With a record 6.6 million jobs added during the Democratic administration’s first 12 months, combined with a low 4% unemployment rate, the United States has seen unprecedented gains.
No matter which side of the political aisle you find yourself on, one thing is certain: The numbers don’t lie.
Despite complaints from familiar quarters (léase: Republicanos) about the current state of the economy, the facts speak loud and clear: Since President Joe Biden was sworn in in 2020, the US has seen unprecedented economic growth.
In fact, employers added a record 6.6 million jobs during Biden’s first 12 months in office—a whopping 467,000 in January of 2022 alone. This is by far the strongest record of any president’s first year in office. By comparison, Donald Trump’s first 12 months in office marked a gain of 2 million jobs.
Combined with a low 4% unemployment rate, it is, as Biden said at the White House in January, “the strongest economic growth this country has seen in nearly 40 years.”
Biden’s Bold Move
This is how it came about: The massive $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package signed in March of last year had much to do with the strong gains, according to economists.
That’s because the amount of stimulus pumped into the economy—direct cash payments to most households, enhanced unemployment benefits, and aid to cities and towns—revitalized the economy at a time that the country was still struggling from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our mission is clear: to put money in the pockets of working families,” said Orlando Democratic Rep. Val Demings, a strong early supporter for the bill who is running to unseat Sen. Marco Rubio in November. “No new middle-class taxes. No deficit increases. Just long overdue changes to make our economy fair for people who have to go to work every day.”
Tampa Democratic Rep. Kathy Castor, a dedicated fighter for Florida families and small business owners, saw it as a means of expanding affordable health care, improving Medicare, making an investment in affordable housing, and extending the tax cut for most families with children, among other improvements. But things were not that simple.
After Biden’s Build Back Better Act got through the US House of Representatives following a contentious four-month struggle, Republicans continued to denounce the bill as a huge error, full of “socialism.”
For this reason, state Democrats have called out Ron DeSantis, Florida’s Republican governor, over the use (or lack of) of federal funds provided by Biden’s government to ease and improve the lives of everyday Floridians.
- Last year, US Rep. Charlie Crist, who is running to unseat DeSantis in 2022, strongly called out the Republican incumbent for his failure to claim the $820 million in federal food aid that would feed more than 2.1 million children from low-income homes.
- Also in 2021, Florida continued to be one of a handful of states to reject the Affordable Care Act (ACA), despite the fact that Medicaid in Florida would provide healthcare coverage to an additional 850,000 low-income Floridians.
- At the same time, Rep. Carlos G. Smith called out DeSantis for blaming Biden for the state’s housing crisis, when there are other factors such as the cuts to affordable housing funds. “Since 2001 the Republican-led Florida legislature has swept $2.3 billion dollars out of the affordable housing trust fund. Those monies would have been used to actually incentivize the construction of affordable housing,” Smith said.
Are Games Being Played?
The number of children living in poverty reportedly decreased by 40% with the child tax credit (CTC) that, under Biden’s American Rescue Plan, increased payments up to $3,600 per year per child under 6, and $3,000 per year per child ages 6-17. Since it ended in December, roughly 3.7 million more children went into poverty in January, according to a study by Columbia University.
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For this reason, Biden is pushing Congress to extend the payments through the end of 2022 “so no one has to raise a family in poverty.” The White House even backed up its argument on March 8 with data showing the state-by-state impact of the child tax credit on American families. However…
“No Republicans are supporting the CTC. Is it because they don’t believe in it, or because they don’t want to give the president, who is a Democrat, any victories?” Democratic Rep. Lois Frankel told Floricua. “It seems to me there are some political games being played by Republicans.”
A Fair Shot at the American Dream
Democratic Florida Rep. Ben Diamond, who is running for Congress in November, in general attributes the situation to DeSantis, whom he calls out for “putting ideology ahead of common sense. I think the governor is focusing on running for president in 2024 and is trying to appeal to this very right-wing base of voters.”
“We need to have an economy where people have opportunities to live and create a better life for their children and grandchildren,” the Yale graduate told Floricua. “And that means having not only economic opportunities, but for their children to have access to a great public education, and for their families to have access to health care. They need a fair shot at the American Dream.”