmers to keep that land. This includes credit and technical support in the form of expedited credit, low-interest loans, and technical assistance. In addition, Biden recognizes the disadvantage that Black, Brown, and Native farmers face when they are forced to compete with other farmers who have decades of privileged access to federal assistance. As President, he will explore the use of land trusts, cooperative farm operations, and farm credit systems geared towards Black, Brown and, Native farmers as a means to support this population and diversify our agricultural sector.
Protect Heirs Property. For over a century, Black, Brown, and Native farmers faced exploitation in policy and practice in a matter that limited their ability to retain a rightful claim to inherited property and to access federal programs. Building on recent Congressional bills and model legislation at the state level, Biden will implement guidelines and regulations that preserve heirs’ ownership of family farms and ensure that these landowners have equal access to federal credit and agricultural programs.
Establish a Farmland Trust. This trust will support new farmers from underrepresented low-income communities to find, purchase, and succeed on farmland. The Trust will also help connect these farms to marginalized communities locally and in urban or rural areas in an effort to develop and maintain a more diverse supply chain that provides entry points for aspiring entrepreneurs in the food production industry.
Advance Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). As President, Biden will support and advance local production for farmers’ markets. He will work to maximize the use of unused land and to connect potential farmers with those landowners. Together farmers and landowners will pool acres into manageable units.
Advance fairness, accountability, and transparency at the United States Department of Agriculture As President, Biden will appoint officials at every level of the USDA who have a demonstrated commitment to supporting Black, Brown and Native farmers. Biden will also eliminate the USDA’s backlog of civil rights complaints, streamline and expedite the complaints process, permit appeals, and reinstate a foreclosure moratorium for those whose complaints remain unsettled. Biden will direct the USDA to fully enforce whistleblower protections and investigate reports of retaliation and interference from the Office of General Counsel. In addition, Biden will demand transparency and oversight in all aspects of USDA’s operations. Further, Biden will call on the agency’s Economic Research Service to include farmworkers and farmers of color more prominently in their research.
Expanding protections for farm workers. Farm workers – who are disproportionately Latino and immigrant workers – have always been essential to working our farms and feeding our country. As President, Biden will ensure farm workers are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve, regardless of immigration status. He will work with Congress to provide legal status based on prior agricultural work history, ensure they can earn paid sick time, and require that labor and safety rules, including overtime, humane living conditions, and protection from pesticide and heat exposure, are strictly enforced.