Listen to this article here
President Biden on Thursday released a sweeping budget plan for the coming fiscal year.
Under Biden’s administration, the economy has added more than 12 million jobs — and more jobs in two years than any president has created in a four-year term—including 800,000 manufacturing jobs.
According to The White House, the unemployment rate has fallen to 3.4 percent, the lowest in 54 years. Black and Hispanic unemployment rates are near record-lows, and the past two years were the best two years for new small business applications on record.
As former Mayor of New Orleans, Mitch Landrieu took office at a time when the city’s recovery from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina had stalled. He fast-tracked over 100 projects and secured billions in federal funding for roads, schools, hospitals, parks and critical infrastructure. He also became nationally known for bringing communities together and making racial equity a chief priority.
Now a senior advisor to President Biden, The Black Wall Street Times spoke with Landrieu about what’s inside Biden’s new $6.9 trillion budget plan.
Mitch Landrieu talks White House budget
Ezekiel Walker: I see maternity health is a priority in the new budget. I’ve written about independent doulas and birthing centers across the country as they’ve become increasingly more popular among Black women due to the difficulties of carrying and delivering a healthy baby in traditional hospital settings. I’m curious if the Biden administration would consider offering financial supports to those providers or to [soon-to-be] mothers that would seek out non-traditional birthing?
Mitch Landrieu: I don’t know the right answer that question honestly. One of the things that you’ll notice in the budget is that we invest in making sure that there was greater access to health care, especially with the care of mothers who are pregnant. When you talk about Medicaid expansion, which the President has been encouraging across the country, we have well, hundreds of thousands of people who could have access to Medicaid if in fact the governors would just sign the bills.
That’s where you find the funding for things like that in this bill, which protects Medicare and it protects Social Security. It really focuses on childcare, maternal health, all of those kinds of things that make life easier, including lowered prescription costs.
In difficult circumstances, all of these things help improve the health of folks that need it the most. The President, whether in the infrastructure bill or the CHIPS bill or the Inflation Reduction Act, has communities of color in mind, because as you know, a lot of our communities live on the other side of the tracks where life is difficult.
Ezekiel Walker: I see homelessness, preventing evictions, and affordable rent are issues the White House is clearly intentional about [in the new budget]. A lot of Black communities across America often mention gentrification as one of the main problems collectively faced, many feeling that they’ve been forced out of their neighborhoods and unable to buy their way back in. I’m curious if there’s any plan to address them?
There are billions of dollars in the bipartisan infrastructure law and in the Inflation Reduction Act to actually do that. There’s also lots of money [in the bill], for example, to make sure that we have clean buses so that people don’t have to suck exhaust out of them. There’s a vast amount of money in this bill to start creating jobs that put money in people’s pockets, which if they have it, they don’t have to move out of their neighborhoods, and nobody can come jump on top of it because they got a little bit more money.
There’s a vast amount of money in the bill and in the budget that focuses on childcare, so that people actually have the ability to go to work and earn a living to make sure that they can stay in their neighborhood. There’s a lot of investment in homeownership, rental assistance, and things of that matter.
This president wants to invest in people and invest in America. He wants to make sure that working class folks have a leg up, he wants to ease that burden, and he wants to lower costs. The other side doesn’t want to do that.
The other side keeps wanting to tip the hat to the wealthiest people in the world, run off paying less money than working class folks paying taxes, threaten the deficit, and cut the services that people need most just to be able to get to work every day.
That’s not a prescription for success. That’s not what the President’s value are.
Ezekiel Walker: President Biden’s approval rating recently hit its highest point in almost a year, according to a new NPR-PBS NewsHour-Marist poll, rising to 46 percent, what do you attribute to the rise?
Mitch Landrieu: Well, he [President Biden] just gets up every day and works hard. You know, I see him often. I mean, I’ve never seen the guy who just keeps after it. And he’s talking about a very simple proposition to build the economy.
He talks about kitchen table issues all the time. And he’s delivering — 12.1 million jobs, the lowest unemployment rate that we’ve seen in the last 50 years, especially in communities of color. 800,000 manufacturing jobs, high-paying jobs that will keep people in their home so that nobody can come in the neighborhood and take their house away.
Not to mention high speed internet, so that our kids and our farmers and everybody who needs it can have access to knowledge because that’s the great equalizer. You know that, especially in communities of color, they can take the information away. They can take your books away. And if they can take your right to vote away — they take everything from you. He wants to protect that and that’s who he’s been and I think people see that.
Polls tend to say, you know, ‘do you like somebody or not?’ When polls started saying, ‘but let me tell you what the alternative is’ people will think, ‘oh, you know what, I kind of like what I got.’
Let’s start making decisions about who’s got the best values and who’s fighting for the American people. I like my guy.
This interview was edited for clarity.