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Saunders calls Biden’s Build Back Better deal a ‘sea change’ for working families

Photo credit: Getty.
By Pete Levine ·

After President Joe Biden shared the details of his roughly $1.8 trillion Build Back Better framework on Thursday, AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued a statement in which he called the proposal a “sea change moment” that will prioritize the needs of working families.

“For decades, we have confronted a rigged system that has starved working people of opportunity while rewarding and privileging the super-wealthy. Finally, that’s changing,” Saunders said.

“We need a sturdy foundation for an economy that prioritizes the needs and interests of working people. That’s what Build Back Better is all about. The framework represents a fundamental shift in the priorities of the federal government. It is the biggest hand-up to working families in generations, while requiring that the wealthy and big corporations begin paying their fair share in taxes,” Saunders said.

He called the plan a “transformational investment” that would fund health care, education, climate change and more. Together with a $1.2 trillion package to rebuild roads, bridges, and water systems and more, which would create millions of middle-class union jobs, the Build Back Better deal represents a generational investment in human and physical infrastructure.

The plan would create universal pre-kindergarten education for 3- and 4-year-olds, a “landmark achievement,” said Saunders. It would also give 20 million kids access to quality child care and provide free school meals to 8.7 million children during the school year. It would expand access to home care for seniors and people with disabilities, and also create a $35 billion hearing aid benefit for those on Medicare. Those are just a few examples of the sweeping investments included in the Build Back Better deal.

Saunders lauded the plan’s scope for its unprecedented expansion of affordable housing, as well as its clean energy tax credits and other climate change mitigation elements worth a total of $555 billion. Not only will it improve millions upon millions of lives, but AFSCME members will be instrumental in delivering the additional services provided in the bill.

According to the White House, the plan would be paid for by asking corporations and the wealthy to pay their fair share in taxes.

While not every priority for working families was included in the bill, Saunders noted that, “They are not being abandoned, only deferred.”

AFSCME will continue to work on limiting the rising cost of prescription drugs for people of all ages and will continue to fight for paid family leave and free community college, among other things.

“This is a huge, sea change moment,” said Saunders. “The passage of these two bills would close the book on the age of austerity. It would take critical steps toward unrigging the system, restoring balance to the economy, and finally reinvesting in working families and communities. On behalf of 1.4 million AFSCME members, I urge Congress to pass them both immediately.”

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