CLEVELAND (WJW) – President Joe Biden is expected to focus on the economy and his infrastructure plan during a visit to Cleveland Thursday, according to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.
Biden is scheduled to speak at Cuyahoga Community College, where he had been set to hold a campaign rally in March 2020 that was canceled as the pandemic picked up.
“This is an opportunity for the president to talk about the fact that his economic plan is working, that in his view this is exactly the time we should continue to invest in our economy, make sure we’re doing more to help parents with childcare, rebuild our roads, rail and bridges and make sure we’re doing more to prepare our next generation of workers for our workforce,” Psaki told FOX 8 News in an interview Wednesday.
Amid ongoing negotiations with Senate Republicans, the Biden Administration has lowered the proposed cost of its American Jobs Plan to $1.7 trillion, which equals more than $5,000 per American.
The White House said it plans to pay for the plan by increasing taxes on corporations and Americans making more than $400,000 per year.
Senate Republicans initially proposed a $568 billion plan and are expected to release an updated $1 trillion counterproposal Thursday.
Psaki said Biden remains open to working with Republicans.
“We are eager to see that, to review it, see where we can find common ground, but he’s already shown a willingness and openness to reducing the price tag, and we look forward to seeing what they have to offer,” she said.
Republicans have maintained that the plan’s price tag is too high, and it goes far beyond traditional infrastructure, with hundreds of billions of dollars proposed to expand Medicaid services and for electric vehicles.
“Infrastructure is roads, bridges, freeways, waterways, ports of entry, broadband, those traditional things I think most Ohioans would understand to be what traditional infrastructure is,” Republican National Committee National Spokesperson Paris Dennard told FOX 8 News. “Spending more money on electric cars than you do on actual roads is a problem.”
Republicans have also expressed concern about rising consumer costs and inflation on the heels of several large federal relief packages.
“We think it will level out,” Psaki said. “That’s what our economic team believes and that the impact will be temporary.”
FOX 8 also asked Psaki about worker shortages that several hiring managers have blamed in part on the federal unemployment program providing expanded $300 weekly benefits that has led to some unemployed workers making more on unemployment than they would by working.
Ohio is opting out of the program next month, ahead of the federal expiration in September.
Psaki said the administration has not made the conclusion the extra unemployment benefit is the biggest driving factor in the employee shortage, and it believes the federal government needs to do more to help people make ends meet.
“We think the biggest factors here are the pandemic. People are still getting vaccinated. Obviously we’ve made great progress over the last month or so. People are fearful about being safe in workplaces and, frankly, some employers need to pay more money and more of a livable wage to recruit and attract more employees,” Psaki said. “The president will talk about this a little more tomorrow, as well.”