In a nutshell, President Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda comes down to this: seizing this rare opportunity to grow the economy in such a way so that all benefit, or continuing a system that benefits a small slice of society while holding back the rest, states a “memo” from White House Senior Staff to “Interested Parties”. Re: “The Generational Choices in Front of Us to Grow the Economy for All”
Memo: The Generational Choices in Front of Us to Grow the Economy for All To: Interested Parties From: White House Senior Staff
America is at a crossroads right now: whether to create sustained economic growth that benefits everybody by addressing the challenges that have held back working families for decades, or maintain the status quo of a failed strategy to invest government resources in tax cuts for large corporations and the wealthy.
The choice in front of us is simple. We can pass a plan that 17 Nobel Prize winning economists last week said would boost our economy and ease long-term inflationary pressures. We can pass a plan that last week the Economic Policy Institute said would support 4 million jobs per year over the decade. Or we can prioritize the interests of the wealthiest Americans and most profitable corporations over building an economy that works for everyone.
These are the choices in front of us:
1. We can continue to give the wealthiest 0.1% of households – those making $2 million a year – an annual tax cut of $36,000… …OR we can dramatically reduce child poverty by providing a tax cut to nearly 40 million households and the parents of 90% of American children through a historic expansion of the Child Tax Credit.
Economic impact: Last week, 450 economists, including four Nobel Prize winners, highlighted in an open letter the clear evidence of the economic benefits of the CTC – including higher long-term earnings for children in families receiving credit. This led the economists to conclude that “the net cost to taxpayers of the expansion has been estimated to be as little as approximately 16 cents for every $1 of new benefits.”
2. We can let pharmaceutical companies continue to raise prices on drugs that we depend on and allow nearly 1 in 4 Americans to struggle to afford prescription drugs… …OR we can lower drug costs by allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, expand health care coverage to 4 million uninsured people, and reduce health insurance premiums – saving 9 million people an average of $50 per month.
Economic impact: Reducing drug and healthcare would mean putting more money in Americans’ pockets that they can use to drive demand for U.S. goods and services. And, studies show that making health care more affordable enables more Americans to work, boosting employment and expanding the labor market.
3. We can let the wealthiest 1% of Americans evade $160 billion per year in taxes… … OR we can enforce our existing tax laws and invest that money to make universal preschool a reality – benefiting more than 5 million families and bringing down the crushing costs of child care for middle class families, which will help the average family save $13,000 per year.
Economic impact: Investing in universal preschool would help grow our economy for generations to come: research shows that every dollar invested in high-quality early childhood programs for low-income children yields more than $7 in benefits. The Economic Policy Institute study released last week projected that the President’s plan would support 1.1 million caregiving jobs per year this decade.
4. We can continue to allow large, profitable corporations to take advantage of tax loopholes… … ORwe can require big corporations to finally pay their fair share and use that money to invest in small businesses – the engine of our economy in communities throughout the country.
Economic impact: Supporting small businesses would help grow our economy in a way that benefits everyone: small businesses account for 44% of U.S. GDP, create two-thirds of net new jobs, and employ nearly half of America’s workers.
5. We can continue to let 55 Fortune 500 companies pay $0 in taxes on more than $40 billion in profits per year… …OR we can eliminate loopholes like the ones that allow companies to shift jobs and profits overseas and use that money to address the threat of climate change and make critical investments so that our communities are more resilient against extreme weather events. These companies have said we need to take on the existential threat of climate change; now they face a real choice – pay a little more or continue to allow extreme weather events to devastate communities around the country.
Economic impact: Last year alone, the United States faced 22 extreme weather and climate-related disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each – a cumulative price tag of nearly $100 billion. The climate investments in the Build Back Better plan would support more than 750,000 green jobs per year over the coming decade, and prevent economic shocks brought on from extreme weather events.
6. We can allow the middle class to be taxed more for their work than the richest are taxed on their investment income… …OR we can ask the top 0.3% to pay a higher tax rate on their investment income and use that money to drive down housing costs for the 10.5 million renters paying more than half of their incomes on rent and boost housing supply with the construction or rehabilitation of more than two million homes.
