On his second Jobs Day in office, Biden embraces the negative to bolster his case for immediately passing $1.9 trillion in relief.
On Jobs Day, Biden Embraces Dire Outlook.
February jobs numbers revealed that despite some job growth in February, 9.5 million jobs are still gone compared to one year ago, and it would take more than two years at the current rate of growth to recover them. The Biden White House leaned into the negative outlook in order to underscore the urgency of passing Biden’s American Rescue Plan.
In a blog post on Friday, Council of Economic Advisers chair Cecilia Rouse compared the unemployment situation to the Great Recession, writing:
Employment remains down roughly 9.5 million jobs from February 2020. This is greater than the worst point of job loss at the depths of the Great Recession. At February’s pace of job growth, it would take an additional 25 months to get back to the number of jobs we had before the pandemic took hold.
Rather than emphasizing positive economic growth, Rouse’s blog post also notes that unemployment can be measured at an even higher number, and that unemployment and labor force departure among minority women paints an even starker picture.
“This is unacceptable,” press secretary Jen Psaki said. “Congress must pass the American Rescue Plan now so we can get Americans back to work, and so we can get relief to the millions of people who are struggling.”
President Joe Biden added before an economic briefing Friday afternoon, “We’ve lost 400,000 small businesses. All of those empty storefronts aren’t just shattered dreams, they’re warning lights that are going off and state and local budgets that are being stretched because of the lack of tax revenue.”
American Rescue Plan Advances Without Republicans.
When asked Friday whether it was still a priority for Biden to get even one Republican senator to support his relief plan, Psaki responded:
I think the President’s measure of success here is whether we get the package through so we can deliver relief to the American people. And we welcome the support of Republicans in the Senate. We’re open to answering questions, to addressing concerns they have but, at the end of the day, our focus and the President’s priority is on ensuring that almost 160 million people receive direct checks; that we are providing money to schools… and that we are ensuring we can get vaccines in the arms of Americans… He welcomes their support, but his focus is on the American people.
Biden also held a roundtable Friday to emphasize the value of $1,400 checks for Americans who behind on rent or facing reduced hours at work.
The legislation would have advanced Friday but for an internal clash between moderate and progressive Democrats over jobless benefits, causing a twelve-hour delay. On Friday night, Democrats reached a compromise agreement, and after an overnight vote-a-rama, passed the bill Saturday morning with no Republican support. The American Rescue Plan will now return to the House for a final vote before Biden signs it into law.