One year ago, with the country at a crossroads, President Biden unveiled his Build Back Better Agenda. Facing a raging pandemic, unprecedented economic downturn, profound climate crisis, and persistent racial injustices, President Biden outlined an ambitious agenda that would position America not just to return to where we were, but to build back better towards a more sustainable, resilient, equitable, and prosperous future.
The Build Back Better Agenda includes President Biden’s American Families Plan and key elements of the American Jobs Plan that were not included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure and Investments Act. In Washington, this proposal is known as “reconciliation.” But the bottom line is a plan that will create jobs, cut taxes, and lower costs for working families—all paid for by making the tax code fairer and making the wealthiest and large corporations pay their fair share. President Biden and Vice President Harris have also repeatedly expressed their strong support for including immigration reform in upcoming reconciliation legislation to enable Dreamers, TPS recipients, farmworkers and essential workers to gain long-awaited pathways to citizenship.
Lower Prescription Drug Costs. Americans pay 2-3 times more for their prescription drugs than people in other wealthy countries, and nearly 1 in 4 Americans struggle to afford prescription drugs. President Biden’s plan will lower prescription drug costs for Americans by letting Medicare negotiate drug prices, so consumers are no longer at the whim of pharmaceutical companies.
Lower Child Care Costs. Only 57.9 percent of all three- and four-year-old Asian American children are enrolled in preschool or kindergarten programs and half of Asian American women live in areas where the supply of child care is too low to meet demand. President Biden’s plan lowers child care costs and makes universal preschool a reality, providing parents access to high-quality programs in the setting of their choice. The Build Back Better Agenda would also institute 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave, to help improve the health of new mothers and reduce wage loss.
Lower Health Care Costs. More than 1.5 million AA and NHPIs were uninsured in 2019 before President Biden took office, coverage under the Affordable Care Act (even with the ACA’s premium subsidies) was too expensive for many families, and almost 1.3 million people of color were locked out of coverage because their state refused to expand Medicaid. President Biden’s plan lowers health care costs for those buying coverage through the ACA by extending the American Rescue Plan’s cost savings, which helps 197,000 uninsured AAPI people save an average of $50 per person per month, and allowing more than 150,000 uninsured AAPI people to gain coverage. The plan also adds dental, vision, and hearing coverage for the more than 2.3 million AAPIs on Medicare and closes the Medicaid gap for low-income Americans.
Lower Higher Education Costs. Education beyond high school is increasingly important to succeed in the 21st century economy, even as it has become unaffordable for too many families. The Build Back Better Agenda would provide two years of free community college—boosting the earnings of low-wage high school graduates by nearly $6,000 per year. President Biden’s plan also increases the maximum Pell Grant award by almost $1,500, and invests billions in subsidized tuition for low- and middle-income students at minority-serving institutions. The plan also invests in evidence-based strategies to strengthen completion and retention rates at institutions that serve high numbers of low-income students, particularly community colleges.
Lower Housing Costs.26 percent of Asian American renters and 27 percent of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islander renters pay over half their income in rent. The Plan’s investments help lower housing costs and increases the supply of affordable housing through tax credits and government financing, including constructing and rehabilitating more than one million sustainable rental housing units and more than 500,000 homes working families can afford. It will also make investments to preserve existing public housing as well as remove lead-based paint from housing units.
Tax Cuts for Families with Children. 9 percent of Asian American families and 16 percent of Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander families fall below the poverty line, struggling to pay expenses like food, rent, health care and transportation for their families. President Biden’s plan will extend the Child Tax Credit expansion in the American Rescue Plan, lowering taxes for middle class families by providing the families of more than 66 million kids and nearly 600,000 AAPI people in the U.S. a major tax cut – cutting the AAPI poverty rate by 21.7 percent.
Tax Cuts for Workers Without Children. The President’s agenda permanently extends the American Rescue Plan’s increase to the Earned-Income Tax Credit from $543 to $1,502. This will benefit roughly 17 million low-wage workers, including cashiers, cooks, delivery drivers, food preparation workers, and child care providers.
Workforce Training. The U.S. has chronically underinvested in workforce development, and millions of jobs have been going unfilled in growing sectors such as construction and health care. Through high-quality career and technical education pathways and Registered Apprenticeships, President Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda will invest in training programs that will prepare millions of American workers for high-quality jobs in growing sectors.
Clean Energy Jobs. When President Biden thinks about climate change, he thinks jobs. To position the U.S. to tackle the climate crisis and advance environmental justice, the President’s plan would create good-paying, union jobs, establish an energy efficiency and clean energy standard, expand and extend clean energy and electric vehicle tax credits, and enlist a new Civilian Climate Corps. As part of the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, the Build Back Better Agenda would also restore American manufacturing with R&D investments—including critical investments to compete on clean energy.
Investments in Teachers and Schools. Even before the pandemic, our schools faced an estimated teacher shortage of 100,000, undermining the education of our children and students of color in particular. President Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda will upgrade school infrastructure, address teacher shortages and improve teacher preparation, expand free school meals to an additional 9.3 million children during the school year and help families purchase food during the summer.