Jun 4, 2021
Press Secretary Jen Psaki Social Media Briefing Transcript June 4
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki held a social media briefing on June 4, 2021. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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Jen Psaki: (00:15)
Hi, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I apologize for being late. That’s completely my fault. I know a lot of you are working parents and have very busy jobs, so I apologize. But I’m really looking forward to having conversation with you and hearing what’s on your minds.
Jen Psaki: (00:29)
I also want to thank you for everything you do on your platforms to communicate with the American public about everything, somewhat that we’re doing, but everything that’s going on out there. It’s really important platforms, so thank you. Hannah, I think we’re starting with you.
Hannah Bronfman: (00:47)
Hi, Jen. How are you?
Jen Psaki: (00:48)
I’m great. How are you?
Hannah Bronfman: (00:50)
Good. Thank you so much for having us here. Really appreciate it. I’m Hannah Bronfman and I am a wellness entrepreneur. I’m the founder of HBFIT and I wrote a book called Do What Feels Good. And I’m just going to hop right into my first question here.
Hannah Bronfman: (01:05)
So research shows that there are many benefits of high quality preschool associated with the development of children, such as improved reading and math skills. In addition to the benefits for children, preschool increases labor force participation among women which boosts family earnings. In President Biden’s American Family Plan, he calls for free universal high quality preschool to all three and four-year-olds. While this universal access to preschool for all families can be beneficial to low income families, what are the strategies the Biden administration is thinking about implementing that will ensure that lower socioeconomic communities will have access to these resources?
Jen Psaki: (01:45)
Well, Hannah, thank you so much for your question. This is such a hugely important issue. And while I’m excited about a lot of the things we’re doing in the Biden-Harris administration, I will say the American Families Plan and a lot of the potential benefits for childcare, for early childhood education, as you mentioned, are very close to my heart and I’m very excited about.
Jen Psaki: (02:03)
And just to add to the important point you just made, statistics show that kids who go to preschool, universal preschool as opposed to daycare, are more than 50% more likely to graduate from high school. And if that doesn’t tell you how important this is to invest in I don’t know what does.
Jen Psaki: (02:21)
But your childcare question is a really important one because as you know and I know, a lot of families need wraparound care. They want to send their kids to universal preschool, but they also may need childcare after that. Or maybe they have kids who aren’t three or four, as you said, and they still don’t have enough money to make ends meet. So what’s proposed in the President’s American Families Plan is that for families making up to 1.5% of the state median income, they will pay no more than 7% of their income for all children under five for childcare. That’s what’s proposed. It’s something that we know, as you said, Hannah, which is such an important point, to get more women in the workforce to ensure we have a more diverse workforce, we need to make childcare easier and more affordable. So that’s definitely a key component of the plan.
Hannah Bronfman: (03:11)
Love that. Thank you for that answer, Jen. I’m a new mom and I know that you are a mom of two young children and you’re a total boss lady so-
Jen Psaki: (03:21)
So are you. How old is your son?
Hannah Bronfman: (03:25)
Jen Psaki: (03:25)
Six months? Oh my goodness. Are you sleeping at all?
Hannah Bronfman: (03:29)
Miraculously, I am. He’s a very-
Jen Psaki: (03:32)
Wow. You have a miracle baby. Miracle baby.
Hannah Bronfman: (03:35)
So I’ve heard. So I just want to ask you, you’re in an extreme high stress position but you do it with such great, so I just wanted to ask if you have any sort of work balance tips that you can share with the new mom community.
Jen Psaki: (03:55)
Sure. Well, first, I would say, and I’ve learned this over time not that I’m an expert, but I have a five- and-a-half-year-old, or she would say five and three quarters or something like that, and a three-year-old, and what I’ve learned over time is to be gentle with myself, to give myself space and not to allow myself to be judged by what the expectations are of others.
Jen Psaki: (04:15)
When I took this job, one of the things that I was very mindful of, and I’m sure this is a challenge for you as you’re dealing with your busy life and having a child, is how do I get that quality time with them? I’m not going to be home at 5 o’clock or 5:15 so I’m not going to have that time where you’re reading books and you’re getting ready for dinner, and I just realized I had to make my own path for it.
Jen Psaki: (04:38)
I spend time with my kids. My daughter is a self-designated early riser so sometimes she’s up in my room at 5:30 in the morning or 5:45 in the morning. I spend time with them early in the morning. We get quality time. This morning, we read Lady and the Tramp before I came to work. I have a whole life sometimes before I come to work. But that 45 minutes of time is my time. It’s quality time for me. It doesn’t have to look like what it looks like for everybody else, but that’s one of the lessons I guess I’ve learned over time. And I hope other moms who are close followers of yours or other parents, dads too, they’re also important, be gentle on themselves and don’t let the expectations of others on what your work-life balance needs to look like determine what your path forward is.
