Biden — On Tuesday, President Joe Biden signed an executive order that seeks to expand access to care for children, disabled Americans, and the elderly.
The decision marks a sense of urgency and importance regarding the issue as Biden prepares to run for a second term.
A call to arms
President Joe Biden is asking nearly every federal agency across more than 50 executive actions to expand care options without resorting to spending.
Biden has long pressed for the easing of care cost burdens.
However, during his first term, Congress has largely blocked his efforts.
Biden spoke from the Rose Garden before signing the executive order, saying:
“We’re using the power of the federal government to get companies to do what’s good for workers and, I might add, good for business, as well.”
“And folks, care workers deserve to make a decent living and that’s a fight I’m willing to have.”
The White House stands in the face of steep opposition against many of the social-spending proposals in the Republican-majority House.
Last month, Biden asked Congress for $750 billion funding dedicated to care for the next decade in his budget proposal.
The president’s plan is a variation of a proposal he touted during his campaign trail in an effort to create a “21st Century Caregiving and Education Workforce.”
However, the administration failed to pass a drastic reimagining of dependent care over Biden’s first two years as the United States president.
The failure can be boiled down to Democrats opposing the new taxes and spending necessary to make it happen.
The White House, advocates, and congressional Democrats said the plans would provide an economic boost, creating jobs and allowing employees with dependents more flexibility to work.
On Monday, a senior administration official held a call with reporters and previewed the executive action.
According to the official, President Biden is focused on doing everything he can to improve access himself.
“This is a case where the president is working hard on the investment angle, has worked hard with Congress – that has not worked out quite as well,” said the official.
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According to White House data, the cost of care for the elderly and people with disabilities surged by 40% in the last decade.
During that period, the cost of child care climbed by 26%.
In the past three decades, child care costs surged by more than 200%.
The White House also referred to data from Boston Consulting Group, which estimates that economic output could potentially drop $290 billion a year by 2030 if the care pitfalls aren’t fixed.
In addition, the White House reported that 76% of parents reported they were struggling to access affordable, dependable care, even before the global pandemic.
A second term
Biden’s decision to move forward without congressional action signals the importance of the issue ahead of his expected reelection bid.
Despite how irked conservatives are with costs, the White House has always maintained that Biden’s social-policy agenda has been highly popular with the American public.
With a second term in sight, there could be indications of a renewed focus on pushing through with many of his promises he wasn;t able to pass with his ambitious Build Back Better agenda.
Even when Democrats held both chambers of Congress, the agenda was too difficult to happen.
Although the Democratic-controlled Congress pushed for parts of Biden’s broad, social-spending proposal, it cut out a couple of policies, including the ambitious child-care program.
During the call, Domestic Policy Council Director Susan Rice said:
“Too many families are struggling to afford or access high-quality care, and too many care workers are struggling to make a living doing this critically important work.”
“The president’s not going to wait to take action to address our nation’s care crisis.”
In the executive order, President Joe Biden asked Cabinet-level agencies to flag grant programs that could be used to fund care for children and long-term care for workers involved in federal projects.
The plan also plots ways they can improve access to in-home care for veterans, promote care for worker unionization, increase pay for early childhood educators, and improve the job quality of caregiving workers.
Furthermore, the White House is considering requiring companies trying to gain federal funds for job creation to create expanded access to workers’ care benefits.
The Commerce Department in March mandated that companies looking to secure funds from the $52 billion semiconductor manufacturing and research program to figure out how they would assist their workforce access child care.