WASHINGTON, D.C. — The White House hosted a “Maryland summit” on Wednesday for elected officials from around the state, touting the Biden administration’s pandemic “rescue plan” and its efforts to help the state improve roads, bridges and transit systems.
The half-day forum — part pep rally and part information session — was part of a messaging strategy in which the White House has been inviting leaders from a number of states to share the economic impacts of the American Rescue Plan, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and other legislation initiated by the Democratic president.
Democrats fared better than expected in last week’s midterm elections even after Republican candidates hammered President Joe Biden over rising prices and other economic concerns. Some Republicans blamed the president’s pandemic stimulus package last year for fanning inflation.
Gene Sperling, the American Rescue Plan’s coordinator, told a dozen Maryland elected officials — including Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. — on Wednesday that Americans are seeing “good things happening” such as falling unemployment rates.
“They see those things but they don’t always connect them to the American Rescue Plan, and I think it’s important that they do,” Sperling said. “It’s not just about, or even primarily about, political credit. It is about making sure that the next time this happens, people remember this model.”
The pandemic stimulus plan expanded child tax and Earned Income Tax Credits, sent many Americans direct payments, extended a weekly unemployment supplemental benefit and provided new support for restaurants and other small business.
Republicans, who broadly opposed the measure, say the increased government spending drove up inflation.
Olszewski joined other elected leaders — including mayors from Salisbury, Hagerstown, Bowie, Gaithersburg, Brentwood and District Heights — for the forum in the ornate Indian Treaty Room of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, part of the White House complex.
“We’ve been lucky to have his support in Maryland and Baltimore County,” Olszewski said after the meeting, referring to Biden, who was attending the G20 Summit in Indonesia on Wednesday.
Inflation remains a concern, and “we heard it loud and clear from the administration that they are sensitive to it,” Olszewski said.
“We’re seeing the fed take action, we’re seeing gas prices start to come down. It’s something we’re all trying to tackle,” he said.