7. We can keep the corporate tax rate for the top 1% most profitable corporations at the lowest rate it has been since World War II… …OR we can make a modest increase to the corporate tax rate and use that money to reduce the crushing cost of child and elder care for middle class families. The President’s child care proposal would provide high-quality child care for children up to age 5, saving the average family $14,800 per year.
Economic impact: Investments in child care improve worker productivity, workforce participation, family incomes, and business revenue. One study found a $57 billion annual cost to the economy due to child-care related lost earnings and productivity.
8. We can accept a tax system where a teacher pays a higher tax rate than a hedge fund manager… …OR we can restore fairness in our tax code and expand paid family and medical leave to the nearly four in five private sector workers and 95% of lowest wage workers who currently lack it – so that millions of Americans no longer have to decide between keeping their jobs or caring for loved ones and their personal health.
Economic impact: Comprehensive paid and medical leave policies would increase labor force participation and lead to better outcomes for workers and businesses. The adoption of a paid leave program is associated with a 4.6% increase in revenue per full-time employee and 6.8% increase in profit per full-time employee.
The President believes that these choices are easy. He chooses leveling the playing field to ensure the wealthiest individuals and most profitable corporations pay their fair share and working-class families get a fighting chance to succeed and prosper. He chooses tackling the existential threats facing our country and making investments to position our nation for success for generations to come. These are the choices we face now.
The Biden Administration has recognized that the availability of affordable child care is the essential grease to the economy’s gears. The White House has issued a fact sheet detailing $39 billion in American Rescue Plan funding “to rescue the child care industry so the economy can recover”:
Today, the Biden Administration is announcing the release of $39 billion of American Rescue Plan funds to states, territories, and tribes to address the child care crisis caused by COVID-19. These funds will help early childhood educators and family child care providers keep their doors open. These providers have been on the frontlines caring for the children of essential workers and support parents, especially mothers, who want to get back to work. These funds are a critical step to pave the way for a strong economic recovery and a more equitable future.
Over the past 40 years, as more women entered the labor force and brought home larger paychecks, they have driven 91 percent of the income gains experienced by middle-class families. But, since the start of the COVID-19 public health emergency, roughly 2 million women have left the labor force, disproportionately due to caregiving needs and undoing decades of progress improving women’s labor force participation rate. Even as many fathers have returned to work, mothers, especially those without a four-year college degree, have not done so at similar rates. As a result, the gender earnings gap is predicted to increase by 5 percentage points in this recession, hurting our families and economy. As women work to regain employment, families with young children, and especially families of color where mothers are more likely to be sole or primary breadwinners, may face financial burdens for years to come. Parents need access to safe, quality child care to get back to work.
At the same time, early childhood and child care providers – nearly all small businesses, overwhelmingly owned by women and disproportionately owned by people of color – have been hit hard by the pandemic and are struggling to continue to provide essential services. Providers have faced decreasing revenues due to lower enrollment while also shouldering higher expenses – 47 percent higher by one estimate – for personal protective equipment (PPE), sanitation, additional staff, and other needs to operate safely. They were already operating on extremely thin margins before the pandemic. According to one survey, as of December, about one in four child care providers open at the start of the pandemic were closed, hindering access to care, especially for families of color. These closures exacerbated access challenges that existed before the pandemic when half of all Americans lived in a child care desert. Child care providers who have stayed open have gone to enormous lengths to do so: two in five providers report taking on debt for their programs using personal credit cards to pay for increased costs and three in five work in programs that have reduced expenses through layoffs, furloughs, or pay cuts. One in six child care jobs, generally held by women of color, still haven’t come back – much more than the one in twenty jobs that have been lost throughout the economy.
That is why President Biden prioritized addressing the child care crisis caused by COVID-19 as part of the American Rescue Plan. Today’s $39 billion funding release will provide a lifeline to hundreds of thousands of childcare providers and early childhood educators, provide a safe and healthy learning environment for more than 5 million children, and help parents, especially mothers, get back to work. States, tribes, and territories can use these funds to:
Help hundreds of thousands child care centers and family child care providers, which are mostly very small businesses, stay open or reopen including by making rent or mortgage payments, helping with utility or insurance bills, maintaining or improving facilities, and paying off debt incurred during the pandemic.
