THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I want to thank you, Jamie, for inviting us to have this conversation and for the courage of — of your story and your ability to tell it. I know it’s not easy.
And when we talk about this issue, there are at least 8 million — in some estimates, as many as 60 million — people in America who are in this middle generation who are raising their children while taking care of their parents. And the demands on them that are the demands of what is required on a daily basis — the physical demands, the emotional demands, the financial demands — are immense.
And the skills that are required are very diverse and often require a lot of study and training. It is taking care of children, which requires, of course, everything from meal preparation and feeding children, to homework, to helping them tie their shoes, getting them to bed on time.
The skills that are required to take care of parents and aging parents — again, yes, meal preparation, but also taking them to doctor’s appointments or chemotherapy appointments, the unpredictability of when they might have a fall or take a fall or would require immediate and sudden and unpredictable healthcare.
And all of this mostly carried by women and working women in America who have had to leave their chosen profession and their job to do this very important work that is work that is born out of love and a sense of noble duty and commitment. But tireless — tireless in terms of the work that is required.
Jamie talked with me about the fact that she wakes up at the crack of dawn every day. She is never sure, when the phone rings what it might be, in terms of the urgent need of somebody she loves to have her support and her help and her aid.
So Build Back Better is born out of a sense of what Joe Biden — the President and I feel is our collective responsibility as a society to support parents, to support the children of parents in the work that is noble, good, and important work.
Build Back Better is focused on human infrastructure, as well as roads and bridges. Infrastructure, I define as: What do you need to get where you need to go? And sometimes, a parent just needs to go to sleep. (Laughter.) Right?
And so, what do we need to do? And that’s about the caregiving economy. That’s about understanding the nobility of the people who do that work, which is physical work, emotional work. We don’t pay them enough — no sick leave, no paid family leave.
And so, Build Back Better is constructed in a way that understands that to allow families to function in the way that we want them to be able to function, we’ve got to, as a society, give them the support.
Eldercare — Build Back Better is about saying that seniors and our elderly relatives, they’ve lived a long life of hard work and they want to stay in their home, but they may need to build some bars so that it helps them get through — physically — through the house. They may need a ramp if they — if they use a wheelchair. Let’s give them the resources to be able to live in their home, which is where they want to stay, with dignity.
And by the way, all of society benefits not only because it’s the right thing to do — it’s actually less expensive than requiring our seniors to go into some assisted facility.
So, the conversation that we have had is really, I hope, about making clear that there are very real people, families — hardworking families — that are behind the policies and the effort of our Build Back agenda, which is to support these families in a way that if they were our neighbor or a relative of ours, we’d all want to do.
So, there we are, and thank you again for allowing us —
MS. SMITH: Thank you.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: — to be in your home.
MS. SMITH: And care can’t wait. And I know you are working so hard —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yes.
MS. SMITH: — to try to solve that problem.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yes. Yes.
MS. SMITH: Thank you.