By Deborah Bailey
Special to the AFRO
President Joe Biden spoke on the state of the country’s economy while visiting students at Prince George’s Community College (PGCC) on Sept. 14. While Republican lawmakers wrangled over the appropriations process late last week, Biden reached outside Capitol Hill’s fiscal fight and spoke to community college students, faculty and staff less than 20 miles from the White House. Biden discussed his economic vision, branded as “Bidenomics” by the media.
“As many of you know, my wife is a professor at a community college. As a matter of fact, she’s teaching today,” President Biden began to hearty applause from the PGCC audience. “She has an expression, ‘Any country that out-educates us will out-compete us.’ The work you’re doing here in preparing students to compete in the economy of the future is real, it matters.”
Biden’s visit was timely, as Congress is headed into a showdown over passing the federal government’s FY 2024 budget appropriation bill. He was joined by Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (D-MD), Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).
“Growing economies are built from the middle out and the bottom up instead of the top down,” Biden said. “When the middle class does well, the poor have a ladder up and the wealthy still do quite well.”
Biden pointed out statistics reflecting the success of his administration noting unemployment under 4 percent for 19 months which happened for the first time in U.S. history and the 13 million jobs that have been created in the economy since he took office.
Biden laid out a comparison between “Bidenomics” the economic policies and legislation touted by his administration and what he labeled as “MAGAnomics,” the budget plan supported by far-right and fiscally conservative Republicans, Biden said.
According to the nonpartisan Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, total employment today, including private government employment, is now 3.8 million jobs higher than in February 2020. Today, there are more than 4 million jobs in private employment than before the pandemic.
“You can’t have the strongest economy in the world without the best infrastructure in the world,” Biden said in defense of his landmark legislation, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
Biden signed the measure into law in August 2022, providing a wide range of measures to raise revenue from corporations and individuals earning more than $400,000 while supporting the needs of average Americans with measures like reducing the price of prescription drugs.
Biden said far right Republicans plan to raise the retirement age to 67, preventing one million disabled citizens from receiving Medicare subsidies and cutting Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and The Children’s Insurance Program (CHIP) by more than half.
“Biden’s economic message resonated with people like me who are juggling work, school and raising a family,” said PGCC student Najwah Fairweather, a patient care technician at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Howard County. “I feel like it was God sent for me to be here.”
Fairweather has been attending PGGG while raising 8 children. Then tragedy struck. Her son, Mikael Crier, was killed at age 11 in 2021, after being struck by a vehicle while riding his bike.
“The economic message that was supposed to be heard was definitely received,” Fairweather said.
Dr. Diana Wilkins, PGCC Manager of Experiential Learning, said she attended to see what plans Biden had for students, who face rising costs for school, family and work-related expenses. She liked the ideas Biden expressed, but remains concerned about obstacles on the road ahead for him on Capitol Hill.
“Joe Biden sincerely cares about young people,” Wilkins said. “He cares about the working class. But he has an uphill battle in fighting with Congress and lawmakers who have a different idea about the economy.”