Support providers with funds to enable safe and healthy learning environments for more than 5 million of children, including by purchasing masks, implementing physical distancing, improving ventilation, and cleaning consistently, so both centers and family providers can comply with CDC’s Guidance for Operating Child Care Programs during COVID-19. This funding complements the President’s efforts to prioritize early childhood educators for vaccination – child care workers remain eligible for vaccinations and nearly 80 percent of the educators who work with children from birth to 12th grade received at least their first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine during the month of March. Providers can also use these funds to support the mental health of both children and early educators so that they can meet any social and emotional needs exacerbated by the pandemic as centers reopen and parents go back to work.
Keep child care workers, disproportionately women of color and immigrants, on the payroll and rehire those who have been laid off. Child care workers are essential to meeting the child care needs of families and providing quality are to children, but providers have been forced to lay off, furlough, or reduce pay of workers to survive – exacerbating issues faced by a workforce that has long faced low pay and high turnover. Providers can use these funds to keep workers on payroll, rehire laid off workers and recruit new workers, and increase the pay and benefits of child care workers and family child care providers.
Provide families with the greatest need access to affordable care. States, tribes, and territories can provide direct subsidies to more than 800,000 hard-pressed families earning below 85% state median income and families performing essential work, to help cover the cost of care.
Start to lay the foundation for a stronger child care system, so families can access the high-quality care they need. As states, tribes, and territories address the immediate crisis, they can also make a down payment on President Biden’s commitment to a stronger, more equitable early childhood education system. For example, states, tribes, and territories can set reimbursement rates at a level that will help children receive high-quality care and can increase access to care, including on the evenings and weekends when many essential workers need care.
The American Rescue Plan also included an historic increase in support for child care through the tax code, helping millions of working families afford needed care. Last year, a family claiming a Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) got less than $700 on average towards the cost of care, and many low-income working families often got nothing. Thanks to the historic expansion of the CDCTC in the American Recovery Plan, a median income family with two kids under age 13 will receive up to $8,000 towards their child care expenses when they file taxes for 2021, compared with a maximum of $1,200 previously.
In 2020, the CDCTC provides a tax credit typically capped at $600 for one child, for families with at least $3,000 in eligible expenses, and capped at $1,200 for two children or more for families with at least $6,000 in child care expenses.
Under the American Rescue Plan’s expansion of the CDCTC, all families with incomes below $125,000 will save up to half the cost of their eligible child care expenses, getting back up to $4,000 for one child and $8,000 for two or more children, when they file taxes for 2021. And, families making between $125,000 and $438,000 can receive a partial credit.
And for the first time, the CDCTC will be fully refundable, making the credit fairer by allowing low-income working families to receive the full value of the credit towards their eligible child care expenses regardless of how much they owe on their 2021 taxes.
In the coming weeks, the administration will release:
Guidance to states, tribes, and territories, while also providing technical assistance like webinars and peer-to-peer learning opportunities, to support states, tribes, and territories as they make historic investments in saving and rebuilding their child care systems, provide high-quality care to children, and get families back to work.
Frequently Asked Questions on the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit to equip parents with the information they need to claim the credit next year.
Help from the American Rescue Plan is coming to states, territories, and tribes. The $39 billion will be provided through two funds: (1) $24 billion in child care stabilization funding for child care providers to reopen or stay open, provide safe and healthy learning environments, keep workers on payroll, and provide mental health supports for educators and children, and (2) $15 billion in more flexible funding for states to make child care more affordable for more families, increase access to high-quality care for families receiving subsidies, increase compensation for early childhood workers, and meet other care needs in their states. A breakdown by state, tribe and territory is below.
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.
