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Jacobs at Care Can’t Wait Rally: We Can’t Afford Not to Pass Build Back Better Act

Jacobs: “It isn't enough to just get back to normal. Because for too many families, normal wasn't working”

Washington, October 21, 2021 | Will McDonald (12028454864)
Tags: Education

Washington, D.C. - Congresswoman Sara Jacobs (D-CA-53) joined Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-3), other members of Congress, along with parents, caregivers, and caregiving advocates today for a Care Can’t Wait Rally in support of care economy investments in the Build Back Better Act. 

The event was organized by Moms Rising and the Care Can’t Wait Coalition. 

Congresswoman Jacobs spoke on the economic benefits of building the care economy and the problems facing families in San Diego and across the country, stating, “It isn't enough to just get back to normal. Because for too many families, normal wasn't working.”

Congresswoman Jacobs serves as the New Member Representative on the Democratic Women’s Caucus executive board, and is a House co-lead of the Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act, introduced in the Senate by Senator Elizabeth Warren.

For video of the full event click here. 

Congresswoman Jacobs’ Remarks: 

Juneau wasn’t planning on joining me here today, but his mom, my chief of staff, couldn’t find child care and I figured what better way to highlight the very issue we are talking about than the fact that Juneau had to come to work today with us.

I am so proud to be here with Moms Rising and the Care Can’t Wait Coalition and to partner with you in this effort to fight for kids and families in the Build Back Better Act.

Because for so long, here in Washington, the voices of women, the voices of parents, the voices of care workers, that are largely women and women of color, haven’t always been heard. 

And when you don’t center women, and kids, and care workers in policymaking, well it’s not surprising that you end up with a national child care crisis and an economy that simply isn’t working for millions of families. 

But we are going to change that. That’s right.

And that starts with changing the debate about what the Build Back Better Act really is about — because so much of the discussion around this bill has been outdated and frankly irrelevant. 

At the end of the day, the debate is not about the topline number — it’s about what the American people need. And let’s be clear, whatever else you want to call this bill, the Build Back Better Act is fundamentally a jobs bill. 

Because these past two years exposed deep inequities in our society, but while it exposed them, it did not create them. 

In San Diego County, where I’m proud to represent, 60% of families couldn't find the child care that met their needs before the pandemic. 

And we know it's only gotten worse.

So it isn't enough to just get back to normal. Because for too many families, normal wasn't working. 

And that’s what this bill is all about: helping families no longer experience poverty thanks to the Child Tax Credit, ensuring parents have paid leave to take care of their families, helping more kids enroll in quality early learning programs, boosting the wages of care workers who make our economy go. 

We have a long way to go, but we have already made some huge progress.

Since the first monthly payments of the expanded Child Tax Credit started on July 15, families across the country have received immediate relief. 

In my district in San Diego, the monthly payments have already helped 129,000 kids – 129,000 kids just in my district – and have returned $32.7 million [per month] to local families. 

I’ve met with parents in my district who, with the money from the Child Tax Credit, can not only pay for rent and food, child care, and school supplies — but also, for the first time, they can save and think about their child’s futures. 

And before I go any further, I think we need to give a huge round of applause to Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro who has made expanding the Child Tax Credit a priority for two decades and we would not be where we are if it wasn’t for all of her work, and I am so proud to be doing this work with her and alongside all of you. 

This is a really exciting moment.

Because this is about people — people in my district and districts across the country. Too many families can’t afford care, too many kids don’t have early education, too many people don’t have access to paid leave, and too many parents simply can’t work right now.

So while we know the details of this bill are still being worked out – this is the problem right in front of us – and we have to meet this moment. 

Because as we have been saying all day: care simply cannot wait. 

And listen, I know there are many, from both sides of the aisle, who think these provisions are too expensive. That we just can’t afford to make these investments. So let us be very clear — investing in people is fiscally responsible. 

And in fact, the least responsible thing we could do is let things stay the way they are. 

Every year, we lose approximately 5% of potential GDP growth – over a trillion dollars – because millions of women have been forced out of the workforce due to a lack of child care access, paid leave, and other policy failures. 

And when it comes to child care, Nobel Prize winning economist James Heckman found that for every dollar we invest in quality early childhood programs, we save seven dollars. 

Because when we invest in kids, we see better outcomes in education, employment, health, and stability for decades down the line. 

In fact, every year the effects of child poverty cost our economy an additional $1 trillion dollars. 

And right now we rank 35th in the World in the Human Capital Index, which measures how well each nation is meeting their economic potential. Compared to nearly every advanced economy, compared to our economic competitors, we are falling behind.

When we don’t invest in kids, when we create economic structures that exclude people and leave people behind, it hurts all of us.

There are millions of doctors and scientists and teachers and entrepreneurs that are missing from our country right now. Not because of some supposed skills gap, but because we haven’t built a social infrastructure and a care economy that meets their needs. 

And listen, I am a foreign policy person. This is not just a question of equity, this is a question of our national security.

So, while some of my colleagues may argue that we can’t afford this bill, the truth is: we can’t afford not to pass this bill. 

So thank you all for speaking out. 

I’m so honored to be doing this work alongside all of you, and I know, together, we are going to make sure kids, families, and care workers get the support they need! 

And we are going to pass the Build Back Better Act. Thank you so much.