Raimondo and Democratic Sens. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Chuck Schumer of New York discussed the Biden administration's "Build Back Better" social agenda, which they argued will help resolve U.S. supply chain issues and make the country more reliant on its own workers during a press conference.
"We are — the president is — laser focused on fixing the disruptions in the supply chain, which we believe will also have the effect of lowering prices for consumers," Raimondo said during the conference. "Importantly, there are a number of provisions in the infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better agenda specifically designed to do exactly that."
The public preschool plan will cost roughly $450 billion as a part of Biden's total $3.5 trillion reconciliation package, including the Build Back Better plan, according to estimates from the House Committee on Education and Labor.
Raimondo added that making investments "that allow women to go back to work," such as public pre-K, will "alone significantly enable millions of women to get back into the workforce, and when they get back into the workforce," there will be "fewer ‘help wanted’ signs."
Filling more positions will, in turn, lead to lower consumer costs, the commerce secretary said.
Biden's plan, which the White House outlined on Oct. 28, aims to give American families two years of free preschool "for every 3- and 4-year-old in America" — more than 6 million children total — and "give more than 35 million families a major tax cut by extending the expanded Child Tax Credit."
The national unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage points to 4.8% in September to 7.7 million unemployed individuals, well above the country's pre-pandemic unemployment rate of 3.5%, or 5.7 million, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics. While unemployment rates among men (4.7%), women (4.2%), Whites (4.2%) and Blacks (7.9%) fell in September, men gained 220,000 jobs while women lost 26,000, the National Women's Law Center reported.
More than 300,000 women left the workforce entirely in September, the largest drop in female workforce participation since September of 2020. More than one in three women over the age of 20 had been out of work for six months or longer last month, according to the NWLC.
Progressive groups have been pushing for taxpayer-funded preschool for years. Proponents argue that such programs help working families and advance early childhood development. Opponents of public preschool or child care argue, however, that the costs for such a national program may impose a financial burden on taxpayers. They also argue that federal regulations on child care centers may reduce provider options for some parents.
The White House was criticized last month for claiming its Build Back Better plan would cost nothing.