The Biden-Harris administration’s Build Back Better Agenda outlines what officials call an ambitious plan that would position America to turn towards a more sustainable, resilient, equitable and prosperous future.
As Congress mulls the administration’s plan, U.S. Deputy Commerce Secretary Don Graves sketched a picture of the Build Back Better Agenda and how communities of color stand to benefit.
“As our community learns more about the agenda, particularly with the infrastructure bill and the components of the reconciliation bill that’s currently on Capitol Hill, this will have a massive and transformational impact on African Americans and communities of color,” said Graves, a Georgetown Law graduate and four-time great grandson of former slaves, Lynch and Polly Wormley.
“The Build Back Better plan not only is making investments in roads and bridges but it’s also generational and transformational in public transportation. We’re making investments in water because we’ve seen what’s going on in Flint, Michigan, and other places,” Graves continued.
“We need these investments so that our kids are not getting lead poisoning. It’s also about high-speed internet and broadband that’s affordable,” he asserted.
The president said the plan would create jobs, cut taxes and lower costs for working families – “all of it paid for by making the tax code fairer and making the wealthiest and large corporations pay their fair share.”
“It’s critically important to get the dollars approved by Congress to help our communities succeed,” Graves stated.
“Right now, we know that millions of Americans are unable to work because they don’t have access to childcare, or they are underemployed and don’t have anyone to take care of their aging parents.”
“We know women of color are the largest share of the childcare workforce, and this will create jobs for women in our communities and opportunities for small business and infrastructure.”
“We will be able to lay our broadband and fix our water. All these focus on African American communities and other communities of color that haven’t had these types of investments — ever.”
In lowering prescription drug costs, the administration recognizes that Americans pay as much as three times for their prescriptions than those in other wealthy countries.
Administration officials said African Americans use 10-to-40 percent fewer medications than their white counterparts for the same illnesses.
Further, approximately 62.6 percent of all three- and four-year-old Black children have enrolled in preschool or kindergarten programs.
Graves said the Build Back Better Agenda lowers the cost of childcare and makes universal preschool a reality by providing parents access to high-quality programs in the setting of their choice.
The plan also includes 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave which would help improve Black maternal health outcomes and reduce wage losses that cause persistent earning and wealth gaps for African-American women.
Education and housing costs would drop precipitously under the plan and families and children would realize extensive tax cuts, administration officials insisted.
Overall, it would reduce the poverty rate in Black America by nearly 35 percent.
Finally, the plan would also drive vaccinations and the U.S. economy, Graves said.
“When you have people in a situation where they are able to leave their home and go to work, you will bring down the costs for everyone,” he noted.
“We’ve made huge progress with the vaccines, with almost 80 percent of adults vaccinated with at least one shot. If we get more people vaccinated and take the appropriate steps around masking, we will get our arms around COVID-19 and the economy will be so much better,” he said.