Seniors would have lower drug prices and a better chance of living out their days at home.
Working parents would pay less for childcare.
People buying electric cars or installing rooftop solar would receive tax incentives.
And, combined with the infrastructure package recently signed into law, 2.4 million new jobs would be created.
Those are among the benefits touted by U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Springfield, at a press conference Monday on the Build Back Better plan.
The Build Back Better plan narrowly won approval in the U.S. House on Friday. The Senate is expected to begin deliberating on it after taking a Thanksgiving break.
DeFazio said the infrastructure plan was part one and Build Back Better part two “of the president’s plan to move America into the 21st century in so many ways.”
The bill invests about $500 billion in measures intended to “take the most meaningful steps ever” to combat climate change, DeFazio said.
“Climate change threatens everything we care about, everything we know about, everything we love about Oregon. The future of the planet is at risk,” he said.
“We have to address this more meaningfully than we have so far,” he said.
It also invests in the country’s social infrastructure.
It aims to help families by funding prekindergarten, limiting the cost of childcare, making the child tax credit permanent, and feeding hungry kids.
The child tax credit alone, DeFazio said, would lift more than 9,000 kids in his district out of poverty.
It invests in elder care, helping keep elders in their homes as they age rather than forcing them into institutions. That, DeFazio said, will save the taxpayers money, too.
Childcare and eldercare workers would be paid a living wage. Today, many are “not getting paid anywhere near what they’re worth,” he said.
Build Back Better would also enable Medicare to bargain for lower drug prices, reducing the costs of those drugs for seniors.
DeFazio said the cost of the new measures will be paid for by making the largest corporations pay their “fair share.”
Corporations with more than $1 billion in profits would pay a minimum 15% tax rate. A corporation would pay a 1% excise tax when they buy back their own stocks. And the wealthiest Americans would pay a surtax — 5% on incomes over $10 million and 8% on incomes over $25 million.
Joining DeFazio at the press conference in support of Build Back Better were representatives of the American Association of Retired Persons, Family Forward Oregon, Environment Oregon and the economic consulting firm ECONorthwest.
ECONorthwest President John Tapogna said between the infrastructure bill and this Build Back Better Plan, 2.4 million new jobs would be created nationally by the middle of the decade. Jobs would be created in infrastructure, childcare, eldercare and affordable housing construction.
Family Forward Oregon Executive Director Andrea Paluso said her organization fights for economic justice for mothers and caregivers.
“Things have been stark across the country and here at home. We work with mothers every day who are telling us about the impossible position they are in because they don’t have access to affordable childcare that meets their family’s needs,” she said.
That crisis has only been exacerbated by the pandemic, she said.
“Since March 2020, millions of women have had to leave the workforce in record numbers,” she said.
Build Back Better would be the largest investment in childcare in the country’s history, she said. It would limit the cost of childcare to no more than 7% of income for most families.
“This will be a huge financial relief for families in Oregon, where the average annual cost of childcare for a toddler now is over $2,000 a year,” she said.
Care work, she said, is the work that makes all other work possible.
“There is no better way to jump-start our economic recovery than by investing in care and the people who provide it,” she said.
AARP Oregon State Director Bandana Shrestha said in addition to Build Back Better’s provision allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices, the bill would cap out-of-pocket drug costs for Part D to $2,000 and cap copayments for insulin.
“This is a really critical step in providing real relief for seniors who are living with high drug prices. We here in America pay the highest drug prices in the world and that just makes no sense at all,” she said.
She also said that polls show adults want to remain in their own home as long as possible, and Build Back Better would help them do it.
Environment Oregon Director Celeste Meiffren-Swango said Oregonians and Americans have been solid in their support for clean energy and transportation.
She said Build Back Better would decrease the cost of rooftop solar by 30% and take $12,500 off the cost of an electric vehicle.
It includes funding for electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
And the bill would also reduce methane emissions, which are more than 80 times more potent in climate warming than carbon dioxide, she said.
“These are just a few of the many, many things to be excited about in this bill,” she said.