Joe Biden Gonna Make America A Nanny State, Literally
Joe Biden is in full big policy proposal mode these days, releasing plans for rebuilding the economy and addressing climate change, and now putting out his plan for creating a "21st Century Caregiving and Education Workforce" to provide child care and more care options for older Americans. He's not just borrowing a lot of ideas from Elizabeth Warren's campaign; he's also adopted her strategy of spelling out how each major policy proposal fits with the others to create a coherent plan for a fairer, more equal America for everyone. As we've noted before, this is no longer last year's timid centrist Joe Biden; this is Joe Biden cosplaying FDR to meet the current crisis, and that binder under his arm labeled "New Deal" isn't just a bunch of blank pages.
As with his other plans, Biden starts with the pandemic, but emphasizes that the COVID-19 crisis has been made worse by our country's preexisting conditions.
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. People in nursing homes have been hit especially hard by the coronavirus, shining a bright light on the fact that many would prefer to be in a home or community based setting. And, many parents are struggling to find child care while they go to their essential jobs, or find themselves as 24/7 caregivers trying to keep their children safe and learning while working remotely.
Also like those other plans, Biden's $775 billion proposal emphasizes not just how the investments he wants to make will help people on the receiving end of new services, but also how these programs will create jobs, both directly for the people providing the services and by allowing people the freedom to pursue work outside the home if they want. It's all logical and stuff, but falls down terribly in explaining how it will lead to more boat parades.
Biden unveiled the plan in a speech Tuesday in New Castle, Delaware, along with a written version posted to Medium. (Pro-tip to the staffers who posted the plan: If you're going to say it was written by Joe Biden, use "I will..." instead of "Biden will..." Otherwise it sounds weird.)
Joe Biden Unveils $775 Billion 'Build Back Better' Plan to Boost Child and Elderly Care youtu.be
Biden noted that he knows a thing or two about what it's like to have your hands full, since he was a single dad to his two sons after the 1972 car accident that killed his wife and baby daughter and seriously injured the boys. "Even though I had a lot more support than a lot of people going through tough times today, it was hard. It was hard." He also pointed out that he and his second wife, Jill Biden, had "cared for our parents at the end. My dad was months in hospice in our home, same with my mom," and that his entire family had helped to take care of his oldest son Beau, before his 2015 death from brain cancer.
Biden didn't need to add that at no point in his life has he ever cut off medical care for a seriously ill baby nephew because he was mad at the kid's parents, because Joe Biden is a functioning human being who knows what empathy is.
For starters, Biden would pass immediate support for state, local, and tribal governments to "keep workers employed and keep vital public services running, including direct care and child care services." Beyond that emergency stuff, the plan would build up "the infrastructure of care" to make sure that working families have access to quality child care, and that older adults and folks with disabilities can live at home or in community-based care.
The three main chunks of the proposal involve 1) Making childcare more broadly available for pre-kindergarten kids, including universal preschool for three- and four-year-olds; 2) Improving care options for elderly people and Americans with disabilities, with an emphasis on non-institutional care for those who want it; and 3) Improving pay and career advancement options for people working as caregivers.
The childcare part of the plan would use tax credits and sliding-scale subsidies to make sure young children can be cared for in settings that work for parents and kids. That would include tax credits to encourage employers to build on-site daycare centers (and as one example of the kind of granular detail the plan gets into, there would also be requirements that such facilities be built to be "energy efficient, climate resilient, developmentally appropriate places to learn and accessible for children with disabilities." And to qualify for the construction tax credit, they'd have to be built using union labor, damn it.
The plan also would expand the pool of early childhood educators, to make sure there are enough people to provide care, and make sure they're well-trained in child development.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren made the case for childcare as part of the "basic infrastructure" for the American economy in an interview with Stephanie Ruhle yesterday, arguing that the costs would be more than balanced out by the economic benefits for the nation:
Sen. Warren On Lack Of PPP Oversight: 'This Cannot Become Our New Normal' | Stephanie Ruhle | MSNBC youtu.be
For elder care and assistance to adults with disabilities, Biden calls for increasing Medicaid funding to states to eliminate the existing waitlist for home and community services, which currently stands at about 800,000 people; they can wait as long as five years to get services (holy crap). Beyond that, Biden proposes an "innovation fund" to expand home and community care and help people stay out of nursing homes, as well as hiring 150,000 community health workers in under-served communities, to help address racial disparities in health and for people living in poverty.
Biden also proposes a "Public Health Jobs Corps" to mobilize 100,000 Americans to work in local settings to fight infectious disease — COVID-19 at first, and then later to make sure we have the public health workers needed to address future public health crises, as well as other current challenges like the opioid crisis. One reason we got into this mess is that public health has constantly been under-funded, so how about we not do that going forward?
For the people who do all the work — disproportionately women of color, he reminds us — Biden wants to see a living wage, so people can actually make a living, with the additional benefit that the industry's current huge turnover could be reduced, which would mean more continuity of care. Biden calls for higher wages, benefits, training, and opportunities to advance, and let's not forget the right to unionize, which you may have noticed is kind of a thing with Biden.
While he was at it, Biden also promised to sign the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights Act sponsored by Sen. Kamala Harris and Rep. Pramila Jayapal, which would extend to domestic workers many of the labor rights they've been shut out of going all the way back to the original New Deal, when southern segregationists refused to support the package unless jobs primarily held by Black workers were excluded from provisions like Social Security and the right to unionize.
CNBC rather pointedly mentions that this proposal distinguishes Joe Biden from the sitting "president," who
has yet to unveil a specific plan to address child care and family leave, although the issue has drawn attention in the past from Trump's daughter and senior White House aide, Ivanka Trump. In December of last year, the White House even held a summit on child care and paid leave, at which Trump promised to "really help" working parents. "We're going to help them, and we're going to help them a lot," Trump added.
Sure there was a bit of a pandemic that came along, but unlike golf, the whole family leave thing slipped Donald Trump's mind. Lots of help on the way, though, the very best help.
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.