Hannah Bronfman: (05:25)
Amazing. Thank you so much. I just really, again, thank you for having us all here today because this is a very monumentous moment for all of us, I think. So thank you.
Jen Psaki: (05:35)
Thank you and thanks for chatting. You have a miracle baby, and keep rocking it as a working mom.
Hannah Bronfman: (05:40)
Thank you so much.
Jen Psaki: (05:43)
All right. So Drew and Jonathan, I think you’re next. Can I just say first that my daughter… I don’t know if this is your TV demographic, but my five-and-a-half-year old is obsessed with your show. She loves home shows. That is her ask more than Disney movies-
Drew Scott: (06:00)
Amazing. We’re looking for a property sister so [crosstalk 00:06:03] handy and she can swing the sledgehammer, great.
Jen Psaki: (06:05)
She’s in. She’s in. She’s in. She gives lots of critiques. She has points of view. So great to meet you.
Drew Scott: (06:12)
Great to meet you.
Jonathan Scott: (06:12)
Yeah. And I just want to say as well, a huge opportunity for us as well to talk to you about what the families we work with are looking for. We’ve renovated over 470 homes with our shows, helped 470 families, so we’ve really, over the years, learned what’s important to families and so this is a great way to discuss that.
Drew Scott: (06:31)
And also for years… I mean, we’ve worked with Habitat for Humanity building safe and affordable housing in the U.S. and around the world so that everyone has a decent place to live, so my question focuses on how this administration is working on the housing challenge.
Drew Scott: (06:44)
So throughout the pandemic, we were told that staying in our homes was the first line of defense to keep our families and communities safe and healthy, but what about those who didn’t have safe or decent housing or were in overcrowded living spaces? What have you learned through the pandemic about the importance of housing and what could be done to support it?
Jen Psaki: (07:04)
It’s been a huge issue during the pandemic as you both well know given all of the important work that you do. There’s a number of steps we’ve taken as an administration. We’ve, of course, supported and put in place an eviction moratorium that has allowed many people to stay in their homes. At the end of April, there were over six million renters who had not paid back rent according to the U.S. census, making them more at risk of eviction, which really tells you how widespread this challenge was, as you both know, but across the country. In the pandemic, we focused a lot on the health component of this, but this is a dual crisis. There’s also an economic crisis, and one that was impacting people who were having a challenging time staying in their houses, of course, being able to buy houses, but even stay in their homes they were renting. So that’s an area we supported. A total of $45 billion in rental assistance has been made available to Americans, including 21.5 billion in the American Rescue Plan. So that’s something that we have gotten out there into communities just even over the last couple of months.
Jen Psaki: (08:10)
But what you also know is that we also need to think about how we are addressing additional challenges like supply chain issues. That’s one of the areas we’ve been focused on because as you all know, there are shortages of lumber and construction tools, and that’s impacting the number of new homes that communities are able to build, which is impacting the prices of homes that have been around for a while. So we also have a supply chain review that’s been underway, and we want to use many levers in the federal government to help address those shortages and see what we can do to address it.
Jen Psaki: (08:43)
And then the third thing I would say is we really want to think about the opportunity we have moving forward to invest in industries, invest in retrofitting homes, invest in ways that we can modernize how we think about construction and housing and opportunities in the future. So it’s definitely on our minds. And making sure we are enabling families to put food on the table, to stay in their homes during this still difficult time, good jobs number, still seven million people are out of work is very front and center for the president and this entire administration.
Jonathan Scott: (09:18)
Amazing. Thank you. I guess I’ll jump in with my little mini separate bio for myself. I’m Jonathan, I’m the better-looking Property Brother.
Jen Psaki: (09:27)
Clearly. I can confirm that.
Jonathan Scott: (09:28)
Everyone else says it. Last year we put a documentary out on PBS, and it was really a three-year deep dive in my life into the secret war that was being waged against the renewable energy industry by fossil fuel utilities. It was mind blowing to me, and I’m in the home space, to learn about a lot of this stuff and so some of that research that came back is sort of directing the question I have for you. According to Rewiring America, which is a nonprofit I’m a part of that’s committed to electrifying the economy as a path to addressing the climate crisis, there were at least 65 million-
Jonathan Scott: (10:03)
… path to addressing the climate crisis. There are at least 65 million homes that would save a little over 27 billion on their energy bills every single year if we leveled the cost between efficient electric space and water heaters in comparison to the appliances they replace. Our households are responsible for 42% of our energy-related emissions, so the only way to hit the president’s climate targets would be to electrify every home in America. My audience, I know it’s very important to them to save money on their bills, and if they can help the planet along the way, all the better. So my question is how will the American Jobs Plan catalyze the market so that we can make these electric appliances the least expensive and the most convenient alternative at the time of replacement?
