By: Victoria Dozer
Biden has recently proposed a $2 trillion infrastructure plan, also titled “The American Jobs Plan'', aimed at rebuilding American infrastructure in the wake of COVID-19. The plan details funding for both traditional building projects, as well as social infrastructure, and will supposedly create much-needed jobs amid the pandemic. Both President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are expected to travel across the country and meet with citizens at a regional level to discuss the implementation of the infrastructure plan in their communities. Members of the “Jobs Cabinet” in Biden’s White House have already begun making media appearances, voicing their support of the plan. While most Democrats are optimistic about Biden’s plan, Republicans have been voicing concerns about funding and intention.
According to a New York Times breakdown of the plan’s funding, “The American Jobs Plan” allocates over $2 trillion to transportation, buildings and utilities, jobs and innovation, and in-home care and schooling across the country.
Over $600 billion dollars is allocated to transportation, mostly going towards “electric vehicle incentives”. But, the plan also finances road and bridge repairs, new forms of public transportation, and disaster relief. The goal of this funding is to restore outdated and “crumbling” means of transportation, as well as overhaul roads and create a network of vehicle charging stations by 2030. Through its support of electric vehicles, the plan also aims to move the American people away from reliance on fossil fuels. In this way, the proposal also addresses climate concerns, which some Republicans have deemed inappropriate for an infrastructure bill.
When it comes to updating buildings and utilities, Biden plans to utilize over $200 billion just for construction of affordable housing. He also plans to modernize electrical grids and ensure high-speed networks for workers across the US. The plan intends to invest in clean energy and updated water systems, eliminating lead piping altogether. By updating utilities and ensuring network connectivity, the proposal addresses some of the main concerns of working families during the pandemic. For those who were forced to work from home amid COVID-19 concerns, second-rate WiFi and poor utilities made at-home productivity nearly impossible. By investing in broadband networks and low-carbon electricity, as well as non-hazardous utilities, families can comfortably work and live at home full-time.
The infrastructure plan also highlights America’s position on the global stage. Biden’s proposal aims to heighten the U.S.’s commercial standing, allowing the country to compete with China and other global powers economically. The infrastructure plan allocates over $500 billion to manufacturing efforts, as well as worker training and scientific research. The National Science Foundation alone receives $50 billion. Money has also been set aside for the semiconductor industry and clean energy manufacturing. Addressing racial inequities, the plan also sets aside funding for research at H.B.C.U.s (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) and infrastructure in “underserved communities”.
Funding for in-home care and education further addresses the stressors of the pandemic. Over $400 billion is included to expand elder care and childcare, as well as programs for individuals with disabilities. This part of the plan aims to increase the pay and benefits of caregivers -- specifically mothers -- affected by the pandemic. Additionally, $100 billion is allocated for public schools, updating their utilities and equipping them for operation during a health crisis (like a pandemic). Funding is also to be utilized for community colleges and veterans hospitals. By allocating funds for these sorts of programs, Biden intends to redefine “infrastructure” to include social projects.
Specifically, this portion of the proposal targets the struggles of suburban women, who have been particularly disadvantaged during the course of COVID-19. As offices and childcare centers closed, working and middle class women were driven out of the workforce. These women returned home in order to provide wages, child/elder care, or both for their families -- all amid one of the worst global crises in the last century. However, as some critics have pointed out, these female populations also provide a strong voting base for Democrats like Biden.
Where is the Funding is Coming From?
In order to provide funding for “The American Jobs Plan”, Biden proposed an increase in corporate taxes. After the Trump administration rolled out tax cuts in 2017, corporate taxes dropped to 21%. Biden intends to tax corporations at 28%.
Though the corporate tax rates easily surpassed 30% for most of Obama’s presidency, many Republicans are vehemently opposed to this proposition.
Critiques and Concerns
Republicans have expressed concerns about the corporate tax rates in terms of associated job losses. In a House Ways and Means committee meeting, Republicans assessed that increasing corporate tax rates could result in 159,000 lost jobs over the next 10-30 years, as well as 0.7% total decrease in wages. It is possible that such a tax on corporations could force companies to lay off employees or cut wages. But Biden’s infrastructure plan would actually create more jobs in the long run. S&P Global projected that Biden’s plan could create 2.3 million jobs just in the first couple years. And, as the projects created by Biden’s infrastructure funding dwindled, the net job increase would be 713,000 jobs by 2029. The whole plan seems to be geared towards job creation, and would most likely lose Democrat support without it.
Republicans have also worried that the $2 trillion in funding would not actually go towards infrastructure, but other Democratic agendas. The GOP claimed that only 7% of the bill’s funding would be used for infrastructure projects. However, this number depends on how you define “infrastructure”. Republicans argue that only the highway and road repairs, airports upgrades, and construction of ports and waterways should count; however, Democrats disagree. They believe that Amtrak funding, modernization of public transit, and investment in public schools and housing should also be funded under the infrastructure plan. For Biden and other Democrats, social infrastructure is still infrastructure.
Some Republicans think a distinction should be made. Senator Roy Blunt (MO) spoke out on the plan on “Fox News Sunday”, claiming that Biden could still win Republican support. However, this support would only come if Biden isolated the parts of the bill considered to be “traditional infrastructure”. The other parts -- addressing social issues, climate change, etc. --would be less likely to win over conservatives.
Still, Biden continues to push funding for both social and traditional infrastructure. His plan has won some vague support from Corporate America, including an “ok” from CEOs like Jeff Bezos, as well as the endorsement of many fellow Democratic politicians. For now, Biden and his administration seem determined to rebuild America’s infrastructure after the devastating effects of COVID-19 through “The American Jobs Plan”, with or without GOP support.