(The Center Square) – President Joe Biden visited Chicago's northwest suburbs on Wednesday to talk about the American Rescue Plan Act, a $1.9 trillion package of new spending approved by Congress in March.
Biden spoke in Crystal Lake at McHenry County College. McHenry County is the only Chicago collar county that favored Donald Trump during last year's presidential election.
The American Rescue Plan provided new stimulus checks of $1,400 for individuals, set aside hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars for education and child care initiatives among other projects.
“When we passed the American Rescue Act, there were a lot of naysayers,” Biden said. “The doubters said it would not work, well we have created over 3 million jobs since I've taken office.”
Critics say Biden's plan is burdening future taxpayers with massive debt – U.S. national debt is now nearly $28 trillion – unnecessarily bails out local and state governments with funding unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic, and is slowing economic recovery by extending federal supplemental unemployment benefits while businesses are struggling to find workers, despite job growth.
One of the main points of Biden's speech is his plan to rebuild America by investing hundreds of billions of dollars in education, infrastructure and other projects. Biden, for example, wants to make community colleges such as McHenry County College tuition-free for students by raising taxes on wealthier Americans and corporations.
“To truly win the 21st century and once again lead the world, to truly build the economy from the bottom up, we need to invest in our people,” Biden said.
In response, Republican Illinois state Sen. Craig Wilcox said American families will pay for Biden's new taxing and spending initiatives because they will stifle the economy.
“For the President to say he has it all squared away and that it's all free, I don't think Americans are that naive to believe that their government is going to just hand out stuff for free,” Wilcox said.
Biden has proposed higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations to pay for initiatives included in his overall Build Back Better agenda, which includes the American Rescue Plan Act. Wilcox said the higher taxes would hurt the economy by driving up inflation.
“That's going to drive inflation,” Wilcox said. “Inflation is the hidden tax on every American. We have seen the price of gas, we have seen the price of lumber and groceries increase, and that's already eating into middle-class income.”
Biden is the first sitting president to visit McHenry County.