As Donald Trump sits back, tweets inciting calls to violence over overturning the 2020 election and makes threats as millions face eviction in the middle of winter and a raging pandemic; hunger; poverty (8 million have fallen into poverty just since July); the number of COVID-19 deaths surpass 330,000; every four days, a million more are infected (double the number just from Election Day, likely having much to do with Trump super-spreader rallies and forced in-person voting amid his sabotage of absentee voting); and Trump’s inaction or actual veto of bills that would provide COVID-19 relief and help fund vaccinations, and would cause the entire government to shut down, President-Elect Joe Biden is calling his refusal to sign the bill, passed with overwhelming and bipartisan majority, an “abdication of responsibility” that has “devastating consequences.” That’s an understatement. Here is Biden’s statement:
It is the day after Christmas, and millions of families don’t know if they’ll be able to make ends meet because of President Donald Trump’s refusal to sign an economic relief bill approved by Congress with an overwhelming and bipartisan majority.
This abdication of responsibility has devastating consequences. Today, about 10 million Americans will lose unemployment insurance benefits. In just a few days, government funding will expire, putting vital services and paychecks for military personnel at risk. In less than a week, a moratorium on evictions expires, putting millions at risk of being forced from their homes over the holidays. Delay means more small businesses won’t survive this dark winter because they lack access to the lifeline they need, and Americans face further delays in getting the direct payments they deserve as quickly as possible to help deal with the economic devastation caused by COVID-19. And while there is hope with the vaccines, we need funding to be able to distribute and administer them to millions of Americans, including frontline health care workers.
This bill is critical. It needs to be signed into law now. But it is also a first step and down payment on more action that we’ll need to take early in the new year to revive the economy and contain the pandemic — including meeting the dire need for funding to distribute and administer the vaccine and to increase our testing capacity.
In November, the American people spoke clearly that now is a time for bipartisan action and compromise. I was heartened to see members of Congress heed that message, reach across the aisle, and work together. President Trump should join them, and make sure millions of Americans can put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads in this holiday season.
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.
Governor Andrew Cuomo in his daily briefing in which noted that New York State’s COVID-19 infection rate has been below 1 percent for 32 straight days., laid out a searing attack on Donald Trump, charging that Trump is waging war on Democratic-lead cities.
“Trump is actively trying to kill New York City,” Cuomo declared. “It is personal. I think it’s psychological. He is trying to kill New York City…
“We lose more people per day to COVID than any nation on the globe. You know who did that? Donald Trump’s incompetence. And now they won’t provide federal funding to help repair the damage from the ambush they created…
“The federal government must provide a response; if they don’t provide a response the national economy will suffer for years. Every economist says that They don’t want to provide a response, why? Because they’re playing politics. They don’t want to help Democratic states. They don’t want to help Democratic cities.”
Cuomo put it into the context of Trump administration’s failure to take measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus which came into New York and the Northeast from Europe, not China, causing untold emotional and economic harm, and now doing everything possible to prevent the city and state from recovering economically.
Here are his highlighted remarks –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
The good news is this: reopening is proceeding and our strategy is working. New Yorkers are doing a better job than any state in the United States of America— period— and I’m proud to be a New Yorker. The bad news is we have after-effects of COVID, social after-effects. We have economic issues. we have quality-of-life issues. We have increasing crime issues. We have habitability issues.
I can’t tell you how many phone calls I get from people, especially in New York City, who are literally worried about the degradation of New York City— and much of it stems from the economic problems. And Washington is doing absolutely nothing. They’re going back and forth with gridlock. This was the last piece of legislation that they were supposed to pass to handle the aftermath of COVID and they haven’t done it. The Republican Senate doesn’t want to fund state and local governments and that’s the sticking point. Not to fund state and local governments, but to provide all the money that they did to businesses— but you’re not going to provide funding to state local governments, who basically support police, fire, hospitals and schools is just totally ludicrous to me. And it starts with the President.
There was a headline in the Daily News once: “Ford to City: Drop Dead,” and the city was outraged Ford wouldn’t provide financial resources. What Ford did pales in comparison to what Trump is doing; not only did he tell New York City to “drop dead,”
Trump is actively trying to kill New York City. It is personal. I think it’s psychological. He is trying to kill New York City.
He passed SALT, which was targeted just at New York City tax reform; it cost us $14 billion.
He’s refused to fund the extension of the Second Avenue Subway from 96th to 125th Street. Every prior administration has funded the Second Avenue Subway. It is always been a federal-state partnership. Only this President, a former New Yorker, refuses to fund the Second Avenue Subway— even after we opened it up to 96th Street and did an amazing turn-around on the construction project that everybody celebrated.
