September 30, 2022

Biden Signs Climate, Health Bill Into Law as Other Economic Goals Remain

Mr. Biden also sees human investment as crucial. The American economy remains dominated by service industries like restaurants and medicine. Its recovery from the pandemic recession has been stunted, in part, by breakdowns in support for some of the workers who should be powering those industries’ revival. The cost and availability of child care alone is keeping many potential workers sidelined, leading to an abundance of unfilled job openings and costing business owners money.

Yet Mr. Biden has so far been unable to deliver on many of the programs he proposed to help Americans balance work responsibilities with care for children or aging parents, and to pursue high-quality education from a young age. He could not secure universal prekindergarten or free community college tuition. He could not find support to fund child care subsidies or to extend a tax credit meant to fight child poverty. And his plans to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to expand and improve home health services for seniors and disabled people have also foundered.

Those omissions add up to what liberal economists call a missed opportunity to help Americans work more and earn more, and to make the economy run more efficiently.

Mr. Biden has had more success in getting Democrats, and some Republicans, to invest in the physical economy and to embrace a more interventionist view of federal power, said Lindsay Owens, executive director of the liberal Groundwork Collaborative in Washington. By embracing industrial policy and government-induced emissions reduction, she said, “He’s moved to an economic system and an economic agenda where the government is really throwing its weight around, putting its thumb on the scale,” she said.

But, she added, “we didn’t get the care agenda. That’s a huge miss. Until we get affordable child care, our economy’s not going to be at full strength.”

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