Jen Psaki: (10:45)
Well, I love this question. I love every question, but I love this question because people shorthand the American Jobs Plan as an infrastructure plan, and it absolutely is, but it is also a green jobs plan and a plan that will help our climate, that will put millions of people back to work and also make homes more energy-efficient for so many families, saving costs for them. There’s a win-win-win-win-win there. There’s so many benefits. So I would say what the president’s proposed in the American Jobs Plan is funding to build, rehabilitate, and retrofit more than 2 million homes across the country. That includes an effort that will create new domestic manufacturing opportunities for electric heating and cooling technology that you referenced, help making those appliances more efficient as you’re building more homes and as others around the country are building more homes.
Jen Psaki: (11:33)
It’s so exciting, because it’s multiple benefits, right? These homes are going to cost less because they’ll be more efficient. People will be able to spend less money on it. It’s better for the environment, for Mother Earth, as my daughter and I call it. It’s a lot of benefits. I will also tell you, though, there’s another piece that our Department of Energy is working on, the advanced water heating initiative. This initiative is going to increase the use of high-efficiency grid-connected heat pump water heaters in residential and commercial buildings, which are two to four times, as I’m sure you know, more efficient than conventional water heaters. So we’re getting that initiative going even as we’re working to get this funding to retrofit 2 million homes, because this is a huge priority to this administration.
Jonathan Scott: (12:22)
I think that’s the exciting thing, too, because we’re in a time where I’ve seen that the technology is now here. It’s not an either-or situation. It’s good for jobs, good for investment, good for the economy.
Drew Scott: (12:31)
Yeah. You can’t pretend it’s not good for jobs and everything. So thank you so much.
Jen Psaki: (12:34)
No, absolutely not. It absolutely is. Rebuilding lead pipes so kids have clean drinking water, that creates jobs. Making sure our infrastructure is weatherized, that creates jobs, and we can do it in a way that’s beneficial to everyone. Thank you so much.
Drew Scott: (12:50)
Thank you so much for your time.
Jen Psaki: (12:50)
That’s very nice to meet you both. All right. Let’s see here.
Drew Scott: (12:54)
Say hi to your daughter, by the way. Tell her we’ll send her a little-
Jen Psaki: (12:56)
She’ll be very excited. She’ll be very excited. Okay. So Amelie, I think you’re next. Oh, yes. You’re next on the screen.
Amelie Zilber: (13:05)
Jen Psaki: (13:05)
Very nice to meet you.
Amelie Zilber: (13:08)
You, too. My name is Amelie Zilber. I just finished my freshman year at Georgetown University. So I’m very, very, very honored to be here.
Jen Psaki: (13:18)
Amelie Zilber: (13:19)
Yes. Go, Hoyas. I use my platform mainly to spread awareness about social justice issues and to inform young people in specific about domestic and international current affairs. So, again, what an honor. Thank you so much. I’m so very grateful. I’m just going to jump straight into my question.
Jen Psaki: (13:35)
Amelie Zilber: (13:36)
The American Families Plan includes an initiative granting everyone two free years of college. However, a significant number of working class American families suffer from broader problems beyond that, of just having the resources to access affordable education. They work on week-to-week paychecks and simply cannot afford the time off to attend college. So how will the American Families Plan accommodate families to help them escape structural poverty?
Jen Psaki: (14:05)
Such a great question. Well, first, the American Families Plan is a key component of it for a number of reasons. One is that it’s going to invest 109 billion, as you said, into the economy, or that’s what we’re proposing, to help make community college free for so many people around the country who wouldn’t otherwise have that opportunity. But we also know that some people who might be taking the opportunity to go back to college, my mom didn’t go to college until after I was born and she was, I think, in her late … She must’ve been in her thirties. She was in her thirties. Some people have kids when they go back to college, and we need to plan for that, too.
Jen Psaki: (14:41)
That’s also why there’s an opportunity in the American Families Plan or there’s funding that we’re proposing, I should say, to help make childcare more affordable and more accessible for so many families across the country, because we know that that can be a huge factor that’s preventing sometimes moms or working moms from being able to take those college classes, whether they’re at night or on the weekends or whenever they may be convenient. I think we are really trying to, through this proposal, but also through all of our initiatives, Amelie, make investing in education something that’s from the start, right? This community college initiative will help people now, but what we’ve seen through statistics is that people who attend universal pre-K, who attend preschool as opposed to daycare, they’re much more likely to graduate from high school and want to go to college. So this is also something we want to invest in from the beginning and make kids from an early age believe that this can be a part of their future and it’s not out of reach.
