Joe Biden believes that there's no greater economic engine in the world than the hard work and ingenuity of the American people. But for too long, the economy has worked great for those at the top, while working families get squeezed. President Biden promised to rebuild the backbone of the country - the middle class - so that this time everyone comes along. He also campaigned on a promise to forge consensus and make government work for working people again. The Build Back Better Act includes critical investments that will help meet our sacred obligation to care for veterans and their families - both while they are deployed and after they return home.
Now, the President is delivering on these promises. After hearing input from all sides and negotiating in good faith with a broad group of members of Congress, President Biden is pushing Congress to pass the Build Back Better Act, which will lower costs of the things middle class families - including veterans - depend on.President Biden is confident this legislation can pass both houses of Congress, and he looks forward to signing it into law.
The Build Back Better Act will ensure that every community has a fair shot at participating in the nation's economic growth, and it will deliver meaningful outcomes for veterans and their families.
The biggest expansion of affordable health care in a decade-including greater access to world-class care for veterans.
The Build Back Better Act includes a significant $5 billion investment to improve health care delivery for veterans by modernizing Veterans Affairs (VA) health care facilities, leasing medical facilities, and speeding up claims processing. More than 9 million veterans are enrolled in VA's health care system, and as a result of their military service, many face significant health care needs. To help meet these needs, VA operates the largest integrated health care system in the nation, with more than 1,700 hospitals, clinics and other health care facilities, but far too many of these facilities are in desperate need of renovations. The median age of U.S. private sector hospitals is 11 years; however, the median age of VA facilities is 58 years, with 69 percent of VA hospitals over the age of 50. These investments will offset the growing costs of older facilities while helping to meet the health care needs of the veterans of yesterday's wars, today's wars, and the future.
Not all veterans are enrolled in or receive their health care from VA, and many veteran family members may lack access to affordable health care. In fact, about 525,000 veterans are uninsured. Across the country, more than 4 million people are locked out of coverage because their state refused to expand Medicaid. President Biden's plan closes the Medicaid coverage gap while also lowering health care costs for those buying coverage through the Affordable Care Act by extending the American Rescue Plan's lower premiums. The plan will also expand Medicare coverage to include hearing coverage. For veterans and their family members who are not enrolled in the VA health care system, President Biden's plan will lower prescription drug costs by letting Medicare negotiate drug prices, so veterans relying on Medicare and their dependents are no longer at the whim of pharmaceutical companies.
The most transformative investment in children and caregiving in generations.
One quarter of our nation's veterans have children living at home. President Biden's plan offers access to free preschool for all 3- and 4-year old children, providing parents access to high-quality programs in the setting of their choice, from schools to child care providers and community-based organizations to Head Start. It will enable most American families to cut their child care spending on young children by more than half. The vast majority of working American families of four earning less than $300,000 per year - and all working families earning up to 2.5 times their state median income - will pay no more than 7 percent of their income on child care for children under 6. For two parents with one toddler earning $100,000 per year, the framework will produce more than $5,000 in child care savings per year. The Build Back Better framework would also reduce the cost of home-based care and raise wages for home care workers.
The most significant effort to bring down costs and strengthen the middle class in generations.
The single largest and most comprehensive investment in affordable housing in history. Driven by the largest shortfall of new housing units in 50 years, rents and housing prices continue to increase - with some 10.5 million renters paying more than half their incomes in rent. Approximately 40,000 veterans were homeless in January 2020 and as a result of COVID-19, rates of housing instability among veterans have increased. The Build Back Better Act will enable the construction, rehabilitation, and improvement of more than 1 million affordable homes, boosting housing supply and reducing price pressures for renters and homeowners.
Tax cuts for families with children. One third of post 9/11 veterans reported trouble paying their bills, particularly in the first few years after leaving the military.The Build Back Better Act will provide 39 million households up to $3,600 (or $300 per month) in tax cuts per child by extending the American Rescue Plan's expanded Child Tax Credit. It will provide monthly payments to the parents of nearly 90 percent of American children - $300 per month per child under 6 and $250 per month per child ages 6 to 17. This historic tax cut will help cover the cost of food, housing, health care, and transportation and will continue the largest one-year reduction in child poverty in history.
Tax cuts for workers without children. The Build Back Better Act will extend the expanded Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for around 17 million low-wage workers. Before this year, the federal tax code taxed many low-wage childless workers into poverty or deeper into poverty - the only group of workers it treated this way. The Build Back Better Act will extend the American Rescue Plan's tripling of the credit for childless workers, benefiting roughly 8 million veterans in the labor force.
Education beyond high school and workforce training. Education beyond high school is increasingly important to succeed in the 21st century economy, even as it has become unaffordable for too many families. The Build Back Better Act will increase the maximum Pell Grant by $550 per year for the more than 5 million students enrolled in public and private, non-profit institutions and provide historic investments in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and other minority-serving institutions (MSIs). It will also invest in high-quality training programs, career and technical education pathways, and Registered Apprenticeships that will prepare workers for high-quality jobs in growing sectors, helping to support the more than 200,000 service members who transition from the military each year, as well as their spouses.