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.
Lower Prescription Drug Costs. Americans pay 2-3 times more for their prescription drugs than people in other wealthy countries, contributing to the fact that Black individuals use 10 to 40 percent fewer medications than their White counterparts for the same illnesses. 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 62.6 percent of all three- and four-year-old Black children are enrolled in preschool or kindergarten programs. President Biden’s plan lowers child care costs and makes universal preschool a reality for all three and four year-olds, 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, which will help improve Black maternal health outcomes and reduce wage losses that cause persistent earning and wealth gaps for Black women.
Lower Health Care Costs. Almost 3.9 million Black people 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 360,000 Black people save an average of $50 per person per month. The plan also adds dental, vision, and hearing coverage for the more than 5.8 million Black people 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 Historically Black Colleges and Universities and 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.30 percent of Black renters pay over half their income in rent. The Plan’s investments help lower housing costs and increase 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. 22.1 percent of Black people 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 3 million Black people in the U.S. a major tax cut – cutting the Black poverty rate by 34.3 percent. This is especially critical for the 85% of Black women who are either sole or co-breadwinners for their families.
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 disproportionately impacting students. Only about 7 percent of our nation’s public school teachers are Black, even though Black students make up 15 percent of public school students. President Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda will advance educational equity by upgrading school infrastructure, addressing teacher shortages and improving teacher preparation, increasing the diversity of the teacher pipeline, and expanding free school meals to an additional 9.3 million children during the school year and helping families purchase food during the summer.
Read about the President’s full Build Back Better Agenda here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/build-back-better/