Biden plan links improved elder, child care to 3 million new jobs

Third pillar of ‘build back better’ economic revival blueprint earmarks $775bn to ‘caring economy’ over next decade.

Biden caring economy
To fund the 'caring economy', Joe Biden plans to increase taxes on real estate investors with annual incomes of $400,000 or higher, and boost tax compliance by high-income earners [Andrew Harnik/The Associated Press]

Joe Biden on Thursday pledged to invest $775bn across 10 years to improve child care and elder care, with the aim of adding three million jobs to the United States economy. 

Speaking to an audience at an early childhood education programme in New Castle, Delaware, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee told the audience, “This is about easing the squeeze on working families who are raising their kids and caring for ageing loved ones … it’s about creating jobs with better pay and a career pathways for caregivers.”

The initiative promises to add millions of new care and education jobs by expanding funding for home and community care to clear the waiting list for some 800,000 Americans who are currently eligible for those services through Medicaid – the government’s insurance programme for low-income families. The plan also calls for an $8,000 childcare tax credit to low- and middle-income families, guaranteed preschool for all three- and four-year-olds, and the expansion of after-school, weekend and summer care programmes.

The plan further promises to give the nation’s caregivers a raise.

“They’re doing God’s work, and home health workers aren’t paid much,” said Biden, noting that 40 percent of such workers make so little, they receive government assistance for food and healthcare. 

To fund the “caring economy”, Biden plans to tax the rich – specifically by increasing taxes on real estate investors with annual incomes of $400,000 or higher, and making high-earners comply more fully with existing tax laws.

This is the third pillar of Biden’s “build back better” plan to revive the US economy – a blueprint that also promises to invest two trillion dollars during his first four-year term in office on clean energy infrastructure and $700bn in federal funds to promote US manufacturing and innovation.

Each plank attempts to leverage the enormous economic disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic by promoting growth-boosting programmes designed to address long-festering issues, such as climate change, environmental justice, and the struggles of working families.

Key to each component of the plan is the promise to create millions of new, well-paying jobs at a time when the US labour market is under extreme stress, and surging infections across the country threaten the economic recovery.

After a fleeting rebound in early June, job openings in the US are falling again, according to jobs site Glassdoor. Initial jobless claims filed with states – a proxy for layoffs – has been stuck above one million for 17 straight weeks. Some 30 million Americans are currently collecting unemployment, and those livelihoods are poised for an even greater blow when the $600 federal weekly top-up to those benefits ends later this week.

Biden used his speech on Tuesday to convey to voters his understanding of the issue they face by invoking his own personal experiences as both a single and married working parent who also looked after his ageing mother and father.

“The joy and love are always there, but it’s hard. I know it’s hard. It’s really, really hard,” he said.

He also used the rollout to highlight how the pandemic has piled even more pressure on families, while taking aim at President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.

“For all his bluster about his expertise handling the economy, he’s unable to explain how he’ll actually help working families hit the hardest,” said Biden. “You know, he’s quit on you. He’s quit on this country.”

Source: Al Jazeera