The president said passage of his $1.75 trillion ‘Build Back Better’ package is a matter of ‘competitiveness versus complacency’
President Joe Biden on Thursday warned that America risks falling further behind other countries in global competitiveness if Congress fails to enact his $1.75 trillion “Build Back Better Act” framework into law.
“Today I’m pleased to announce after months of tough and thoughtful negotiations … we have an historic economic framework… that will create millions of jobs, grow the economy, invest in our nation and our people, turn the climate crisis into an opportunity, put us on a path not only to compete but to win the economic competition for the 21st century against China and every other major country in the world,” Mr Biden said, speaking from the East Room of the White House after retuning from a meeting with the Democratic lawmakers who will vote on the package.
Mr Biden said the US faces an “inflection point” due to years of failure to sufficiently invest in American infrastructure and the American people.
“America is still the largest economy in the world. We still own the most productive workers and most innovative minds in the world, but we risk losing our edge as a nation,” he said. “We can’t be competitive in the 21st century global economy if we continue to slide”.
The president noted that the US once led the world in infrastructure and educational achievement, but now ranks far lower than it did because of the effects of “trickle-down economics”.
The “Build Back Better” framework unveiled by the White House includes some — but not all — of the priorities identified by Mr Biden and progressives over the months since he assumed office, including a more than $500 billion investment in combatting climate change, making health care and home care for persons with disabilities more affordable, and providing childcare relief for American facilities.
But Mr Biden cast his proposal not as a partisan priority, but as a nonpartisan imperative.
These are not about left versus right or moderate versus progressive or anything else that pits Americans against one another. This is about competitiveness versus complacency, competitiveness versus complacency. It’s about expanding opportunity, not opportunity to deny. It’s about leading the world,” he said, adding that the US is currently “letting the world pass us by”.
Thursday’s announcement that his plan has major climate provisions allows Mr Biden a win as he heads to Europe, where he will attend next week’s Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland.
White House officials say the climate plan — which includes the Civilian Climate Corps desired by progressives — will allow the US to meet the president’s target of a 50% reduction in greenhouse emissions by 2030.
Mr Biden touted the plan, which he called “the most significant investment to deal with the climate crisis that has ever happened, beyond any other advanced nation in the world”.
He added that the plan will result in “over a billion metric tons of emission reductions — at least ten times bigger on climate than any bill that has ever passed before — and will be “enough to position us for a 50% to 52% emissions reduction by the year 2030 … in ways that grow the domestic industries, create good-paying union jobs, and address long-standing environmental injustices as well”.