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 Deal. 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 Child Care Costs. For 57 percent of children under six, there are no good choices for child care where they live. Only 44 percent of four-year-olds are served by public preschool programs. Nearly four in five private sector workers have no access to paid family leave. The President’s plan would ensure that no middle-class family pays more than 7 percent of their income for high-quality child care up to age 5—and that working families most in need won’t pay anything—saving the average family $14,800 per year. President Biden will also make universal preschool a reality, partnering with states to offer every parent access to high-quality preschool for 3- and 4- year-olds in the setting of their choice. Fully implementing this investment is projected to benefit five million families and save the average American family $13,000 per year. And the Build Back Better Agenda would institute 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave, to help improve the health of new mothers and reduce wage loss.
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 will also increase the maximum Pell Grant award by almost $1,500, and invest billions in subsidized tuition for low- and middle-income students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal 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 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 Health Care Costs. The Build Back Better Agenda would reduce health insurance premiums, saving 9 million people an average of $50 per person per month, and add dental, vision, and hearing coverage to Medicare. By closing the Medicaid gap for low-income Americans, the President’s plan would help 4 million uninsured people gain coverage. President Biden’s agenda would also expand home care for older and disabled Americans, while improving the jobs and the pay of the home care workers who care for them.
Lower Housing Costs. Driven by the largest shortfall of new housing units in 50 years, rents and housing prices continue to increase—with some 10.5 million renters paying more than half their incomes in rent. The Build Back Better Agenda will use tax credits and government financing to bolster affordable and resilient housing, supporting the construction or rehabilitation of more than two million homes.
Tax Cuts for Families with Children. One third of all adults with children struggle to pay their usual expenses. The American Rescue Plan increased the Child Tax Credit from $2,000 per child to $3,000 per child for children over six and $3,600 for children under six. The Build Back Better Agenda will extend the Child Tax Credit expansion in the American Rescue Plan, providing 39 million households and nearly 90 percent of American children a major tax cut and cutting child poverty nearly in half.
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.
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 address teacher shortages and improve teacher preparation, including through teacher residencies and Grow Your Own programs that produce better outcomes and develop more teachers of color. It would expand free school meals to an additional 9.3 million children during the school year and help families purchase food during the summer. And the President’s plan also invests in upgrading school infrastructure, so that we have cutting-edge, energy-efficient, resilient school buildings with technology and labs that will prepare students for the jobs of the future.