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Bigger Role For Government Doesn't Mean It's 'In Your Business,' Says Biden Aide

President Biden proposed expanding the role of government in universal pre-K and free community college.
Melina Mara
President Biden proposed expanding the role of government in universal pre-K and free community college.

Republicans have attacked President Biden's new plan to invest trillions of dollars into education and the economy as government intruding too much into the lives of Americans, but the White House says that critique is misleading.

Addressing a joint session of Congress Wednesday night, Biden unveiled a new $1.8 trillion dollar proposal that would, among other things, provide two years of free community college as well as universal preschool. He also made the case for his $2 trillion jobs plan to invest in infrastructure and retool the economy.

Republican Sen. Tim Scott, who gave his party's response to Biden's address, panned the idea as government overreach, saying Biden "wants to put Washington even more in the middle of your life from the cradle to college."

Speaking on NPR's Morning Edition, Biden's top domestic policy aide Susan Rice defended the proposal.

"To say we're getting the government in your business from cradle to college is misleading, anymore than it is to say that public education from K through 12 gets government in your business," Rice said.

Rice said it's no longer enough to have K through 12 education, and that two years of preschool and two years of college would help kids and the economy. "We're simply talking about building two years on either end of that system," she said.

Rice said "we do think the government has an important role to play in supporting research and development, in supporting job creation, in helping us transform into an economy that beats climate change, that creates thousands and millions of new jobs."

"So yes," Rice said, "there is a role for government."

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NPR News' Brian Naylor is a correspondent on the Washington Desk. In this role, he covers politics and federal agencies.
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