Former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke endorsed the ambitious economic recovery plan unveiled by his one-time opponent, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, during a Zoom conference call Friday.
Announced Thursday, the “Build Back Better” plan aims to create 5 million new jobs in the U.S.’ manufacturing and technology sectors. It would also introduce a higher corporate tax rate, save small businesses from shuttering and boost income for blue-collar workers and minorities.
“This will do more than anything else to make sure that [American business owners are] back on their feet, their doors are back open and their employees are back to work,” O’Rourke said.
The Texas congressman had once warned that a Biden presidency would mean a “return to the past.” After dropping out of the 2020 presidential race, though, O’Rourke quickly announced his support for the former vice president. Now, he’s vowed to do everything in his power to help Biden secure a win.
Biden’s economic plan would focus squarely on benefiting working class Americans, O’Rourke said during the meeting, which was hosted by the Texas Democratic Party and Biden’s presidential campaign.
Its “Buy American” proposal would allocate a $400 billion investment in procurement to increase demand for U.S. products, O’Rourke said. The plan would also focus on assisting smaller manufacturers, especially those owned by women and minorities.
Black and brown employees, many of whom are on the frontlines of the COVID crisis, should be paid an equitable wage when compared with their white peers, O’Rourke said. Biden’s plan would require companies receiving procurement contracts to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour and to offer paid leave.
In his Here’s the Deal podcast, Biden told one-time presidential hopeful Andrew Yang that he will create a more prosperous America upon winning the race.
“In my view, this is not about getting us back to where we were before the coronavirus crisis; that’s not good enough,” Biden said.
Around $300 billion of Biden’s plan would be funneled into research and development for new technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence and clean energy vehicles, O’Rourke said. Such technology could also help the country combat climate change, he added.
While Texas is famous for its oil production, O’Rourke said he’s confident the state’s voters will support Biden’s clean energy proposal. Texas has already embraced green energy, O’Rourke said, as it ranks first in the nation’s wind energy industry.
If the U.S. doesn’t act fast to develop clean energy technologies, other enterprising countries will soon surpass it in the global market, O’Rourke said.
“We have this choice before us: Do we want to develop them here in America … or do we want China or some other country to take the lead on that?” he said.
It’s imperative that Biden prevail during this time of crisis, O’Rourke said. He blamed President Donald Trump’s lack of leadership for the cratering U.S. economy and the nation's colossal COVID-19 death count.
Although the U.S. makes up 4% of the global population, O’Rourke noted that it’s had 25% of the world’s coronavirus cases.
“This is unacceptable, and this is clearly a reflection of a lack of leadership that we see in the White House and we see here in our state in the governor’s mansion,” he said. “So we desperately need new leadership right now, and it’s part of the reason that I am so grateful that Vice President Biden is our nominee.”
During his bid for the U.S. Senate in 2018, O’Rourke traveled to each of Texas' 254 counties. Although the move bolstered his reputation among certain voters, he still lost to incumbent U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.
The coronavirus pandemic has restricted his ability to travel, but O’Rourke said he’s organized a massive outreach effort in the virtual realm. His political action committee, Powered by People, has employed hundreds of volunteers to call left-leaning Texans and encourage them to vote for Biden, O’Rourke said.
If successful, Biden will be the first presidential nominee to turn the state blue since 1976, when a majority of Texans voted for Jimmy Carter. Plus, winning Texas would make it harder for Trump to dispute the election’s results, O’Rourke said.
“If we win Texas, it will be seismic in its impact: There will be no question about the result,” O’Rourke said. “We can turn the page, begin a new chapter, ‘build back better’ for America.”