Biden pitches increased education, child care spending during Illinois trip

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President Biden on Wednesday pitched his proposals to increase spending on education and child care, saying the investments will help keep Americans competitive in a global economy.

Mr. Biden visited McHenry County College, a community college in Crystal Lake, Illinois, to sell voters in the swing district on bolstering so-called “human infrastructure” to create blue-collar jobs.

The president said his plan will prepare U.S. workers with “skills that employers want that lead to good, middle-class and — I make no apologies — union jobs.”

During his speech, Mr. Biden emphasized proposals that were cut from the bipartisan infrastructure deal he reached with Republicans last month.

Although the deal includes $4 trillion in spending to repair roads and bridges, upgrade transit systems and replace lead water pipes, it didn’t go as far as the president wanted. Mr. Biden has proposed nearly $2 trillion in additional spending that he says will create middle-class jobs.

Those investments would include increased government spending on child care, two free years of community college, and universal prekindergarten. He said such programs are necessary to ensure America competes with other nations.

“Does anyone in the 21st century think that 12 years of education is enough to live a middle-class life? I don’t think so,” Mr. Biden said.

“Any nation that out-educates us is going to out-compete us,” he continued.

The proposals would be financed by new taxes on households earning more than $400,000 and increasing the corporate tax rate.

Mr. Biden spoke to a group of about 200 students and teachers at McHenry County College. The visit comes just days after Mr. Biden made trips to Traverse City, Michigan, and La Crosse, Wisconsin, for campaign-style events promoting his domestic agenda.

He is trying to drum up support for these policies, which are outlined in a bill Democrats hope they can pass without Republican votes by using the fast-track reconciliation process.

The legislative maneuver would allow Democrats to pass the legislation with a simple majority vote, thus avoiding having to secure the support of 10 Republicans in the evenly divided Senate. Mr. Biden has pushed for the bill to pass alongside his infrastructure measure.

Mr. Biden won McHenry County by about 2 percentage points in the 2020 election, and Rep. Lauren Underwood, Illinois Democrat, won her seat by an even smaller margin last year.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki pushed back on claims the president was making a campaign speech.

“I would see this as less of a political trip, more of as an opportunity to speak to all Americans about why his Build Back Better agenda, and why his effort to extend the child tax credit, to make community college more affordable, to make universal pre-K a reality, is something that many people of all political stripes should be able to support,” she told reporters.

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