A new campaign, backed by labor, plans to spend $50 million before the 2024 elections to bring child and senior care back to the top of the legislative agenda after it was dropped from President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda under his administration.
The “Care Can’t Wait Campaign” focuses on reviving parts of Biden’s program “Build Back Better”, including universal child care, guaranteed paid medical and family leave and Democrats had to abandon because of opposition from Republicans. The campaign will also call for new billions of dollars in spending on child and senior care.
Some of the largest unions in the country, including the Service Employees International Union, the American Federation of Teachers, the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, and the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, (AFL-CIO), are supporting the campaign. They, as well as some of the most prominent left-leaning advocacy organizations and super PACs like Priorities USA, stand to gain from increased federal spending.
Randi Weingarten is the president of the Teachers Union. She said, “Carework makes other work possible. It helps children learn and grow. It protects the injured, sick and aging. And it keeps our neighborhoods safe.” “Unfortunately care work is largely invisible. It’s not protected by labor laws and it’s often informal. And care workers aren’t recognized for how vital they are to our society or economy.
Biden has called for greater federal support of senior and child care. For example, he proposed to spend $775 billion in 10 years. His agenda was met with opposition from moderates on Capitol Hill, such as then-Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinesma of Arizona. It was ultimately set aside for infrastructure and climate legislation that passed Congress in his first two year in office.
When the Republicans regained control of the House in 2022 Biden’s health care agenda was dead.
For him to achieve anything in 2025 he will not only have to be reelected, but also need Democrats to take back the House and the Senate. This is a difficult task given Democrats’ poor prospects for next year’s Senate elections.
The coalition’s goal is to reach 10 million infrequent and unreliable voters. They will also host town halls with presidential and Senate candidates. They will commission new research to prove that their policies are popular and they will offer candidates the opportunity to spend the day helping family caregivers and professionals.
“Through Care Can’t Wait Action we can educate and mobilise our communities and send a powerful message to the community that care will be on the ballot for 2024. This will ensure that providers and families who rely on them receive the support that they need each day,” said AFSCME President Lee Saunders.
The Covid pandemic, say advocates, has exposed the need to better support family caregivers. They also argue that more workers are needed and they should be paid better.
Families from all walks of life struggle to find high-quality care that is affordable. The women who are mainly of color and provide these vital services barely get paid enough to survive, said Fatima Graves. She is the president and CEO of National Women’s Law Center Action Fund.