Amelie Zilber: (15:40)
I love that. It’s building from the ground up.
Jen Psaki: (15:42)
Amelie Zilber: (15:42)
What a beautiful answer.
Jen Psaki: (15:43)
Amelie Zilber: (15:46)
Jen Psaki: (15:46)
Thank you. It was great. Congratulations. I can’t believe you’re a college freshman. Very impressive, everything you’re doing, and thanks for using your platform to talk about all these issues. My sister also went to Georgetown, too, so that’s how I know about the Hoya piece.
Amelie Zilber: (16:00)
Go, Hoyas. Thank you.
Jen Psaki: (16:02)
Okay. Let’s see. Curly, you’re next. Hi there. Oh, I can’t hear you. Make sure you’re not on mute. Okay.
Curly Velasquez: (16:09)
I literally was like, “Woo-hoo. Hello.”
Jen Psaki: (16:11)
Oh. Oh, see? Woo-hoo. All right. Good.
Curly Velasquez: (16:14)
My name is Curly Velasquez. I’m from Los Angeles. I’m part of BuzzFeed’s Latinx vertical called Pero Like. I actually started in the kitchen and worked my way up into this channel.
Jen Psaki: (16:24)
Curly Velasquez: (16:25)
I come from a Salvadorian family that came over undocumented in the eighties, and it’s actually something that I’m super, super, super proud of. So I was really happy to see that Dreamers were included in the American Families Plan. It’s something that I really hold close to me. I was wondering, are there any other benefits for Dreamers, and will there be other opportunities for people who are looking to go back?
Jen Psaki: (16:48)
Yeah. Well, one, this is such an important question. I’m just going to repeat what you conveyed, just to give everybody all of the information. So the American Families Plan, which the president has proposed and we want to get through Congress, includes two years of free community college. We’ve talked about that a little bit, and that’s going to apply to Dreamers as well. So that’s an important component everybody should know.
Jen Psaki: (17:08)
The other piece that’s in the American Families Plan, because we know cost can be an issue even as you continue into college, right? As you maybe move past community college, is an increase in Pell Grant awards. We know there needs to be more funding for people to be able to afford to continue their education. So that’s a component as well. But overall, I think the president has been a long supporter of Dreamers, as I think you well know, and he believes that a path to citizenship should be possible and should be something that Congress can work together on in order to bring people out of the shadows and make sure that people don’t have a fear about what their future looks like. College and education is a part of that, but also we want to move forward on legislation to make sure Dreamers feel protected across the country even beyond that.
Curly Velasquez: (17:56)
Absolutely. Thank you so much for that. I mean, we are all watching. The community is so eager to see what’s going to happen. Thank you for answering that question, and yes, we are here. We are definitely watching.
Jen Psaki: (18:06)
Great. You should be. Keep holding everybody accountable, and thanks for using your platform to communicate with so many people.
Curly Velasquez: (18:13)
Thank you. Oh, trust we will. Thank you so much.
Jen Psaki: (18:16)
All right. Benito, hello.
Benito Skinner: (18:20)
Hi, Jen. [crosstalk 00:18:21].
Jen Psaki: (18:21)
Hi. How are you?
Benito Skinner: (18:23)
I’m good. How are you?
Jen Psaki: (18:23)
I’m great. I love your yellow. It’s very happy for a Friday afternoon.
Benito Skinner: (18:27)
Thank you. I’m trying. I’m trying to bring you sunshine.
Jen Psaki: (18:31)
Great. You’re bringing it.
Benito Skinner: (18:31)
Good. Okay. So my name is Benito Skinner. I’m a writer, actor, and content creator. My question for you is I come from a family of teachers, both my parents and sister, and growing up, I would often watch them work late into the night, even spending their own money on school supplies for their classes. I think a school is only as good as its teachers. So after an insanely hard a year, what does this plan do to support them?
Jen Psaki: (19:00)
Well, first, thank you to your family. You said your mother and your sister?
Benito Skinner: (19:05)
So my mom, dad, aunt, sister. Yeah, a lot of teachers.
Jen Psaki: (19:09)
Wow. You’re a family of educators. One, thank you to all of them. Teachers are hugely unsung heroes, heroes who don’t wear capes. I think as a mom and so many millions of moms across the country, we have an even greater value for teachers after the last year and seeing what they do. My mother-in-law is a retired teacher, too, so I have some in my family as well. Yeah, amazing. She taught my daughter how to read over Zoom. It’s incredible.
