Biden touts May employment figures as he pushes for infrastructure funding
President Joe Biden on Friday touted the progress the United States has made in its recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and argued that now is the time to “seize on the economic momentum” and pass his proposal to large-scale infrastructure.
“While our progress is undeniable, it is not assured,” Biden said after the government reported Friday morning that 559,000 jobs were created in May.
The President said: “We are on the right track. Our plan is working. And we are not going to let go now.”
He argued that now is the time to “build on the foundations we have laid” in the country’s recovery and adopt its twin economic proposals, the US jobs plan and the US bailout. The proposals would invest heavily in infrastructure, education, paid vacation and child care, among other areas.
“No other great economy in the world is growing as fast as ours. No other great economy is creating jobs as quickly as ours. And none of these successes are an accident. This is no luck. “said Biden, speaking from Rehoboth Beach. , Delaware.
Biden said, “America is finally on the move again. As we continue this recovery, we are going to run into obstacles along the way. Of course, it will happen. We cannot restart the world’s largest economy like flipping it on a switch. There are going to be ups and downs in jobs and economic reports. “
The May jobs report showed that the US labor market was accelerating and was an improvement over the disappointing April jobs report. The unemployment rate also fell to 5.8% in May, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday.
Although this was an improvement from April, which showed a revision of 278,000 jobs added, the number of jobs added last month was still lower than the 650,000 jobs forecast by economists. The United States is also still down 7.6 million jobs from February 2020, before lockdowns were put in place across the country to stop the spread of Covid-19.
But the labor force participation rate was 61.6% in May, showing that the unemployment rate fell because people found jobs, not because they left the labor market.
Biden on Friday touted his administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and the sweeping $ 1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill he enacted earlier this year, which provided economic relief directly to Americans and to businesses across the country.
More than 50% of American adults are now fully vaccinated against Covid-19, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and cases of Covid-19 are on the decline.
The president’s comments precede a call he is expected to hold with senior Republican negotiator West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito over the infrastructure package on Friday afternoon, a source familiar with the plan told CNN.
Republican lawmakers and the White House remain distant from each other to reach a bipartisan deal on an infrastructure proposal. Earlier this week, Biden offered to reduce the price to $ 1 trillion, but said he wanted to make sure it was “new money” and not funding already approved by the Congress as demanded by Republicans in the Senate, a GOP source informed. said the talks.
Biden’s proposal, which was initially $ 2.25 trillion, focuses on rebuilding the country’s crumbling infrastructure and shifting the country to greener energy. Republicans have questioned the size and scope of the plan, as well as how Biden plans to pay for it. The president has proposed corporate tax hikes to fund his plan, and Republicans say any changes to the 2017 tax cuts that were enacted under President Donald Trump are a “red line” in the negotiations.
Biden, in previous private talks, has raised the idea of moving his proposed financing mechanism – a series of corporate tax increases, including raising the rate to 28% from the set 21% level. in 2017 – to address GOP concerns.
Rather, the proposal put on the table at the meeting with Capito on Wednesday would be based on significantly strengthened tax enforcement and the implementation of a 15% minimum corporate tax, which would target companies that have used loopholes to avoid to pay a significant share of taxes, the source said.
Jared Bernstein, a member of the Presidential Council of Economic Advisers, told MSNBC on Friday morning that the new minimum corporate tax rate is supposed to be “a safety net against the kind of loopholes that have plagued our tax code and been so beneficial to those at the top. “
Bernstein touted the May Jobs Report and said the unemployment insurance program was critical to the country’s success, and refuted the idea of canceling insurance at this point.
“I hear some of these calls basically saying, while we are making significant progress towards our goals, we should kind of shorten the policy and, you know – stop the car, park, get out. No, we have to keep going until ‘until we get there,’ Bernstein said.
He noted that the insurance program will run until early September, which he said was “very much in line with the analogy that we’re getting there but we’re not there yet and we have measures in place that will automatically adjust as this program arrives starting in early September. “
Labor Secretary Marty Walsh on Friday refuted criticism that extended unemployment benefits are preventing people from re-entering the workforce. Walsh told CNN’s Poppy Harlow that the benefits, which were adopted as part of the president’s US bailout, allow families to “put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads as their jobs come back, as their industries open up. “
This story has been updated with additional information.