President Biden traveled to Pittsburgh on Wednesday to unveil a $ 2.25 trillion infrastructure plan that is the federal government’s most ambitious attempt in terms of both scope and cost to improve the country’s economy and social fabric since at least Lyndon Redesigning Johnson’s Great Society program 1960s.
As with many of his recent proposals, Biden has cited the infrastructure plan as one of the superpowers looking to regain a foothold, arguing that the investment outlined by the White House will cost $ 115 billion to repair roads, $ 100 billion for that High speed internet and many others amount to modernization initiatives – would “enable us to win global competition with China for years to come”.
In his remarks, Biden noted that the United States ranks 13th in the world for the quality of its infrastructure. “Our opponents are concerned that we are building this critical infrastructure,” said the president, comparing his plan to the creation of the highway system under Dwight Eisenhower and the space race with the Soviet Union that John F. Kennedy promised to win.
Biden’s ambitions are arguably broader, however, as the infrastructure plan seeks to address both carbon-based fuel reliance and persistent racial inequalities in housing, transportation and other sectors. His prospect of the massive proposal passed could be bolstered by a sense of urgency stemming from a pandemic that has exposed deep structural flaws in American society. The protests against racial justice last summer, as well as the increasing frequency of catastrophic weather events, made the Democrats’ argument that mending bridges is not enough even more urgent.
President Biden will address infrastructure in Pittsburgh on Wednesday. (Evan Vucci / AP)
Not that bridge mending is missing from the plan: Biden says his plan will repair 10,000 bridges and 20,000 miles of pavement. His promise to free traffic could prove to be more ambitious than Kennedy’s attempt to put humans on the moon (that is, if traffic ever returns to pre-pandemic levels, as is widely expected).
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It was also significant that Biden made his remarks in Pittsburgh, a former steel industry redoubt that has diversified its economy in recent years to include engineering jobs. Hailing from Scranton on the opposite side of Pennsylvania, Biden brought up the famous legacy of organized labor in the state. “It’s time they started getting some of the action,” Biden said of unions that could prove crucial in selling the plan. (Pennsylvania is also a state that is vital to Biden’s prospects for re-election.)
Biden has courted comparisons to Johnson and Franklin D. Roosevelt, both of whom have encountered difficult moments in American history with unbridled ambitions. Like them, Biden will face vigorous opposition in Congress as well as some level of public skepticism. For example, critics have wondered why the infrastructure plan included $ 400 billion for “expanding access to quality, affordable home or community care for aging relatives and people with disabilities.”
Funding for charging stations for electric vehicles, the replacement of lead pipes and the modernization of homes and schools met with similar suspicions from the right. At a Fox Business appearance on Tuesday, Senator John Barrasso, R-Wy., Described the plan as a “Trojan horse” for “more liberal spending and much higher taxes” and previewed what will emerge as the central argument of the Republican establishment .
“They want to do all sorts of social things,” Barrasso said of Biden and Congressional Democrats.
Close-up of the electric vehicle charging station sign on Santana Row in Silicon Valley, San Jose, California, Jan. 3, 2020. (Smith Collection / Gado / Getty Images)
Biden doesn’t have much hope of convincing Barrasso to vote for the package known as the American Jobs Plan. But he has to make sure that Barrasso does not convince centrist Senators Joe Manchin, DW.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., To also oppose the upcoming bill. With this in mind, Biden recently appointed Manchin’s wife to a committee on the future of Appalachia.
Much like Johnson, Biden joins the Oval Office after serving on Capitol Hill, and if he’s never been as influential or frightened as the legendary “Senate Master,” he still understands it much better than either of his direct two Predecessors did the often inappropriate business of converting a presidential proposal into a bill and then converting this bill into a law.
Biden intends to pay for the infrastructure plan by increasing the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent. The Conservative Tax Foundation has argued that such a tax hike “would hurt American competitiveness and slow our economic recovery.” The spending on the infrastructure plan is expected to last eight years, while the tax increases required for this plan will last for 15 years.
Some progressives have said that the infrastructure plan should be more ambitious; For one, MP Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said the plan should have been “much bigger”. The infrastructure plan has a second component, the American Families Plan, which will include more social programs and the details of which should become clear sometime in April or May. This second phase also requires a second tax hike aimed at high income individuals.
Overall, the Democrats are delighted with the speed and scope of Biden’s plans. In her statement on the plan, MP Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., The chair of the influential House Appropriations Committee, referred to Infrastructure Week, which became a kind of joke during the Trump administration about the futility of actually addressing the nation’s infrastructure problems .
“We can’t just go back to normal,” said DeLauro Biden’s “relentless focus on green energy.”
President Joe Biden speaks about his $ 2 trillion infrastructure plan during an event to promote the plan at Carpenters Pittsburgh Training Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, March 31, 2021. (Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)
Biden’s first major legislative initiative was the American Rescue Plan, a coronavirus relief package that is clearly popular with the American public. While no Congressional Republicans supported the move, they did not offer the opposition President Obama faced in introducing the Affordable Care Act in 2009.
It will now be up to the Democratic leaders in Congress to work out a bill that follows the outline of the White House, while satisfying centrists and progressives, and denying Republicans simple lines of attack, as Barrasso and others have already made. While these attacks may be predictable, they could prove effective in a highly polarized nation, let alone a Washington that leaves little room for political error.
Senate Minority Chairman Mitch McConnell has also called the Infrastructure Act a “Trojan horse” for progressive politics. And that was after speaking on Tuesday with Biden, one of the few the former Senate opponents had in the past two months.
Biden believes his plan is both democratic and democratic. He has often approached the presidency much like a local politician, focusing on policies that, although to some extent ideological, he has sold as sensible services to his millions of voters.
Speaking on Tuesday, Biden said it was important to show the world that “democracies still deliver for their people,” as opposed to the presumably unproductive arguments that have shaped Washington in the recent past.
“I think we can,” said Biden. “I think we have to.”
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