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Recovery Priorities

President Joe Biden has put out part one of his Build Back Plan for recovery: the American Jobs Plan. He is expected to put out part two, the American Families Plan soon. Congress has already gotten to work on the recovery package and our partners at the Congressional Progressive Caucus have finalized their policy priorities for recovery.

Now that Progressives have shared priorities, they can negotiate collectively to get these policies in the final recovery package. Progressives have the ability to commit their votes together as a voting bloc and use that leverage in legislative negotiations to secure progressive wins and prevent harmful compromises, and we’re excited to see them use it to win these necessary components of a robust and inclusive recovery.

The CPC Priorities Include:

  1. Pathway to Citizenship
  2. Dramatically Lower Drug Prices & Use Savings to Pay for Public Health Expansion
  3. Investments in Climate
  4. Investments in the Care Economy
  5. Investments in Housing

If this sounds familiar, that’s because it’s what the CPC did for the American Rescue Plan! This play resulted in some huge progressive wins like $1400 checks and extended UI making it into the final bill.

In this resource, we’ll compare the these policy priorities to Biden’s plan and explain:

  • Discuss the Budget process and the need to prioritize the size, scope and speed of recovery.
  • What is key priorities are missing from Biden’s recovery plan
  • What key priorities are included in Biden’s plan, but don’t go far enough
  • What you can do

Size, Scope, Speed

Now that we have key policy priorities to fight for, we must also urge Congress to prioritize expanding the size, scope, and speed of their legislative package. While this may seem like a 1000 foot view of recovery, it’s actually really important given we expect recovery to be passed via reconciliation.

First, the size of the investment matters because the Budget Committee will put out a budget resolution. A budget resolution puts a limit on the overall size of the package Congress can create. It’s really important that the budget resolution allows for the massive investments we need. Second, scope is important because the budget resolution will include instructions to committees about what programs to include. We want the scope of recovery to be broad enough to cover the policy priorities we detailed above. Finally, speed is critical, since Congress can’t begin work on a reconciliation bill until the budget resolution is out, so MOCs will need to work quickly to put together a recovery package. There is no natural deadline tied to recovery like we had with unemployment insurance expiring in the relief fight, so we need to keep the pressure on to make sure this gets done.

Knowing the importance of the size, scope, and speed of recovery, Indivisible, and our partners at the Green New Deal Network have worked closely with Sen. Markey and Rep. Dingell to create the THRIVE Act which demands that the recovery fight be grounded in climate, jobs, and justice and goes big on the size and scope of recovery. THRIVE goes big on size by investing $1 trillion per year for the next 10 years, which economists tell us that this investment would produce more than 15 million good jobs--what we need to end the unemployment crisis!

The scope of THRIVE is ambitious, with the bill touching on many sectors of the economy, including transportation, energy, water, broadband, public lands, care economy, manufacturing, and many more! If we are to address the climate crisis, create good jobs for everyone, and make historic investments in frontline communities to counteract decades of racist policies we must be broad in scope.

Our partners at the CPC are also echoing this call and have sent a letter to leadership demanding they prioritize expanding the size, scope, and speed of their legislative package.

What Is Missing From Recovery?

There are two recovery priorities that are not included in Biden’s plan at all. We must demand Congress include these critical policies in the final recovery package. For more information on what is included in Biden’s American Jobs Plan check out this resource.

Pathway to Citizenship

We know that immigrants, including those without status, are critical members of communities all across the country, and make up a huge percentage of the essential workers who have supported our country through this long, terrifying and devastating pandemic.

We join the CPC in calling for:

  • Citizenship for DACA recipients, TPS holders, and essential workers.
  • Inclusion of all immigrants in the recovery package.
  • If the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that our fates are closely tied. We cannot have a full and inclusive recovery while leaving huge swaths of our communities behind.

Lower Drug Prices & Reinvest Savings Back into Medicare

There is overwhelming public support for taking action to lower the price of prescription drugs in the United States. The American people are tired of spending twice as much per capita on the same prescription drugs that are sold in other industrialized countries for much less. To add insult to injury Americans pay absorbently high prices for drugs that they paid to create, in fact a large portion of the COVID-19 vaccine development was paid for by taxpayers.

Progressives know that any recovery must include robust prescription drug price reforms. We support the CPC in fighting to build from and improve H.R. 3 - Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs

Now Act by including the following policies to the bill:

  • Allow the HHS Secretary to negotiate, limit unreasonably high launch prices, and impose inflation caps on a broad selection of prescription drug prices under Medicare Part D.
  • Enforcement of negotiation and price spike restrictions through tax penalties on pharmaceutical companies.
  • Ensure negotiated prices and inflationary caps on drug prices are available to everyone, including the uninsured and people with private or individual plans.
  • Cap the price of prescription drugs in the United States to the average price in other industrialized countries.
  • Make sure all savings from Medicare negotiations are reinvested back into the Medicare program to lower the age of eligibility, expand benefits to include hearing, dental, and vision, and cap out-of-pocket costs for beneficiaries.

Lowering the age to qualify for the Medicare program is extremely popular among both Democrat and Republican voters. In a 2019 Kaiser Family Foundation survey, nearly 85% of Democrats and 69% of Republicans support this reform. Our Congressional allies know that our older communities should be guaranteed access to comprehensive affordable care.

