Local progressive groups are teaming up in an effort to push Congressman Ed Case, D-Hawaii, to support President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion “Build Back Better” plan, which aims to aggressively address issues such as climate change, child care and rebuilding infrastructure.
Case has expressed hesitancy to support the measure, which is considered one of the key elements in Biden’s domestic agenda.
Organizations such as the Hawaii Youth Climate Coalition, the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women and Young Progressives Demanding Action joined together to form Our Hawai‘i Action.
The new group, which held a news conference and sign-waving event Monday in Manoa, plans to spend $130,000 over the next few weeks to spread their message in television and radio and print advertisements, including in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. They also plan to go door-to-door to talk to residents in Case’s district.
In his community e-newsletter to constituents, Case maintained that while he supports aspects of the Build Back Better plan, he will first advocate for the $1 trillion-plus bipartisan infrastructure package that has already passed out of the Senate and would mean $2 billion for Hawaii.
Case emphasized that Build Back Better’s cost must be paid for with increased revenue or reduced expenses. However, he noted that an exception should be made for climate change, which he believes needs immediate investment even if it must be borrowed.
Case categorized Our Hawai‘i Action ads as “misinformation.” He added, “Although I accept full debate and strong disagreement, I don’t accept the intentional misinformation woven throughout these ads.”
Kaniela Ing, a co-founder of Our Hawai‘i Action, described Build Back Better’s potential flow of funding for Hawaii as “the biggest bill that will actually help working people that I’ve ever seen … come from Congress.”
Ing continued, “We need to invest if we don’t want to pay a lot more later — for the climate catastrophe, there’s gonna be more pandemics … as things get more and more unstable. So we really need to set the foundation now.”
Khara Jabola-Carolus, executive director at the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women, emphasized the need for a federal child care and family leave program to be implemented, because of the lack of support in the Legislature to pass those types of programs locally.
“Women in Hawaii suffered the highest unemployment in the United States during COVID. And part of that is because we’re a child care desert,” she said. “We do need to push this idea that child care has to be part of an economy’s infrastructure. And so this bill would give millions of dollars to Hawaii for that, as well as paid family leave.”