Patrick Semansky/AP
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event in Wilmington, Delaware, July 14, 2020. Mr. Biden’s $775 billion proposal is the third plank of a larger plan to rebuild the post-coronavirus economy.

Biden suggests a new focus for US economy: Elderly, child care

Joe Biden’s latest plan to revive the economy focuses on improving elderly and child care, spending $775 billion to create 3 million jobs. The pandemic revealed flaws in the U.S. caregiving system, Mr. Biden says, but it is also an opportunity for job growth. 

Joe Biden wants to spend more than three-quarters of a trillion dollars to dramatically improve care for older Americans, bolster low-income families’ tax credits, and provide preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds – part of the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee’s larger plan to remake an economy ravaged by the coronavirus.

Unveiled Tuesday, the proposal is slated to cost $775 billion over 10 years and is designed to create 3 million new jobs caring for older people and providing improved early education to children. Mr. Biden promises to pay for it by reducing tax breaks for real estate investors with annual incomes of $400,000-plus, while also increasing compliance with existing tax law for high earners.

The former vice president is planning to provide more details during an afternoon speech near his home in Wilmington, Delaware.

“The pandemic has laid bare just how hard it is for people in this country to find access to quality caregiving they need for themselves, or to juggle the responsibilities of working and also caring for family members,” Mr. Biden campaign’s wrote in a 10-page announcement of the plan.

It marks the third plank of Mr. Biden’s larger plan to rebuild the post-coronavirus economy, following a $2 trillion environmental proposal he released last week and a $700 billion plan unveiled the week before seeking to increase government purchasing of U.S.-based goods and invest in new research and development. Mr. Biden is attempting to illustrate for voters how the coronavirus can present opportunities for job growth and new policy priorities in contrast to President Donald Trump, who has promised to rebuild the economy stronger than ever but otherwise struggled to articulate what he hopes to accomplish with a second term.

Senior Biden campaign officials described the care-giving plan as a “core pillar” of their candidate’s economic recovery plan, saying on a conference call with reporters that it was an important key to “getting people back to work” in the wake of the pandemic and the rising unemployment it sparked.

Under the proposal, Mr. Biden vows to provide for the estimated 800,000 people waiting for home and community services under Medicaid. He wants to expand alternatives to institutional care for all older Americans while helping veterans by filling tens of thousands of vacancies at Veterans Affairs facilities around the country. He also pledges to train and hire 150,000 new community health workers in underserved communities, and 35,000 more to combat the opioid crisis besides creating a 100,000-member public health job corps.

The Biden campaign noted that the coronavirus is forcing schools to close and has left many parents desperately juggling full-time jobs and child care, but its plan argues that “even before the pandemic, millions of parents struggled to find a space for their child in a quality care and educational setting, keeping parents – primarily mothers – out of the workforce.”

Mr. Biden says he can fix that with a joint federal-state universal prekindergarten program while also offering low-income and middle-class families an up to $8,000 tax credit to help pay for child care. He plans to offer pay increases to child caregivers and early educators and bonuses to child care providers working during nontraditional hours, while expanding families’ access to after-school, weekend, and summer care.

Mr. Biden also plans to increase the number of child care facilities around the country by offering tax credits for and direct federal funding to businesses willing to build them.

“Our nation faced a massive shortage of child care facilities before the pandemic,” Mr. Biden’s plan announcement says, “and the shortage has only intensified since then.”

This story was reported by The Associated Press.

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