WASHINGTON DC (Monitoring Desk): President Biden on Friday defended his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan after a disappointing jobs report, arguing that the new data prove the necessity of the legislation and that it would take more time for the economy to recover.
“When we came into office, we knew we were facing a once-in-a-century pandemic and a once-in-a-generation economic crisis. And we knew this wouldn’t be a sprint, it would be a marathon,” Biden said in remarks from the East Room of the White House.
“It was designed to help us over the course of a year, not 60 days, a year,” he said of the coronavirus relief passed earlier this year. “We never thought after the first 60 days that everything would be fine.”
Biden framed his remarks as an effort to put the jobs report in “perspective.”
Biden’s comments come after the U.S. economy added 266,000 jobs during the month of April and the unemployment rate rose to 6.1 percent, according to data released earlier Friday. The number came in far below economy experts’ expectations.
The figures led Republicans to swiftly criticize Biden’s agenda, arguing that it proved that his large recovery package was too extreme and incentivized people not to work.
“Today’s jobs report is a disappointment—just like President Biden’s plan to burden families with more taxes & more debt,” tweeted House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). “While Dems trap people in a cycle of fear & pay them NOT to work, it’s clear the best thing to do is end the crisis-era policies & get Americans back to work.”
Biden pushed back on those claims, saying that the figures showed that the recovery package was needed given the fragility of the U.S. economy. He also said that aspects of the legislation have yet to be felt, noting that assistance to restaurants and state and local governments will start going out this month.
“This is going to continue to improve. Today’s report makes clear, thank goodness we passed the American rescue plan. Help is here and more help is on the way and more help is needed,” Biden said.
“Let’s not let up. We’re still digging our way out of a very deep hole we were put in. no one should underestimate how tough this battle is,” he said.
Biden also plugged his $2.3 trillion infrastructure and climate plan that he unveiled earlier this year, saying passing it would create new jobs to further strengthen the economy in the future.
Biden rejected the notion that the enhanced unemployment benefits included in the rescue package diminished return to work in some categories when asked by a reporter at the end of his remarks.
“No, nothing measurable,” Biden said.