Jen Psaki: (19:32)
One, I would say first, teachers need more funding, and they need more funding so that they don’t have to do exactly what you said. We need to incentivize getting people into teaching. You have a family of teachers, but we want it to be an industry and a career path that people are excited about. They’re shaping future generations and young people who will be leaders in our country, moving forward. The American Families Plan, which we’re working to move forward, invests $9 billion in teachers, and that could cover things like reducing the cost of education for people who want to become-
Jen Psaki: (20:03)
Could cover things like reducing the cost of education for people who want to become teachers, making that pathway easier, helping current teachers get additional certifications in high-demand areas, paying teachers for taking on additional leadership roles in the school, like mentoring new teachers. And it’s also funding to help recruit, develop, and retain more teachers of color who can have a particularly impactful role on communities out there. We want to invest in teachers and teaching. We want them to feel as valued as they should feel out there. And just thank you again to you and your family and the incredible role they’ve played in shaping so many minds.
Benito Skinner: (20:37)
Amazing. Thank you so much. And shout out all teachers, we’re love, we’re obsessed.
Jen Psaki: (20:42)
We love teachers. Love teachers.
Benito Skinner: (20:43)
Yes. I have one more question.
Jen Psaki: (20:46)
Benito Skinner: (20:46)
It’s not as serious, but I know you were at the inauguration. I need to know if you came in contact with Lady Gaga.
Jen Psaki: (20:55)
I wish I did. I will tell you, and this is not a very fancy story, but during Lady Gaga’s performance, I was actually on a bus coming to the White House because we had to come and work that day. And I did a briefing on the first day, so I had to come to work and get ready for the briefing. So I was on a bus. I did tell you… One I will tell you, my children love Lady Gaga. I love Lady Gaga. I love the documentary. We could keep talking Lady Gaga, and we blast Bad Romance in the car sometimes, but I was in the car… not in the car. I was in a bus with some colleagues. We did all put it up on our phones so we could hear and play. She was amazing. So no, I wish I had a Lady Gaga story for you.
Benito Skinner: (21:39)
Jen Psaki: (21:40)
One day. It’s the dream right there. [crosstalk 00:21:42]
Benito Skinner: (21:43)
We’ll bring her back to the White House. I love it.
Jen Psaki: (21:45)
Yeah, she has an open invitation.
Benito Skinner: (21:47)
Okay. Perfect. [crosstalk 00:21:49].
Jen Psaki: (21:49)
Talking with you. Thank you so much for everything you do and for lifting up all these important issues.
Jen Psaki: (21:53)
Jordan Stratton: (21:55)
Hey there. How are you, Jen?
Jen Psaki: (21:56)
Great. Thanks for doing this and for taking the time. And I’m going to keep apologizing for being late. I know you guys are busy people.
Jordan Stratton: (22:03)
No sweat. No sweat. I appreciate it. Well, first off, condolences on missing out on Lady Gaga. I’m so sorry about that. [crosstalk 00:22:10]
Jen Psaki: (22:09)
I’m going to keep the dream alive. And Benito would come with [crosstalk 00:22:13] or no, it wasn’t… who just asked? I’m sorry. It wasn’t Benito. Oh, yes, it was, right. Who was excited about that, yes. [crosstalk 00:22:18] He’s coming. He’s coming.
Jordan Stratton: (22:20)
That’s right. Okay. And first off, I just want to say thank you so much for being a part of this conversation. I think it’s a really innovative approach, and I think it’s a really important conversation. So thanks so much. I’m Jordan Stratton. I’m with [thedad 00:22:32]. We’re a media brand and community of parents specifically about celebrating modern fatherhood and everything that it looks like. So obviously, this is right up our alley, talking about this American Family Plan and the Jobs Plan. And there are obviously a lot of great things in both of them, but my big question is who’s going to pay for it? Are you saving me a few hundred dollars a month, only for me to pay a few thousand dollars in taxes at the end of the year?
Jen Psaki: (22:57)
Are you a CEO of a major corporation? I don’t… You’re not.
Jordan Stratton: (23:01)
Not yet. Not yet. [crosstalk 00:23:03].
Jen Psaki: (23:02)
You may be in the future. If you are one day, I wish you luck in doing that, but then you may have to pay more in taxes. But what I will tell you [crosstalk 00:23:09] is that President’s proposed a way to pay for these proposals. His bottom line is no American making less than $400,000 a year will pay a penny more in taxes. And that’s actually why he’s been opposed to some of the proposals that have been out there, like taxing user fees or gas mileage. That would be a tax on dads and working parents and people who were just trying to make ends meet.
Jen Psaki: (23:33)
So what he’s proposed is raising the corporate rate, I should say, back to what it was in the first year of the George W. Bush administration, having individual Americans, highest income earners, the top 1%, pay a little bit more to pay for his range of proposals. He’s also proposed the IRS having the ability to make sure people are paying their taxes. That actually could raise a bunch of money. And making sure that some of these companies that paid $0 in taxes over the last few years has to pay a minimum of 15%.
