President Biden on Wednesday met with corporate executives from major companies about his Build Back Better proposal, arguing the benefits of the climate and child care provisions of it on the economy.
“The bottom line is, a lot of folks refer to this as just social spending. But I see it this way, the Build Back Better plan lowers prices for families and gets people working. It creates the best educated workforce hopefully in the world and ensures it remains the most dynamic and productive economy in the world,” Biden said.
The in-person meeting at the White House, which included CEOs who are supportive of passing Build Back Better, included General Motors CEO Mary Barra, Ford CEO Jim Farley, Microsoft President Brad Smith and Cummins CEO Tom Linebarger, among others.
The meeting mostly focused on the climate provisions of the proposal. Biden conceded last week to potentially breaking up the sweeping package, acknowledging that some proposals won’t survive and signaling his openness to exploring what a pared-down bill might look like.
“Our Build Back Better plan … combined with the infrastructure law, we’re making the biggest investment in clean energy manufacturing ever in American history,” Biden said.
Following Biden’s opening remarks, he was asked by press in the room about Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer retiring from the high court, and he responded that he would talk about it later.
“Want to go to the Supreme Court, Tom?” Biden asked Linebarger.
The focus then returned to Build Back Better. Linebarger called climate change the existential crisis of our time and said that he wants to make every effort he can to address it through investments from his company.
Biden touted General Motor’s announcement on Tuesday that the auto giant will invest nearly $7 billion investment in EV manufacturing sites in Michigan.
Barra, at the meeting, said she looks forward to working with Biden and Congress on provisions like electric vehicle tax credits and advanced manufacturing credits, as well as the CHIPS Act, which invest in manufacturing and address the global semiconductor shortage.
Biden also touted Intel’s $20 billion investment to build chip factories, which was announced last week.
Smith, of Microsoft, said he would offer a “full throated endorsement of the climate provisions as well.”
Child care provisions of the agenda were another focus of the meeting, and the president asked the executives how affordable child care could help their businesses.
“My plan cuts in half for most families the cost of that child care, helping their budgets and helping millions of parents, especially women, get back to work,” Biden said, mentioning that universal pre-K, another provision of the agenda, will create “the best educated workforce.”
Smith said that the child care provisions are essential to getting Americans to return to work.
“What we see is, we need to do more to help bring Americans back to work and one of the key ingredients that we see … is that people can only come back to work if they have a way to take care of their children,” he said.
The House passed a $2.2 trillion Build Back Better bill, but it stalled in the Senate, where it doesn’t have support from moderate Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Tuesday predicted that large portions of Biden’s Build Back Better agenda can become law before the midterm elections, listing provisions including universal early education and climate programs.
The Job Creators Network, which opposes the Build Back Better agenda, was critical of the meeting with executives at the White House on Wednesday and called it a “one-two gut punch” for small businesses.
“Biden and big businesses are working in cahoots to stick it to small businesses. It’s a serious problem when two-thirds of all jobs are created by small businesses and Biden has no one there to speak on their behalf,” said Alfredo Ortiz, president and CEO of Job Creators Network.
“Even the scaled-down versions of the spending and climate bills are a one-two gut punch for the same small businesses who are already contending with a labor shortage, ever-rising inflation and energy costs,” he added.