My Point of View: Biden has supported families, rural America in his actions

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, February 8, 2022

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My Point of View by Jennifer Vogt-Erickson

President Biden has the best jobs creation numbers in his first year in office for any president on record. About 6.6 million jobs have been added since he took office just over a year ago. The unemployment rate is down to 4%. The American Rescue Plan stimulus has been a big success.

Jennifer Vogt-Erickson

Democrats are also making major, historic investments in public infrastructure. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will deliver upgrades in transportation networks, power transmission grids and drinking water systems, and it will clean up polluted, abandoned industrial sites bordering neighborhoods full of families with children.

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Republicans prioritize tax cuts that mainly benefit their donor class and accelerate income inequality, enabling the wealthy to insulate themselves from the rest of us. When Democrats win control, they pass necessary public infrastructure packages that benefit everyone and support economic growth.

Which one of these major priorities is best for an aging rural community like ours?

Democrats have the back of rural areas and will not not let us crumble and decline, even as private capital investments flow to larger cities. Rural areas are crucially important despite lower incomes and housing values. We deserve fair treatment, and Democrats deliver it to our doorsteps.

Congressman Jim Hagedorn voted against the American Rescue Plan and against the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. He also voted against extending the expanded child tax credit, which was a significant boost to families with minor children in our district last year. 

A study published earlier this month by the National Academy of Sciences found that cash assistance to low-income mothers was associated with increased activity in their infants’ brains. The Twin Cities was among four U.S. metropolitan areas included in the “Baby’s First Years” study, and mothers in the experiment group received $333 a month for a year after their babies’ births.

While we don’t know yet how long these differences will last, it is evidence that giving money to people who lack money may benefit not just individuals but also society. Child development is a short, critical period, and it becomes more difficult to bridge achievement gaps with each passing year in a child’s life. This impacts families, schools and communities. The positive outcome of cash assistance on infant brain development deserves further study.

This past week, Rep. Hagedorn announced he’s backing Rep. Pete Stauber’s bill that would block Minneapolis from using federal COVID funds to finance a universal basic income (UBI) pilot program. His rationale is that people who get it will be less likely to seek paid work.

Other pilot projects have shown that UBI does not disincentive work, and workforce participation remains about the same. If people spend less time in paid work, it’s usually to devote more time to unpaid caregiving. In other words, taking care of their families.

What’s so bad about taking care of one’s family?

Hagedorn’s disdain for working families is on full display here. Remember again that he voted against the expanded child tax credit. He doesn’t prioritize working families or unpaid caregivers of children and elders. First and foremost, he wants employers to have a lower-cost, compliant workforce.

I’m a stay-at-home mother, and the unpaid caregiving and volunteer work I do has value to our community, even though our capitalist system doesn’t assign value to it. 

How much do Republicans value families if they don’t value unpaid caregiving? I should be the “conservative” ideal, but instead Hagedorn treats mothers like me like we don’t want to work and are hurting economic growth.

Republicans aren’t interested in making the economics of stay-at-home parenting work for more families. Simply put, capitalist values come before family values. Capitalism doesn’t value unpaid labor, and it undervalues paid caregiving which is most often done by women. Hagedorn is operating from this value frame.

If you value families and caregivers, vote for Democrats.

If you value democracy and fairness, also vote for Democrats.

Hagedorn supported the Trump mob’s seditious attack on the U.S. Capitol last year when he voted against certifying Biden’s victory, and last week the Republican National Committee claimed the unprecedented violence and destruction on Jan. 6, 2021, was “legitimate political discourse.” 

The jig is nearly up, though, and former President Trump admits he wanted to “overturn the election.” At a recent rally he complained about prosecutors closing in on him from all sides, ranting, “In reality, they’re not after me, they’re after you.”

They’re not after “you.” They’re after Trump for his crime spree, and he’s hiding behind his supporters.

Democracy means equal justice under law, and no one is above the law. It’s time to stop supporting Trump’s self-serving lawlessness and choose democracy.

Biden won, fair and square.

Jennifer Vogt-Erickson is a member of the Freeborn County DFL Party.