He won’t approve the AirTrain to LaGuardia. And you want to talk about really ironic, repugnant logic? You know why he won’t approve the AirTrain to LaGuardia? He says he has to do an Environmental Review statement. The same President who has lamented about the delay of Environmental Reviews and how they take so long, and how they stop development and how bad the SEQRA is and how the environmentalists are all full of baloney when it comes to ANWAR. Now he says, “I can’t approve the AirTrain from LaGuardia that’s been talked about for decades because I have to do an Environmental Review. Now Trump, as the environmental bureaucrat. How incredible is that?
He won’t approve congestion pricing for the MTA. What does he have to do with congestion pricing? Nothing! It is just gratuitous. It is just gratuitous. There is no federal involvement with congestion pricing. Their approval is purely technical and it’s been over a year— we passed it in New York State. He won’t approve it.
He won’t rebuild the tunnels between New York and New Jersey that are dangerous. They’re Amtrak tunnels. Do you know who owns Amtrak? Who owns Amtrak? The federal government owns Amtrak. They’re his tunnels. They’re decaying. I went to the tunnel; I took a video of water seeping into the tunnel. I took a video of bricks crumbling. I sent them the video. He watched the video. Still, no money to fund the Amtrak tunnels.
This weekend, they stopped FEMA funding from cleaning schools and trains. “We want students to go back; we want schools to reopen.” But you don’t want to clean the schools? Students should go back to a dirty school? Is that what you want your child to do? Gratuitous and arbitrary, and now no federal funds for New York City and New York State post-COVID.
Donald Trump caused the COVID outbreak in New York. That is a fact. It’s a fact that he admitted and the CDC admitted and Fauci admitted. “The China Virus, the China Virus, the China Virus.” It was not the China Virus; it was the European Virus that came to New York. They missed it. They missed it. The China Virus went to Europe. It got on a plane and went to Europe. They never even thought of the possibility and then 3 million Europeans got on a plane and came to New York and they brought the virus. January: they brought the virus. February: they brought the virus. March: they brought the virus. And in mid-March, the federal government does a travel ban from Europe. Mid-March. Too little too late, Mr. President. He caused the COVID outbreak in New York. Donald Trump and his incompetent CDC and his incompetent NIH and his incompetent Department of Homeland Security.
Department of Homeland Security- “We’re going to protect the people of this nation “We’re not going let the immigrants come across the southern border; we’re going to create a wall” Why didn’t you stop the virus? The virus killed many more Americans than anything you were worried about on the southern border. This nation loses more people per day to COVID than any nation on the globe. Do you hear that point?
We lose more people per day to COVID than any nation on the globe. You know who did that? Donald Trump’s incompetence. And now they won’t provide federal funding to help repair the damage from the ambush they created. That’s where we are.
The federal government must provide a response; if they don’t provide a response the national economy will suffer for years. Every economist says that They don’t want to provide a response, why? Because they’re playing politics. They don’t want to help Democratic states. They don’t want to help Democratic cities.
This is a war on cities: New York City, Portland, Chicago. Right? These are the enemies from the president’s point of view. Look at his tweets. “These are the locations and the outposts of the enemies, so don’t provide them any funding even though we caused the COVID virus. It is an unsustainable position for the federal government.
Either this president will figure it out or the next president will figure it out. If Congress doesn’t figure it out, there will be mayhem in this country and there will be a different Congress in January. That is my political opinion. In the interim we have to be smart. We’ve gone through tough times before, New York, we had the fiscal crisis of the 70s; post 9/11 – I experienced it was a whole disruptive period – we went through the Great Recession, but we have to be smart we have to be smart we have to be financially smart and we’re going to have to come together and figure this out in the interim before we have a federal government that is sane and functional.
The good news is, this is going to be a challenge, yes, but nothing like the challenge we just went through. COVID was the challenge of our lifetime. COVID was the challenge of our lifetime. I hope and pray. But compared to what we went through with COVID, dealing with the fiscal crisis is a mere bump and we’ll get through it, and we’ll get through it together because we’re New York Tough, Smart, United, Disciplined and most of all: Loving.