Jen Psaki: (24:03)
So I bet you, you are not going to be hurt by this in any way. You’ll benefit because future kids… As a member of the dad community, you’ll be able to help tell your dad community that universal pre-K could be a real thing. Community college in the future could be a real thing. We’ll have a better road to take our kids on to preschool. So there’s a lot of benefits, and we’ve proposed ways to pay for it that won’t break the backs of working parents, dads, moms, either way.
Jen Psaki: (24:32)
I’ll also say, since you gave me opportunity, I would not be able to do this job without my husband. And he’s a dad, he’s an amazing dad. I’m getting emotional. He’s an amazing dad. I don’t know why. He’s an amazing dad. And I am so fortunate, as many working moms have, and as many working women have out there, to have a partner who does the childcare, who does the wake-up, who does the to bed stuff. And I’m hugely lucky. So a shout out to all the dads out there for doing that. It’s hugely important. And thank you.
Jordan Stratton: (25:06)
It definitely is. And it is a team effort. We just need more dads, it sounds like your husband, and fewer ones that consider watching their kids babysitting, because come on. We’re not at all about that.
Jen Psaki: (25:15)
Watching your kids is not babysitting. We can [crosstalk 00:25:19] that’s a tee shirt we can wear together. Okay, good.
Jordan Stratton: (25:22)
Thank you. So speaking of parenthood, I’m going to pivot just a little bit.
Jen Psaki: (25:25)
Jordan Stratton: (25:25)
So, kids constantly ask for expensive toys. And even when the answer is a definite no, parents often respond with a maybe, in order to avoid a nuclear meltdown in the middle of Target. But then they have to deal with the relentless followup questions. Why not now? When will it be happening, that kind of thing. And I feel like this is a relatable situation for press secretary. Any advice on how to shut that down effectively?
Jen Psaki: (25:55)
Well, I think parents could try with their kids, and we’ll see if it works. I’m not going to be able to get you that toy now. I’m happy to discuss this next week, when we have an opportunity to have this conversation again.
Jordan Stratton: (26:07)
So we should tell toddlers we can circle back. That’s what you’re saying.
Jen Psaki: (26:09)
Yeah. Some version of that. Absolutely.
Jordan Stratton: (26:11)
I like that. I’ll take that.
Jen Psaki: (26:12)
And we’ll see what’s possible. Punt it to the birthday. [crosstalk 00:26:15] That’s my shorthand advice. Something you could ask for, for your birthday.
Jordan Stratton: (26:19)
I love it. Add it to the list. That’s great.
Jen Psaki: (26:21)
Add it to the list.
Jordan Stratton: (26:21)
Thank you so much.
Jen Psaki: (26:22)
All right, Chriselle, how are you? Thanks so much for joining us and for your patience.
Chriselle Lim: (26:27)
Thank you for having me. I am so excited to be here. I’m Chriselle Lim. And first and foremost, I am a mother of two girls, a six-year-old and a two-year-old. I am the co-founder of [inaudible 00:26:38], which is re-imagining the future of family, bringing childcare solutions to the workplace so parents can continue to thrive in their careers, so they don’t have to choose one or the other.
Chriselle Lim: (26:48)
So the American Family Plan is just something that I feel so strongly about. So my very first question is the American Family Plan will guarantee 12 weeks of paid parental family and personal illness and sick leave by year 10 of the program, and then create free pre-K for children for three to four years old. Are there any plans to support working families and parents with children that are younger than three? Because there are so many working parents and moms, especially, that have to go back to work immediately.
Jen Psaki: (27:21)
Yeah, absolutely. And you’re right. This is an important piece because one, a lot of people have kids who are under the age of three and four. I have now my youngest is three, but you do. And I know many people who follow you and pay close attention to what you have to say, as well do as well.
Jen Psaki: (27:38)
The American Family Plan proposes $225 billion to make childcare more affordable. And the way that we’re approaching that is to ensure that families that are making just 1.5% over the state median income range will only have to pay 7%. The max, I should say, of 7% in order to have affordable high- quality childcare. Because we know if we’re going to get more women back in the workforce, if we’re going to make sure we have a more diverse workforce, if we’re going to make it possible for a lot of families to engage in the workforce, we need to make childcare accessible and affordable.
Jen Psaki: (28:14)
So, that’s a piece of the proposal I’m really excited about. It also extends the child tax credit by five years, which is something that will give a working families and parents a little extra money in their pockets and hopefully help make ends meet as well.
Chriselle Lim: (28:29)
That’s incredible. I think working parents need the support more than ever, coming out of COVID. So this is really, really exciting for myself and the community. And a personal question I have for you [crosstalk 00:28:39] as a mother of two and serving as a White House, press secretary, I’m sure you come across a lot of challenges. How do you face holding such a prominent position while balancing the demands of motherhood?
