President Biden is seeking to pass a transportation infrastructure spending plan, called the American Jobs Plan, costing $2 trillion in order to fix or rebuild the nation’s aging roads, bridges, railroads, airports and other transportation issues. While this normally enjoys bipartisan support, Republicans have not signaled they would support this measure as only $621 billion of the money goes directly to transportation. The rest goes to everything from electric car charging networks, building affordable homes, removing lead from water systems nationwide, upgrade child care facilities, new investments in clean energy, increasing the pay for those who do care work for disabled and elderly people, strengthen the nation’s supply chain and increasing production of semiconductors. Biden’s plans to pay for all this with a tax increase on corporations and closing corporate loopholes, claiming they will fully pay for this in 15 years, and afterwards it will become revenue positive making it possible to begin paying off America’s debt.
This $2 trillion spending plan is the first part of President Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda, with another part coming later that will include healthcare, education and child care. This comes after Biden won his first major policy, the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill known as the American Rescue Plan. As part of Biden’s plan to pay for this, the corporate tax rate that was reduced under President Trump would be restored to 28% and changing the way the U.S. taxes multination corporations with a 21% minimum tax. Biden will be formally revealing the plan today at an event in Pittsburgh.
WHAT’S IN THE PLAN?
$621 billion of the American Jobs Plan would go towards fixing and repairing roads, bridges, transit and rail services. This includes more than 20,000 miles of roads, fixing the most “economically significant” bridges such as those in areas of the country where significant economic activity utilizes those bridges. Examples of this include the Brooklyn Bridge, The Bridge over the Mississippi River along Interstate 10, The Golden Gate Bridge and the I-610 bridge over the Houston Ship Channel. It would also fix 10,000 smaller bridges rated in poor condition by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The ASCE has rated the nation’s transportation infrastructure as a D, with one-third of the nation’s bridges being “structurally deficient” according to the ASCE.
$213 billion would pay for affordable homes. Seeking to address the shortage of affordable homes in large expensive metro areas, Biden is hoping to add homes that average Americans can afford.
$111 billion is dedicated to removing all lead pipes in local water supply systems, wastewater systems and stormwater systems along with upgrading drinking water systems.
$100 billion is dedicated to upgrading out-dated and older schools and to build new public schools to address the shortage of schools in many states.
$100 billion would be spent on universal high-speed broadband infrastructure so that everyone in American can have high-speed internet at home. The majority of people without high-seed internet at home live in rural areas where telecommunication and internet companies say the cost to build out high speed networks outweighs what they can earn, thus forcing them to take a loss if they were to build it.
$100 billion would go towards upgrading the nation’s electric grid, but not Texas’, because the Texas grid is not under federal control. A portion of this will go towards making the grid harder to take down while some money will go towards clean electricity generation such as wind and solar.
$18 billion would go to modernizing Veterans Affairs hospitals and another $25 billion towards child care facilities.
One important thing missing from the plan is how the money would be doled out and how a decision is made to give money to one thing or another. Republican strategist Mike Arai said “I applaud the desire to fix America’s aging infrastructure, but I oppose a $2 trillion plan where the majority of the money isn’t even going towards fixing roads, bridges, train and transit systems and airports, but instead is going towards pet projects, and way out of scope issues.”
The White House said Biden’s plan will help America compete against rival China which spends far more on infrastructure and help Americans by creating jobs for Americans who are hard pressed to pay their bills right now. National infrastructure development is usually directly linked to a nation’s overall economic output ability and strength on the world stage. Biden has not yet indicated how he intends to pass his plan through Congress. While the House has enough Democrats to pass the bill under House rules, the Senate does not since it is evenly split 50-50.
“There are two possible ways to get this passed in the Senate,” says Jamal King, “either eliminate portions that Republicans just won’t budge on and negotiate on other areas the Republicans are willing which will significantly shrink the cost of this plan or to simply pass this under the budget reconciliation process without any Republican support just like Biden’s Covid relief plan did, it’s not pretty, but that’s what happens when you muddle things together that should be separate issues.”