Top White House Economist Defends 'Care Economy' as Infrastructure


Top White House economist Cecilia Rouse on Tuesday defended President Joe Biden’s plan to spend $400 billion on the “care economy” as a legitimate infrastructure investment and key part of his drive to address persistent economic inequities.

Republicans have blasted Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure package as riddled with liberal spending priorities, and want to strip out funding for home- and community-based jobs taking care of kids and seniors.

Rouse told an online event that was faulty thinking.

“So many people said, ‘Oh, the $400 billion that are being proposed for the home care workers or the home care sector, that’s not really infrastructure,'” she said. “Well I beg to differ. I can’t go to work, if I don’t have someone who’s taking care of my parents or my children.”

Biden’s infrastructure plan, his second major legislative initiative, appears unlikely to draw more bipartisan support than his first, a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package that passed with only Democratic support last month.

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The infrastructure package includes $25 billion to upgrade child-care facilities and increase the number of sites in areas with few child-care options, and the Biden administration is working on another package with more funding to be unveiled in coming weeks.

Together with tax credits for children and child care in the relief bill, the measures aim to provide better jobs for essential care workers, who are disproportionately women of color, and one in six of whom live in poverty.

Rouse told the event, hosted by the Washington Center for Equitable Growth and Groundwork Collaborative, the changes were urgently needed.

LeadingAge, which represents service providers in the sector, estimates that half of all Americans will need long-term services and support after turning 65, and that by 2040, a quarter of the U.S. population will be 65 or older.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

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