The number of new cases, percentage of tests that were positive and many other helpful data points are always available at forward.ny.gov.
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.
Using his trademark restraint, Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate for Trump, could not contain his revulsion and distress in condemning in harshest terms Donald Trump’s remarks denigrating POWs and the soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice for their nation. The speech was supposed to be about the economy, and despite some favorable jobs numbers which have brought down the unemployment rate somewhat, a take-down of Trump’s incompetent handling of COVID-19 and the economy and lack of leadership which have made the situation so much worse. But the revelations the night before about remarks Trump made concerning the military, on top of Trump’s call to supporters to vote twice, and his refusal, yet again, to say anything against Vladimir Putin, prompted him to say, in response to a question, “I’ve never been as disappointed in my whole career with a leader that I’ve worked with, president or otherwise. If [the Atlantic] article is true, based on other things he has said, it is damnable. A disgrace….
“It is sick. It is deplorable. It is so un-American, so unpatriotic.”
The comments attributed to Trump, he said, “affirm what we already know to be true: Donald Trump is not fit for the job of president, or to hold the title commander in chief.”
Biden declared, “It is a sacred duty to ensure we properly prepare and equip those we send into harm’s way, and to care for them and their families, both while they are deployed and after they return home.
“Duty, honor, country — those are the values that drive our service members.
“President Trump has demonstrated he has no sense of service, no loyalty to any cause other than himself.
“And if I have the honor of serving as the next Commander-in-Chief, I will ensure that our American heroes know I will have their back and honor their sacrifice — always.”
And about the jobs report and economic situation, he said, “you can’t deal with the economic crisis until you beat the pandemic.”
“No matter what he says or what he claims, you are not safer in Donald Trump’s America. You are not safe in Trump’s America where people are dying at a rate last seen when Americans were fighting in World War II.”
Here are Vice President Biden’s highlighted remarks:
Before I begin, I wanted to speak to the revelations about President Trump’s disregard for our military and veterans.
They are disgusting. They affirm what we already know to be true: Donald Trump is not fit for the job of president, or to hold the title commander in chief.
The president reportedly said that those who sign up to serve — instead of doing something more lucrative — are suckers. So let me be clear: my son Beau, who volunteered to go to Iraq, was not a sucker.
The men and women who served with him are not suckers, and the service men and women he served with, who did not come home, are not losers.
If these statements are true, the president should humbly apologize to every person in uniform, and every Gold Star and Blue Star family he has insulted.
Who the hell does he think he is?
Is it true? Well, we’ve heard from his own mouth his characterization of American hero John McCain as a loser, and his dismissal of the traumatic brain injuries suffered by troops serving in Iraq as mere “‘headaches.”
He stood by, failing to take action or even raise the issue with Vladimir Putin, while the Kremlin put bounties on the heads of American troops serving in Afghanistan.
It is a sacred duty to ensure we properly prepare and equip those we send into harm’s way, and to care for them and their families, both while they are deployed and after they return home.
Duty, honor, country — those are the values that drive our service members.
President Trump has demonstrated he has no sense of service, no loyalty to any cause other than himself.
And if I have the honor of serving as the next Commander-in-Chief, I will ensure that our American heroes know I will have their back and honor their sacrifice — always.
And that’s just another marker of how deeply President Trump and I disagree about the role of the President of the United States.
The August jobs report came out this morning.
I am grateful for everyone who found work again and found a glimmer of hope that brings them back from the edge.
But there is real cause for concern, too.
The pace of job gains in August was slower than in July — and significantly slower than May or June.
More and more temporary layoffs are turning into permanent layoffs.
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. In fact, Trump may well be the only president in modern history to leave office with fewer jobs than when he took office.
Talk to a lot of real working people who are being left behind — ask them, do you feel the economy is coming back?
They don’t feel it.
That’s why I’m here today.
Thank you, Paul Calistro and his team, for hosting us at West End Neighborhood House here in Wilmington.
You continue a tradition of doing God’s work for this community.
For more than 130 years, through pandemics, wars, and depression, West End has been there for generations of people who are just looking for a chance. Not a handout.
