WHAT THEY’RE SAYING: AMERICAN JOBS & FAMILIES PLANS NEEDED TO BUILD BACK EQUITABLY

Moody’s Analytics’ Mark Zandi“The real idea behind the American Jobs Plan and the companion American Families Plan is about lifting long-term economic growth… and making sure the benefits of that growth go largely to lower- and middle-income households.” 

Voters, elected officials, and experts all agree that the public investments in the American Jobs and Families Plans will help America build back equitably and set everyone — regardless of their race, income, or ZIP code — up for success in a 21st century economy.

Here’s what they’re saying:

NBC News: Redefining infrastructure would be a boon to women, lower-income and minority workers
President Joe Biden has proposed a sweeping change to how officials — and, ultimately, average Americans — define infrastructure. The bulk of his $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal is oriented towards health care and caregiving rather than highways and airports. Defining infrastructure to include big, labor-intensive industries like home health services is a key step to making the American Jobs Plan actually live up to its title.

Traditional infrastructure jobs in fields like construction and logistics would boost employment prospects for some workers, but could also risk leaving behind many of the people whose livelihoods vanished during the pandemic. A growing body of research on the American labor market finds that job losses disproportionately fell on women, less-educated people, nonwhite and low-income workers, particularly in service sectors like leisure and hospitality.
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“The real idea behind the American Jobs Plan and the companion American Families Plan is about lifting long-term economic growth… and making sure the benefits of that growth go largely to lower- and middle-income households,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.

NBC News: Are homes infrastructure? Biden’s proposal says better housing policy will improve access, affordability
The White House’s American Jobs Plan pushes the envelope on the definition of infrastructure, making the argument that where Americans live is a foundational component of the economy. The plan as proposed by the White House would funnel $213 billion into shoring up the nation’s supply of housing, with a focus on affordable housing and more inclusive neighborhoods.

While the proposal’s status in a divided Congress is far from certain, advocates and housing policy experts say it includes elements that could rein in the spiraling costs faced by homeowners and renters and foster greater housing accessibility in historically marginalized neighborhoods and communities.

“It’s an important part of a neighborhood strategy of revitalization [and] also an important part of expanding homeowner access to homeowners of color,” said Chris Herbert, managing director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. For millions of Americans, he said, “the opportunity to live in homes that are good quality and in communities that are on an upward trajectory are limited.”

Bloomberg: How Climate-Proofing Mass Transit Can Make Cities More Equitable
Researchers using an in-depth case study of the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority in Boston have come up with an equation to prioritize repairs. Their quantitative formula breaks new ground by adding two variables system managers haven’t always considered: threats from climate change, and making the systems more equitable by protecting the most vulnerable users.

Jesse Keenan, a professor at Tulane University and a co-author of the report, said that cities have historically approached infrastructure management from an engineering perspective, which means hardening the system’s weakest points against catastrophic events. To social scientists, however, resilience means ensuring that the most vulnerable communities will continue to be served. The goal of this latest paper is to help city managers balance both.

“It’s critically important to prioritize the needs of historically marginalized communities,” Keenan said. Not only do they make up “a mountain of the ridership,” they’re also hurt the most when the system fails, “even for just an hour or two. That’s lost wages and extra childcare costs,” he said.

Newsweek: The American Families Plan Is a Once-In-A-Lifetime Opportunity For Rural America | Opinion
A quality education system is the bedrock of an active, vibrant economy and a pathway to opportunity for our children. When we invest in education, we’re not only investing in their future but also the future of American competitiveness. We’re helping to secure their economic future as well as our own.
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As Governor of Montana, I worked with Democrats and Republicans in advancing a long term, sustainable publicly funded preschool program. Our initial pilot program showed a 21 percent overall increase in school readiness, with 93 percent of participants ready for kindergarten at the end of the year. On average, 97 percent of family survey respondents felt engaged with the preschool classroom and their child’s education.
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President Biden’s focus on lifting up rural folks is a welcome change in our country. I urge all Americans to call their members of Congress and tell them to support the American Families Plan—not just for themselves, but for the next generation.

The Missouri Times: Opinion: The American Jobs Plan is vital to urban and rural America alike
As mayors of the largest and smallest city along the Mississippi River, we both face an equally stark choice: address the mutually dire infrastructure backlog that exists for both urban and rural America now, or stand back and watch as it continues to crumble.

A plan that simply replaces infrastructure, rather than addressing what it encompasses, will be ineffective and ultimately unaffordable. We need larger policy solutions that incentivize, propagate, and arrange a total adoption of resilience, sustainability, and climate mitigation through our economy or all we rebuild will wash away in the next multi-billion-dollar disaster. 
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Post-pandemic, the bipartisan passage of an infrastructure bill has never been more important. Our 10 state corridor has suffered from a systemic lack of investment, and disasters have cost us over $210 billion in actual losses since 2005. The need for action is clear. This type of package will bring much-needed funding in all the areas of our economy and will benefit our nation well into the future if the plan includes multi-lateral solutions like the SMRT Act. We urge Congress to place the SMRT Act in the American Jobs Plan and pass it before the cost of restoration increases beyond what our economy can muster. 

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