Among the more stunning things Biden has done is to expand the definition of infrastructure to include human infrastructure, especially those humans in the grossly underpaid care economy. According to the White House briefing materials, the latest legislation will:
Solidify the infrastructure of our care economy by creating jobs and raising wages and benefits for essential home care workers. These workers—the majority of whom are women of color—have been underpaid and undervalued for too long. The President’s plan makes substantial investments in the infrastructure of our care economy, starting by creating new and better jobs for caregiving workers.
Here’s an idea. Almost all funds that pay for nursing home care, and child care, and home care, except for self-pays by the well-to-do, come directly or indirectly from government.
Suppose government required that all jobs caring for the old, the young, or the sick pay at least $25 an hour. I did a rough calculation, and the cost would be around $100 billion a year, or a lot less than the cost of Trump’s 2017 tax cut.
Government could begin with much higher payments for Medicaid nursing homes, coupled with a requirement that all of the increment go to workers rather than to line the pockets of nursing home operators.
Last year, we published a special issue on the caring economy. It is a disgrace in America that anyone makes less than $15 an hour. It is a special disgrace that we pay caregivers a pittance.