USDA Secretary Vilsack on Biden’s jobs, families plans


n this Dec. 11, 2020, file photo former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who the Biden administration chose to reprise that role, speaks during an event at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — During his first address to a joint session of Congress this week, President Joe Biden unveiled a number of sweeping plans to deal with what he says are problems in the country that need once in a lifetime investments.

One such plan would deal with more nutritional support for children from chronically impoverished areas. It would allow the U.S. Department of Agriculture to continue and expand those programs year-round, not just during the school year.

Political Reporter Rick Albin talked to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack about Republican concerns over the cost of the president’s two massive infrastructure proposals, which would cost $4.1 trillion.

The former Iowa governor says it’s about return on investment.

“The reality is that businesses are going to benefit from the American Jobs Plan, a plan that is basically going to invest in the infrastructure necessary for business to be successful. When you’ve got better roads and bridges and you’ve got better airports and ports and better inland water systems, you can get your product to market more quickly, more efficiently, more competitively and you can profit from that.

When you have expansion of broadband and you’re a small business owner in a rural area, you have the opportunity to open up markets that you didn’t have before because now you have the technology to reach those markets,” he told News 8.

Vislack says there are a lot of opportunities in the $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan.

“If you’re a farmer, you’re excited about the climate smart agriculture investment, the bio-based manufacturing investment, the fact that your rural coop is going to get resources to transition to clean and less expensive energy, all of that incredibly important. So, you’re excited about the American Jobs Plan and you recognize at the end of the day corporations and the country will benefit from this investment in infrastructure,” Vislack said.

He went on to explain some of the benefits proposed in the president’s $1.8 trillion families plan.

“On the American Families Plan, you also recognize out there in rural areas, a lot of families are struggling. And the fact that they get a tax credit for their children, they get a tax credit for the child care they have to pay —that’s very expensive — makes it a little bit easier, lowers taxes most middle class and low-income families. And if you are making less than $400,000 as a couple, you’re not going to be impacted at all by the increases. If you’re making more than $400,000, you may be impacted, but I think most families would be more than happy to change places with folks who are making $400,000 if it meant they had to pay a little more tax,” Vilsack said.

The agriculture secretary is just one of many administration officials fanning out around the country to push Biden’s plan following this week’s speech.

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