President Joe Biden speaks about his infrastructure plan and his domestic agenda during a visit to the Electric City Trolley Museum in Scranton, Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) Joe Biden
President Joe Biden speaks about his infrastructure plan and his domestic agenda during a visit to the Electric City Trolley Museum in Scranton, Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Biden says the Build Back Better Agenda will help middle-class working families recover from the hardships of the pandemic. 

SCRANTON — President Joe Biden returned to his hometown of Scranton Wednesday for the first time since he took office.

The support of Scrantonians was key to Biden’s victory in 2020, and Biden said his Build Back Better Agenda will provide much needed support to people in Scranton and other working- and middle-class communities across the US.

The plan will help the country build back “from the bottom up and the middle out, and not the top down,” Biden said to a group of about 50 people at the Electric City Trolley Museum in Scranton. The plan would create jobs, expand social services, and tackle climate change all at once.

The president has said he wants to tax the wealthiest Americans to pay for the plan.

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), US Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Lackawanna), Gov. Tom Wolf, Scranton Mayor Paige Cognetti, and Amtrak President and CEO Stephen Gardner joined Biden at the museum.

As Biden worked to rally support for the Build Back Better Agenda in Scranton, members of Congress negotiated the details in Washington.

Congress is closely divided and Democrats hope to finish negotiations by the end of the week. The president says America is in trouble, and he’s confident an agreement will be made soon. 

“This has been declared dead on arrival from the moment I introduced it, but I think we’re going to surprise them because I think people are beginning to figure out what’s at stake,” Biden said.

What’s in the Build Back Better Plan?

Biden said he remembers the struggles his middle-class family faced while he was growing up in Scranton. He developed the Build Back Better Agenda to help similar American families recover from the fallout of COVID-19.

The Build Back Better Agenda would cut taxes for low-wage workers and parents. It would lower prescription drug prices, reduce health insurance premiums, and expand Medicaid coverage. Medicare would expand to include dental, vision, and hearing benefits. The agenda would also invest more in home healthcare for older and disabled Americans. 

“The average two-parent family with two young kids spends 22% of their income for child care every year,” he said.

Biden said he couldn’t afford child care when he was a single father. The Build Back Better Agenda includes $350 million in subsidies for child care and free pre-kindergarten, with the goal of ensuring that middle class families spend no more than 7% of their income on childcare and working families with the most need wouldn’t have to pay at all. 

A new federal program would provide at least four weeks of paid family leave. The administration would extend the $300 child tax credits for another year. 

The package also includes investments in higher education and increased Pell Grants.

The $1 trillion dollar infrastructure bill will create jobs to rebuild roads, bridges, expand public transportation, and replace every lead pipe in the country to provide clean water, Biden said. 

“We’re going to put hard-working Americans on the job to bring our infrastructure up to speed,” Biden said. “Good union jobs. Not $7 an hour or $15 an hour, but prevailing wage, a wage you can raise your family on.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.