By Ana Campoy
President Joe Biden released his American Families Plan today, a $1.8 trillion package that promises nothing short of rewriting the US’s social contract.
If passed, it would insert the government into parts of American life that politicians before him have purposefully avoided, from workplace leave policies to the cost of daycare.
“The US has had a rugged individualism ethos of pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps,” says C. Nicole Mason, president and CEO of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. “What this plan says is ‘That’s not who we are. The government does have a role to play here.’”
The plan, which Biden expanded on during his first congressional address tonight, reflects Americans’ perennial juggle between work and family—and a newfound, pandemic-induced urgency to ease it. It includes a paid family and medical leave program, the first ever to be introduced by a president, and billions of dollars to cover household expenses, such as food, childcare, and healthcare.
Activists and experts who have long fought for more generous family policies were impressed with the scope and budget of the proposal, an unusual situation for those in their line of advocacy. Mason deemed it “a game-changer,” while AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer Liz Shuler called it “the right plan at the right time.” Neil Sroka, a spokesperson for the PL+US: Paid Leave for the United States, said it would “fundamentally transform the way we live and work in the US.”