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Biden duo makes case for American Families Plan, infrastructure bill

Doug Emhoff, husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, and Labor Secretary Martin Walsh touched down in Memphis last Thursday to tout President Joe Biden’s  “investment measures,” namely, the American Families Plan and the $2.3 trillion infrastructure bill.

The pair staged a very public visit at the Benjamin L. Hooks Job Corps Center, where elected officials explored potential benefits of the measures. Memphis was chosen as a key city for messaging because of its historic role in the labor movement.

After his visit to the Jobs Corps Center, Emhoff took to Twitter, where he posts as @SecondGentleman, with this reflection:

“May 6

“Investing in our workforce is the key to building a brighter future. 

“I visited the Jobs Corps campus in Memphis, TN to hear about the job training and family support services they provide their students.”

U.S. Labor Secretary Martin Walsh greets Elmore Nickleberry, a long-serving Memphis sanitation worker, who participated in the historic strike of 1968. (Photo: Dr. Sybil C. Mitchell)

On Friday, Walsh was the featured guest at an event at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Labor Center, the Local 1733 headquarters of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the union that orchestrated the “Sanitation Strike” of 1968.

“Labor is the backbone of this country,” Walsh told union members. “We need to invest in ourselves. President Biden and I are committed to making the labor movement stronger in this country.” 

Walsh said the COVID-19 pandemic has created some difficulties and deficits in training and creating jobs for the American workforce. The president’s plan is pitched as help for cities such as Memphis, where local household incomes are low.

Critics have labeled Biden’s plan socialism, as well as his American Families Plan. Biden is also pushing for a “public option” health insurance in the infrastructure plan. Also, he proposes a $28.6 billion “restaurant relief program.”

“People are asking, ‘How are we going to pay for it?” Walsh said. “The past president spent money and put it on the credit card and didn’t worry about it. President Biden will ask corporate America to pay for it. There are 55 of the nation’s largest corporations that don’t pay any taxes. This is not a penalty for corporations.”

Walsh said the investments will help corporations, too.

“If there is no business, there is no labor, and if there is no labor, there is no business,” he said.

Walsh said as former mayor of Boston he was supportive of the unions and believes in collective bargaining.

Following the visit to AFSCME headquarters, Walsh toured the National Civil Rights Museum.

Emhoff and Walsh have traveled the country promoting vaccination efforts and the American Jobs and American Families plans. The trip to Memphis marked Emhoff’s 13th stop in the first 100 days of the Biden-Harris presidency.

Biden says his proposals will help put people back to work. According to many in opposition, the administration is moving to spend too much money.

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