Biden touts March jobs gain as recovery accelerates
President Biden on Friday touted a stellar March jobs report but argued that a full recovery from the coronavirus pandemic depended on the passage of his $2.5 trillion infrastructure plan.
In remarks at the White House on Friday, the president hailed the economy’s stunning gain of 916,000 jobs in March as a promising sign of progress against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Economists had expected the U.S. to add roughly 675,000 jobs last month and attributed March’s hiring surge to accelerating COVID-19 vaccinations and rising confidence across the economy.
Even so, Biden argued that the rebound from the pandemic could slip away without the enactment of his American Rescue Plan, a massive investment in the U.S. economy funded by corporate tax hikes.
“In the face of this great news, I need also to make this clear and direct statement to the American people: Progress we’ve worked so hard to achieve can be reversed,” Biden said.
“As we get the economy back on his feet, we need to do the hard work of building back better — for good, not just for a while, but for good.”
REPORTER: How much credit are you taking for today’s [jobs] numbers?
BIDEN: I’m giving credit to the American people pic.twitter.com/czlsf1QBQu
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 2, 2021
Republican lawmakers have come out in opposition to Biden’s plan, arguing it is too expensive and that the corporate tax rate should not be hiked to 28 percent from 21 percent to pay for it. The corporate tax rate was lowered in tax-cut legislation spearheaded by former President Trump and a GOP Congress in 2017.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Thursday that he would fight tooth and nail against Biden’s proposal, and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said Biden has failed “to live up to the bipartisanship he preached in his inaugural address.”
When asked about the criticism from Republicans, Biden predicted that GOP lawmakers could feel the wrath of their constituents if they refuse to support a bill that, among other things, would funds Veterans Affairs hospitals and replaces lead pipes.
“I think the Republicans’ voters are going to have a lot to say about whether we get this done,” Biden said.
Over eight years, the Biden proposal would fund projects to repair 20,000 miles of roads and 10,000 bridges, expand broadband access to rural and underserved communities, replace all of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines, invest in research and development and manufacturing, and expand access to home and community-based care.
Infrastructure repair has been a priority for Democrats, and many Republicans, for ages. But Biden has argued his plan is an essential step toward ensuring an equitable recovery and helping the U.S. conquer other challenges ahead.
“It’s a once-in-a-generation investment in our economic future — a chance to win the future, paid for by asking big corporations, many of which do not pay any taxes at all, just to begin to pay their fair share,” Biden said.
The White House is hoping to get Biden’s infrastructure bill through Congress and onto his desk by the summer, press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday. Democrats are also preparing to use budget reconciliation to pass the bill with simple majorities in the House and Senate, averting the need for Republican support.
Biden said that while he plans to work for Republican support and is willing to compromise, he will not let GOP lawmakers delay the bill’s passage.
“Debate is welcome. Compromising is inevitable. Changes in my plan are certain. But inaction is not an option,” he said.
“Congress should debate my plan, change it, and offer alternatives if they think that’s what they have to do. But Congress should act.”