Joe Biden plans to announce on Tuesday a $775-billion proposal to overhaul the nation’s caregiving system, efforts that he will argue can create 3 million jobs while freeing up millions of people — largely women and people of color — to enter the workforce.
The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee’s plan includes measures to expand care for children, the elderly and the disabled. Some of the boldest proposals — such as providing free universal preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds and creating tax credits to help pay for child care — come as the needs of parents struggling to balance caring for their children while working have been thrown into sharp relief by the COVID-19 pandemic and as many schools are opting against in-person instruction in the fall.
“These plans are really about easing the squeeze that working families all over this country are feeling every day,” said a senior campaign official who briefed reporters about the proposal Monday. “Our country is experiencing a caregiving crisis. This crisis existed before COVID, but COVID has shone a bright light on these issues…. The problem has gotten so much worse.”
The caregiving proposal is the third plank of Biden’s four-part “Build Back Better” plan to rebuild the United States’ economy, which has been ravaged by the coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent displacement of millions of American workers.
This month, Biden unveiled a $700-billion proposal to reinvigorate the nation’s manufacturing sector and a $2-trillion effort to build new renewable energy infrastructure. The final piece of his plan, expected in coming weeks, will seek to address racial inequity in the nation’s economy in areas such as housing, education and entrepreneurship opportunities.
Biden would pay for ongoing costs in the overall package in part by rolling back some of President Trump’s tax cuts for corporations and by raising taxes on the wealthy. The cost of the expanded caregiving — $775 billion over a decade — would be paid by rolling back tax loopholes on real estate investors with incomes over $400,000 and making the wealthy pay all the taxes they owe, according to the campaign. A senior Biden campaign advisor said the efforts to make sure the wealthy comply with tax laws alone could raise “hundreds of billions of dollars.”
The former vice president is laying out these proposals as voters’ attitudes about who would be a better steward of the economy are shifting. Though Biden has had a sustained lead in national polling and an advantage in battleground state surveys, Trump held an edge in voters’ trust of his handling of the economy.
But with millions of laid-off Americans seeking government assistance and businesses struggling to remain open during the pandemic, that advantage has evaporated into an effective tie. A Fox News poll released Sunday found voters trusted Biden to do a better job on the economy, 44% to 43%. In an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Saturday, voters favored Trump 47% to 45%.
Though Biden eschewed some of the most liberal Democratic policies during the primaries, such as Medicare for All and tuition-free college for all, the Trump campaign is trying to paint him as a figurehead who will channel the party’s most liberal voices on issues including the economy.
“Joe Biden would impose an avalanche of regulations on our economy, stifling our recovery and costing American jobs,” Vice President Mike Pence said Friday in the battleground state of Wisconsin. Biden’s agenda, Pence said, would “transform this country into something utterly unrecognizable.”
Biden will formally unveil the caregiving proposal Tuesday afternoon in New Castle, Del. But his campaign advisors previewed several components Monday.
In addition to creating free universal preschool, Biden would offer low- and middle-income families up to $8,000 in tax credits to help pay for child care and would have the federal government partially subsidize the cost of child care for some low-income and middle-class families. He would create a new tax credit to nudge businesses to build day-care centers on site, and would expand access to supervision programs during non-school hours.
Biden’s plan would also increase pay and benefits for early-childhood instructors to make them commensurate with those of elementary school teachers, and it would encourage collective bargaining and unionization.
Biden’s plan would add 150,000 community healthcare workers in the nation’s neediest communities and create a Public Health Jobs Corps of another 100,000. Some 35,000 workers would be trained to target the opioid crisis and drug abuse.
Biden will also pledge to eliminate the Medicaid waiting list of 800,000 people needing home healthcare or community services.