PRESS RELEASE: 200+ FORMER OBAMA OFFICIALS: DON’T SHORTCHANGE COVID RECOVERY LIKE WAS DONE DURING GREAT RECESSION 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 5, 2021

Contact:
Maddy McDaniel, Communications Director
[email protected] or 914-471-7716

200+ FORMER OBAMA OFFICIALS: DON’T SHORTCHANGE COVID RECOVERY LIKE WAS DONE DURING GREAT RECESSION 

Signers Include Six Former Cabinet Secretaries, John Podesta, Valerie Jarrett

The Letter Urges Congress Not to Listen To Those Arguing We Should Nickel and Dime the Covid Recovery Like They Did During the 2009 Recession

Majority of Americans Want a Large Covid Relief Package As Soon As Possible Regardless Of Whether It Passes By A Bipartisan Vote In Congress

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, more than 200 former officials from President Barack Obama’s administration signed a letter urging Congress to pass the American Rescue Plan and to not let Congressional Republicans or those arguing against going big to sabotage the recovery efforts like they attempted to do during the Great Recession. When Congress was legislating the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), billions were siphoned away from provisions that would have spurred more job creation, costing the economy nearly 1 million jobs. Then, deep spending cuts were forced before the economy could recover.

Now, some are repeating many of the same arguments to weaken President Joe Biden’s proposed American Rescue Plan.

Read more about the efforts that hampered the recovery from the recession here.

The 200+ Obama Administration officials write in the letter:

“President Joe Biden has inherited an even worse situation than our nation faced back in 2009: a national health crisis that has led to the deaths of more than 400,000 Americans on top of an economic catastrophe that has put tens of millions out of work and shuttered hundreds of thousands of businesses, with both crises hitting communities of color especially hard.

“Unfortunately, his efforts to restore the economy by putting money in people’s pockets and saving jobs are already being met with opposition from those claiming we can’t afford it. They are using the same arguments they used to undermine the ARRA that cost our economy nearly a million jobs.

“But we know from history that they are wrong and sabotaging the ability of our nation to fully and equitably recover.

“The only thing we can’t afford is to underfund America’s recovery.”

Read the full letter and view its more than 200 signers here.

President Biden’s robust plan meets the urgency of the moment, providing another round of direct stimulus checks, an expansion of unemployment insurance, much-needed relief to state and local governments to keep essential workers on the job, help for renters and homeowners, aid to small businesses and assistance to public schools so they can reopen, among other key provisions.

“We can get through this together. We can rebuild stronger. We can get kids and teachers back in schools safely. But we can’t do any of it by shortchanging the recovery,” said Former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. 

“In 2009, Republicans hurt the economy to hurt President Obama. But it was families and communities who suffered,” said Alyssa Mastromonaco, Former White House Deputy Chief of Staff. “Since March, Americans have been doing their part to fight the pandemic and clinging to the hope of promised relief. Underwhelming half measures for the American people are not acceptable.”

“Women, and especially women of color, are on the front lines of this pandemic. Hundreds of thousands of women have been pushed out of the workforce, and millions more are putting their health on the line to keep our hospitals, grocery stores, daycare centers, and other essential services running, said Tina Tchen, Former Chief of Staff to First Lady Michelle Obama and Executive Director of the White House Counsel on Women and Girls. “Every day we delay this recovery, every dollar we skimp, women and families pay the price.”

The more than 200 signers of the letter include:

  • Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez

  • Former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius

  • Former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro

  • Former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

  • Former U.S. Secretary of Education John King

  • Former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano

  • Former Counselor to President Obama John Podesta

  • Former Senior Adviser to President Obama Valerie Jarrett

  • Former White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Nancy-Ann DeParle

  • Former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Alyssa Mastromonaco

  • Former Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes

  • Former Senior Advisor to President Obama Dan Pfeiffer

  • Former White House Director of Speechwriting Jon Favreau

  • Former White House Social Secretary Deesha Dyer

  • Former White House Press Secretary Jay Carney

  • Former White House Director of Speechwriting Cody Keenan

  • Former White House Deputy Communications Director Liz Allen

  • Former Deputy Press Secretary to Vice President Joe Biden Amy Dudley

  • Former Press Secretary to Vice President Joe Biden Kendra Barkoff

  • Former Director of Administration and Senior Advisor for Vice President Joe Biden Moe Vela

  • Former Senior Advisor to President Obama Shailagh Murray

Read the letter below:

“The challenges our country faced when President Barack Obama first took office more than a decade ago were staggering. We faced an economic crisis the size of which hadn’t been seen since the dark days of the Great Depression. 

It was a national emergency that required an urgent response from our government, which is why we fought tooth and nail to pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), ultimately saving and protecting millions of jobs, raising the GDP by up to 4 percent in 2010 alone, and cutting the unemployment rate in half — the fastest pace of decline in thirty years. With investments and tax incentives supporting clean energy, education, and infrastructure projects, the ARRA also took critical steps to support long-term growth. 

However, while the ARRA helped staunch the bleeding, the resistance we faced from deficit fear mongers seeking to water it down ate up valuable time and diluted the amount of aid that reached struggling families and small businesses. 

Instead of working to ensure the bill matched the size of the crisis, Congressional Republicans focused on making dramatic cuts, claiming the emergency didn’t justify the expense. They halved the funds for public school construction, cut $26 billion from President Obama’s “making work pay” tax relief program and slashed funding for state and local aid. These shortsighted efforts ended up prolonging the economic pain and inhibited our ability to bounce back quickly. 

We can’t let the same thing happen again. 

President Joe Biden has inherited an even worse situation than our nation faced back in 2009: a national health crisis that has led to the deaths of more than 400,000 Americans on top of an economic catastrophe that has put tens of millions out of work and shuttered hundreds of thousands of businesses, with both crises hitting communities of color especially hard.

Unfortunately, his efforts to restore the economy by putting money in people’s pockets and saving jobs are already being met with opposition from those claiming we can’t afford it. They are using the same arguments they used to undermine the ARRA that cost our economy nearly a million jobs. 

But we know from history that they are wrong and sabotaging the ability of our nation to fully and equitably recover.

The only thing we can’t afford is to underfund America’s recovery. 

Every dollar we spend to strengthen our nation during this time of crisis is a downpayment that will pay for itself and help our country thrive in the future. We must learn the lessons from the last economic crisis and pass a large stimulus package to get us back on track.

In the words of President Biden when he announced the plan, “failure to do so will cost us dearly.”

About Invest in America

Invest In America is a national rapid response operation advocating for robust public investment to rescue the economy from the COVID crisis and create prosperity for the future, and to fight back against fear-mongers who use deficit concerns as a scapegoat to starve American communities and businesses of resources.

The operation consists of two components: Invest in America, the charitable and public education arm, which is a fiscally sponsored project of Economic Security Project funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Economic Security Project co-chair Chris Hughes; and Invest in America Action, the advocacy and social welfare arm, which is a fiscally sponsored project of Economic Security Project Action funded by Chris Hughes and the Omidyar Network.

Learn more at InvestInAmericaNow.com and @InvestNowUSA, and InvestinAmericaProject.com.

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