Jen Psaki: (28:55)
Well, thank you for that question and thank you for what you do as a role model, as a working mom with two little kids, and you know it’s a balance. Some days it’s messy. The sausage making is a little messy behind the scenes.
Jen Psaki: (29:07)
What I will say is that my kids have made me better at what I do. They’re grounding. They bring me down to earth. They have no idea what I do at the White House every day, nor do they care. And they’re a reminder of what’s important. And some days, that is the most valuable, best thing that happens in my day. My three-year-old son calls himself the hug machine. I don’t know if he’ll do this forever, but a hug from him, which he has a lot of pride in, it makes any stressful day go away. And so, that’s first and foremost.
Jen Psaki: (29:41)
But I also will say what I’ve learned over time, and you’ve probably learned, is not to be too hard on yourself. Some days are imperfect. Some days I forget to buy a birthday present for the birthday party. Some days I forget to send the permission slip or to make sure we have a babysitter for the weekend or whatever it may be. Sometimes my kids eat Cheetos. It’s okay. And I try not to be too-
Jen Psaki: (30:03)
Kids eat Cheetos. It’s okay. And I try not to be too hard on myself or harsh on myself and just stay grounded in what’s important, which is probably those hugs from the hug machine.
Chriselle Lim: (30:12)
I love that. My kids had McDonald’s for dinner last night.
Jen Psaki: (30:15)
It’s okay. And you know what? They got up this morning and they’re probably absolutely fine. So there you go. Be gentle on yourself.
Chriselle Lim: (30:22)
Jen Psaki: (30:23)
Great talking with you. Okay. Brittany. Hi, Brittany. How are you doing?
Brittany Xavier: (30:28)
Hi. Thank you for having this conversation with us today. This is really exciting. I am a digital content creator. I’m also a mom to a 14 year old, and I am currently pregnant, expecting one.
Jen Psaki: (30:41)
Congratulations. You look amazing.
Brittany Xavier: (30:44)
Oh, thank you.
Jen Psaki: (30:44)
Brittany Xavier: (30:47)
So I wanted to ask you an issue that became especially apparent during the pandemic is just how many children rely on daily meals provided from the public schools? And I wanted to ask, how will the AFP help families who are worried about making sure their kids get enough to eat when school is out in the summer and during holiday breaks?
Jen Psaki: (31:07)
This is such an important question, and one I will say, on a personal level, breaks my heart. I live in a suburb of DC and there are still many, many people who don’t have enough food to put on the table. And you wouldn’t think of that necessarily of the community I live in. I will tell you that one of the first things we did in passing the American Rescue Plan is we sent out checks to tens of millions of Americans. And what we saw the impact of just that alone is we’re going to cut child poverty in half by the end of the year. That will have a huge impact. But we need to do more than that, and one of the things we’ve proposed in the American Families Plan… And so there’s more that’s actually going out in terms of a debit cards to families and kids around the country that will go out over the summer.
Jen Psaki: (31:52)
Because as you know from talking about this issue, one of the challenges is also, as you said, when kids are not in school and they don’t have those free meals and free lunches. So debit cards are going to be going out, thanks to some of the plans we’ve already passed, to kids this summer. But the American Families Plan also proposes additional funding to ensure that we’re helping these kids get those meals, ensure families can make ends meet, and ensure that the nutritional value that they get from these benefits from schools is fully funded in the schools, but they’re also getting that additional benefit in the summer. So this is a really important issue. I’m really grateful to you for elevating it, because I think we don’t talk about it enough and the impact of poverty on childhood nutrition and kids getting access to basic meals. And it’s something that’s front and center to the Family’s Plan and something we’ve already worked to pass funding for, so we can ensure we’re helping kids make ends meet even in the upcoming months while we’re trying to pass that legislation into law.
Brittany Xavier: (32:53)
Amazing. Thank you so much.
Jen Psaki: (32:54)
Thank you, Brittany. It was really a pleasure talking to you, and congratulations again.
Brittany Xavier: (32:57)
Oh, thank you.
Jen Psaki: (32:58)
All right, Clea and Joanna you’re so patient. You do amazing work. I want you to come to my house. Everyone does. I don’t even know. Thank you for being here and for everything you do.
Joanna Teplin: (33:10)
Oh, we are so grateful, Jen. Thank you so much for having us. And we are obviously working moms and we both have two kids each, and we just want to say thank you to all the teachers.
Clea Shearer: (33:20)
We could not have the business that we have if it wasn’t for teachers. So we currently could not make anything work without them. And much like our new friend, Benito, we had a very similar question about how the American Families Plan helps support teachers, specifically maybe around mentorship or anything else you can maybe elaborate on. Again, very near and dear to our hearts.