What Doesn’t Go Far Enough

Biden’s AJP is very broad in scope, touches on many sectors of the economy, and has accompanying standards for investments. This is good! However, the AJP does not spend nearly enough money in these sectors or include the standards necessary to make good policy. To learn more about the scope of the AJP see this resource.

Climate

The AJP includes two important climate policies:

  • Investment in green infrastructure jobs, including through the creation of a Civilian Climate Corps.
  • Establishment of a federal Clean Energy Standard (CES).

While these are good first steps, neither of these policies go far enough to address the crises of mass unemployment, racial injustice or climate change facing our nation.

Biden’s inclusion of a Civilian Climate Corps is another good step, but we need to fill in the details of what this looks like. Luckily, Sen. Markey and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez have introduced the Civilian Climate Corps for Jobs and Justice Act which creates an expanded, improved, and justice-focused Civilian Climate Corps (CCC), which will employ a diverse group of 1.5 million Americans in five years to complete clean energy, climate resilience, environmental remediation, conservation, and sustainable infrastructure projects, while providing education, training, and career pathways in good union jobs, in close partnership with labor organizations.

Furthermore, the CPC will fight to establish a Clean Electricity Standard. This CES must center the protection of frontline communities and the use of and investment in renewable energy. It is absolutely critical that a CES includes strong standards and protections to ensure it does not add to America’s racist legacy of polluting Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities by relying on dirty energy sources like natural gas or investing in unproven technologies like Carbon Capture and Sequestration.

Care Economy

The AJP invests $400 billion into our care economy, specifically to:

  • Expand access to home and community-based services through Medicaid for aging relatives of people with disabilities.
  • Improve the quality of caregiving jobs by raising wages and ensuring the free and fair choice to join a union and collectively bargain.

    This investment is an excellent start, and a testament to the tireless organizing of caregiving workers who have advocated for years that their industry can be a central pillar of the middle class while providing better quality of life for millions of families.

    The CPC, along with many other advocates, are demanding $450 billion in investments in the care economy, meaning Biden’s proposal falls $50 billion short in an area we cannot afford to be stingy. Additionally, the specifics of this plan matter, so it’s imperative that as Congress moves towards writing this plan into legislation we advocate for the strongest possible protections for caregivers, the highest quality and most affordable care for families who need it, and equitable access for low-income communities and communities of color. That includes guaranteeing at least $15 an hour for care giving workers and ensuring they have the right to form a union.

    A robust and inclusive care economy extends beyond home and community based care to include childcare and paid leave. Progressives are fighting to make childcare a universal benefit, eliminate work requirements and other barriers to access, and invest in childcare infrastructure through training and supports for the workforce and building and upgrading childcare facilities. Additionally, the legislation must create a permanent paid family and medical leave program that covers every worker.

    Housing

    The AJP includes a few important policies to address the housing crisis:

    • Invest $213 billion to produce, preserve, and retrofit more than two million homes;
    • It includes funds to repair public housing and weatherize homes; and
    • Incentives for communities to adopt inclusionary zoning to expand the housing supply.

    While this plan represents an important opportunity, it lacks both the scale and detail required to meet the urgent housing needs of communities across the country, particularly in the lowest-income communities, tribal communities, and other communities of color, and for people with disabilities.

    To meet that need, the CPC will fight to guarantee Housing Choice Vouchers for all eligible Americans and guarantee that spending each year by making it mandatory, rather than discretionary. They will also work to address the critical backlog in public housing maintenance and repairs by investing at least $70 billion in those projects. They are prioritizing spending $45 billion per year on the National Housing Trust Fund, with $26 billion specifically for unsheltered individuals. Demands also include eliminating the “Faircloth Amendment,” which blocks the expansion of public housing, so the federal government can finally build and acquire more units to meet the needs of more communities. Upgrades on housing through the weatherization and energy efficiency programs must occur at scale, consistent with the Green New Deal for Public Housing. And finally the CPC is calling for a federal Affordable Housing Acquisition fund to build resilience against economic downturns by securing sites for development or preservation of affordable housing.

    What You Can Do

    Now that Biden has released his plan and the CPC has their priorities it is time for Congress to get to work drafting the boldest recovery possible. The good news is that Congress seems eager to start. Speaker Pelosi has said she wants a recovery package to pass the House by July 4th. In order to pass a budget resolution through the House and Senate and get the reconciliation bill through the House on this timeline, Congress needs to get to work right away!

    As Progressives work together to include their priorities in recovery, we must support them in this fight.

    You can call your Member of Congress and demand they include our key priorities in recovery, cosponsor the THRIVE Act, and expand the size, scope, and speed of the package.

    You can call your Representatives and Senators and demand they include citizenship for DACA recipients, TPS holders, essential workers, and ensure all immigrants are included in recovery, robust prescription drug price reforms, and lowering the Medicare eligibility age in recovery.

    Furthermore, Congress must strengthen investments to address the climate crisis, strengthen the care economy, expand affordable housing, as well as increasing the overall size of the recovery to $1 trillion a year for the next 10 years in order to produce the 15 million jobs needed to end the unemployment crisis.

    The CPC saw huge wins in the American Rescue Plan by working with one another and with progressive organizations to create a powerful voting bloc and we are looking forward to passing a recovery package that works for all people.

    Additional Resources