Just a fair shot at a good job, a safe place to live, and a better life to pass down to their kids.
And it’s a special place for the Biden family. My daughter Ashley worked here as a caseworker helping young people aging out of foster care.
When he was Attorney General of Delaware, my son Beau came here – right here – to learn more about its job training programs for folks working toward a GED and a certificate for a good-paying job.
And when I was Senator and Vice President, there were plenty of economists around to talk about how the economy was doing.
But I’d always think about the people who walk through these doors.
If working people — white, Black, Brown, Latino — here were doing okay, then I knew the economy was doing okay. If they weren’t, then I knew we weren’t.
And that’s what we should think about with the latest jobs report.
But the report reinforces our worst fears and painful truths — the economic inequities that began before the downturn have only worsened under this failed presidency.
When the crisis started, we all hoped for a few months of a shutdown followed by a rapid economic turnaround. No one thought they’d lose their job for good or see small businesses shut down in mass.
But that kind of recovery requires leadership — leadership we just don’t have.
As a result, economists are starting to call this a K-shaped recovery — which is a fancy phrase for what’s been wrong with everything about Trump’s presidency.
The “K” means that those at the top see things go up, but those in the middle and below see things get worse.
That’s no surprise because at the root of this is the fact that Trump has managed COVID to become a K-shaped pandemic.
First, the president’s chaotic mismanagement of the pandemic is still holding us back.
And compared to other major industrial countries in Europe and Asia during the pandemic, our unemployment rate has still more than doubled while those nations have only gone up by less than half.
Why? Because the president has botched the COVID response. Botched it badly.
I’ve said from the beginning, you can’t deal with the economic crisis until you beat the pandemic.
You can’t have a full economic comeback, when almost 1,000 Americans die each day from COVID, when the death toll is about to reach 200,000, when more than six million Americans have been infected, and when millions more are worried about getting sick and dying as schools and businesses try to reopen. And we all know it didn’t have to be this bad. It didn’t have to be this bad if the president just did his job.
If he just took this virus seriously early on in January and February as it spread around the globe.
If he just took the steps we needed back in March and April to institute widespread testing and tracing to control the spread.
If he provided clear, national, and science-based guidance to state and local authorities, and if he had just set a good example like social distancing and mask wearing. Not that much to ask.
But it’s almost like he doesn’t care because it doesn’t affect him and his class of friends.
Anyone with a big enough checkbook can get a rapid test on demand.
If you don’t, you might have to wait in line for hours and weeks for results — if you can get a test at all.
If you have the kind of job where you can work on your laptop — at home, or remotely — your risk of getting COVID at work is small.
This jobs report shows that 37 million workers reported teleworking in August.
But if you work on an assembly line or at a checkout counter orat a meat packing plant, or if you drive a truck or deliver packages — you’re at greater risk.
And the jobs report shows that more than 24 million workers reported that they couldn’t work or lost hours because their employer had to close or lost business due to the pandemic.
If you can hire a private tutor, or have live-in child care, you can balance being a parent and remote schooling.
If you can’t, you have to do your job and be a teacher all at once.
Jill and I just held a briefing on reopening schools safely two days ago, asking the questions we hear from so many parents and educators who feel like they are in an impossible situation: What are we supposed to do with our children when the president has made it so hard for schools to reopen safely?
What’s the alternative when it’s devastating to keep them isolated from their friends and support system?
I also said earlier this week, to the shock of many, that we have lost more cops this year to covid than when they’re on patrol.
It’s a reminder how a dangerous job — law enforcement — has gotten more dangerous due to Trump’s mismanagement.
What may be just as shocking as that is many other jobs have also become dangerous due to Covid.
Being a health care worker is now more dangerous than ever — we’ve lost hundreds of them this year because they weren’t protected from COVID on the job.
Being a meat packer is more dangerous — so many have died due to getting COVID at work.
Work for waiters and waitresses and transit workers has all become more dangerous with so many dying of COVID.
Ladies and gentlemen, no matter what he says or what he claims, you are not safer in Donald Trump’s America. You are not safe in Trump’s America where people are dying at a rate last seen when Americans were fighting in World War II.