Jen Psaki: (33:43)
Absolutely. I could not agree with you more. I think all of us, probably you guys too, have an even greater value for teachers after living through the last year and a half and the role they play and what they’ve done to teach remotely during the pandemic and make it safe to return to schools. And I even think, my daughter’s going to kindergarten, God bless these teachers who are going to be welcoming kindergartners and who haven’t really been around kids. So I’m going to be forever grateful to teachers. What’s interesting, and I’ve learned a lot about this too given the impact on schools of the pandemic, is that even before the pandemic, schools needed an estimated 100,000 additional certified teachers. It’s an area there’s a huge shortage of around the country, and a huge shortage of diversity among teachers as well, which has a huge impact on kids and their futures. Benito, I think, goes up by Benny. I’m not sure. We’re going to have to ask him. His question, we are proposing to invest $9 billion in teachers. And some of that is paying for certification, paying for schooling, paying for recruitment, paying for supplies. My mother-in-law’s a teacher. I’ve watched her. She’s retired now, so she’s been able to help my daughter, which is amazing. But I’ve watched her over the years, grading papers till midnight, getting supplies. We see so many teachers who aren’t paid nearly enough, doing this out of their own pockets. That shouldn’t be the case. But we also need to recruit more teachers and make sure school systems can pay for that. So that’s part of what we’ve proposed. Unsung heroes, all heroes don’t wear capes, and teachers are certainly examples.
Joanna Teplin: (35:17)
They should wear capes every day.
Jen Psaki: (35:19)
They should. Who doesn’t want to wear a cape? I want to wear a cape.
Clea Shearer: (35:23)
Joanna Teplin: (35:23)
I would too.
Jen Psaki: (35:24)
Yeah. Bring back capes.
Clea Shearer: (35:27)
[inaudible 00:35:27] Amanda Gorman’s. You look fabulous.
Jen Psaki: (35:29)
I don’t know that everyone can pull off Amanda Gorman’s amazing style, but yes.
Clea Shearer: (35:32)
I know. Don’t even get me started. If I could pivot just a little bit, we had the just unbelievable good fortune to interview former President Barack Obama.
Jen Psaki: (35:41)
Clea Shearer: (35:44)
Joanna Teplin: (35:44)
No we don’t. We’ll never get over it our whole life, but yeah.
Clea Shearer: (35:47)
So we did a rapid fire with him and I want to see if the rapid fire with you could be a possibility.
Jen Psaki: (35:53)
Great. Sure. Let’s do it right.
Clea Shearer: (35:55)
All right. It’s very hard hitting.
Jen Psaki: (35:56)
Okay. I’m ready.
Clea Shearer: (35:58)
Candy or champagne.
Jen Psaki: (36:00)
It depends on the time of day. I would say candy for the majority of the day. I am like Elf. I would eat candy for every meal, if that were an option. I’m an adult, I could, but it wouldn’t be very healthy.
Joanna Teplin: (36:11)
Jen Psaki: (36:12)
I’m with you. I’m a candy spirit animal.
Joanna Teplin: (36:15)
I see you, Jen. All right. Digital or paper.
Jen Psaki: (36:19)
Primarily digital, even books. But I have a little old school illness to me and I still subscribe to the Sunday New York Times, which when I see it on my driveway, I get excited. And I like older books too. I’m a little of both.
Clea Shearer: (36:33)
All right. Next one, queso or guac.
Jen Psaki: (36:39)
Joanna Teplin: (36:39)
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Same thing. Yeah, yeah, yeah. [inaudible 00:36:44].
Jen Psaki: (36:44)
Oh. Uh oh, this is a key rapid fire question.
Joanna Teplin: (36:50)
[inaudible 00:36:50] it could make headlines. Who’s more organized, POTUS or FLOTUS?
Jen Psaki: (36:56)
FLOTUS. I don’t know why I whispered it. She is a teacher. Of course she’s more organized. I think if the President were sitting here, he would also acknowledge that. I have not done a rapid fire analysis of their organization line by line. And the President obviously is pretty organized, given he’s the president, but she’s on it. She’s a teacher. I would follow her organizational methods.
Clea Shearer: (37:24)
Yeah, we see you. Well, thank you so much for this incredible opportunity.
Jen Psaki: (37:27)
Thank you. It was great talking to you. Thanks for everything we do.
Clea Shearer: (37:30)
Jen Psaki: (37:31)
Well, thank you all so much for joining me, and thanks for everything you do to elevate so many important issues to your audiences. And hopefully we’ll do this again, maybe at the White House. We’ll have to bring you guys all here sometime. Thank you so much.