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How Latinx communities are benefiting from Biden’s economic agenda

The president deserves credit for the impact the $1.9 trillion stimulus package has had on Latinx communities, and for what’s to come from the infrastructure package and the Build Back Better bill.

Latino supporters attend a Biden/Harris campaign rally in Las Vegas on Oct. 24, 2020.Melina Mara

After the surprising electoral outcomes in Virginia and New Jersey earlier this month, one conclusion political pundits rushed to draw was that Democrats are going to be in deep trouble in next year’s midterm elections.

Consider the talking point that Senator Rick Scott of Florida, who’s leading the GOP’s national efforts to flip the Senate as the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, has been amplifying in conservative media. Earlier this month, Scott told the Daily Caller that the “Hispanic vote is going to come out for Republicans.

“Hispanic voters are fed up with what the Democrats are doing,” Scott said. “If you look at the poll we did with Hispanic voters about a month ago, they’ve completely rejected the Biden agenda and so they’ve moved in our direction.”


That’s a bit of an overreach, since there isn’t meaningful evidence that Latinos are rejecting Biden’s agenda. The truth is that Biden’s three historic and sweeping pieces of legislation stand to benefit Latinos greatly. It is an elemental perspective that has, for the most part, gone ignored — and not just by the likes of Scott and the conservative press.

Biden has rightly been criticized on various immigration and refugee-related issues, which are important to some, but not all, Hispanic voters. Yet the president deserves credit for the impact the $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package — the American Rescue Plan Act, signed into law in March — has had on Latinx communities, and for what’s to come from the infrastructure package signed into law last week and the massive social spending and environmental bill that the House just passed, known as the Build Back Better bill (it still needs the approval of the Senate, which will not be an easy feat.)


Consider the stimulus bill’s signs of Latino success: The unemployment rate for Hispanic workers fell from 8.6 percent in January to 5.9 percent in October. The rescue plan’s expansion of the child tax credit, for which 17 million Latino children are eligible, has shown incredible promise. After the first round of such tax credits were distributed in the summer, the monthly poverty rate for Latinos went down from 22.9 percent in June to 16.8 percent in July. That’s nearly 1.1 million Latino children who were moved out of poverty thanks to Biden’s COVID-19 relief package. And the Build Back Better legislation would extend this significantly enhanced child tax credit through 2022.

Then there’s the infrastructure deal, which will create millions of jobs. Construction and transportation are two key sectors with a high concentration of Latinos: They account for 36 percent and 24 percent, respectively, of all workers. It’s why Hispanic Democrats in Congress are already boasting about the thousands of union jobs that the deal will create in those industries.

Someone should remind Rick Scott about those data points, and the Republicans’ staunch opposition to the stimulus package and Build Back Better bill, when he and others in his party try to argue why Hispanics should vote for the GOP.

As for the Democrats, many progressives wish Biden would do more for Hispanics and other communities of color. “There is an enormous amount of executive action” that Biden and his White House are not using, according to Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, who is perhaps the leading progressive voice in the party. “On student loans,” she told The New York Times. “We’ve got executive action on the table with respect to climate. There are certainly things that we can do with immigration.”


That’s fair criticism. Crucially, though, there is ample room for Democrats to improve their message. Build Back Better has been sold as a safety net package but, as others have argued in detail, it’s also a jobs bill. Democrats need to keep touting the sweeping economic gains Latinx communities are experiencing, and will continue to reap, thanks to Biden.

Marcela García can be reached at marcela.garcia@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @marcela_elisa and on Instagram @marcela_elisa.