Donald Trump’s malpractice during this pandemic has made being a working American life-or-death work.
And while there’s a disproportionate impact on Black, Latino, Asian American, and Native American working class communities — white working class communities are being hit hard, too.
Opioid deaths, for example, are up during the pandemic —another crisis that President Trump all but ignores.
In the meantime, Trump and his friends have strong views about what the rest of America should do:
Cut unemployment benefits to force people to go back on their jobs.
Defund Social Security and eliminate Obamacare — in the middle of a pandemic.
Reopen public schools without resources or guidance.
Reopen businesses without protection for workers so corporations can continue to soar
This is their plan?
Second, and similarly, the economic pain remains unrelenting for millions of working people of every race and background who aren’t getting the relief they need.
Meanwhile the wealthy are doing just fine, if not better than ever.
This divergence in fortune is unique to any recession in recent memory.
And the painful truth is we have a president who just doesn’t see it.
Who doesn’t feel it. Who doesn’t understand. He just doesn’t care.
He thinks if the stock market is up, then everything is great.
If his rich friends and donors are doing well, then everyone is doing well.
If corporations see their valuations rising — then they must be hiring.
But even the best economists know what I know growing up in neighborhoods in Scranton, Pennsylvania and Claymont, Delaware — places where folks aren’t invested in the market like wealthier Americans.
The measure of our economic success is the quality of life of the American people. And if our stocks soar as families teeter on the brink of hunger and homelessness — and our president calls that a success — what does that say about what he values?
When you see the world in such a narrow way, it’s no wonder he doesn’t see the nearly 30 million Americans on unemployment, and 1 in 6 small businesses that are closed right now.
He doesn’t understand what life is like for people walking by their boarded up shop — educators afraid that doing the job they love will bring the virus home to the people they love — or a parent searching for health insurance now that the furlough has turned into a layoff.
It’s no wonder he doesn’t see the single mom forced to wait in a three-hour food line for the first time in her life because she’s now part of a record 1 in 6 households with children that don’t have enough food to eat.
He wants us to believe that we’re doing better — to keep it up while we’re still in a deep, deep hole —and our country faces a historic divergence in our way of life.
Which gets to my third point and final point — and what the American people really need to understand — all the pain and suffering stems from President Trump’s failure to lead.
His sheer inability and unwillingness to bring people together.
He likes to sign executive actions for photo ops. But they are ill-conceived and could do more harm than good.
He says he is protecting renters from eviction, but he’s not giving them any support to pay their rent.
Millions of Americans will ultimately be left with a terrible choice between eviction and living on the street — or paying back rent they simply don’t have.
He says he is continuing to provide enhanced unemployment insurance payments — but he cut the amount for everyone on it and will leave them on the edge when it runs out in a few weeks or sooner.
What he should be doing is calling Congressional leaders together — immediately — to get a deal that delivers real relief to the American people.
If I were president, that’s what I would do — and I’d get it done.
Rental, food, unemployment assistance to tens of millions of struggling Americans.
Student loan relief, small business support, and aid to schools and state governments. And as long as this pandemic and the accompanying economic catastrophe persist, no one should have their water or their power cut off because they can’t afford to pay the bill.
Bottom line, Mr. President — do your job.
Get off your golf course and out of the sand bunker. Call the leaders of Congress together. Get them into the Oval Office. Make a deal that delivers for working people.
In July, I laid out my Build Back Better plan for an economy that works for everyone.
Over the next three weeks, I will be laying out the sharp contrast with President Trump.
I’ll be asking the American people three basic questions: Who can handle the pandemic? Who can keep their promises? Who cares about and will fight for working families?
Like the people here at West End. Throughout this pandemic, they found a way to keep the center open safely to provide their critical services.
No one was laid off. They adjusted their space for social distancing. They started a lending program to help local small businesses.
They continued their child care services, which is critical for so many working families. By pure courage, heart and gut, they never give up and they never give in as they pursue the full promise of America.
That’s the story of the people of this community and of this country. That’s who we are.
Give ordinary Americans just a half a chance and they will do extraordinary things.
They’ll never let America down — and unlike the current President — I won’t either.