By Allison Markman
New York City, New York
On March 31, President Joe Biden introduced his second major piece of legislation, a $2 trillion infrastructure package. Though the United States is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, many agree that there has been little investment in infrastructure since World War II. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave America's infrastructure a C- score in 2021. Biden’s package aims to fund forms of infrastructure such as bridges and roads, and it includes steps to address climate change and inequality throughout the country.
His plan consists of four main parts: 1) investment in transportation such as roads and public transit, 2) investment in affordable housing, universal broadband and clean drinking water, 3) investment in care infrastructure aimed at helping the elderly, the people who care for them and those with disabilities and 4) investments in research and development, job training and clean energy.
The first part of his plan addresses the modernization of highways and public transportation systems. The bill proposes $115 billion to go to highways, bridges and roads and another $85 billion to go to public transportation. This number is almost double what is currently spent on the industry. The plan proposes that $174 billion to private companies to work with state and local governments on the construction of 500,000 electric vehicle chargers. The plan’s intention is to address the growing threat of climate change by beginning to convert vehicles to majority electric. The bill also includes $20 billion to address “historical inequities” by focusing on amending injustices through reconnecting neighborhoods that have suffered at the hands of the U.S. government and administrations.
The second part of Biden’s plan invests in infrastructure that would provide clean drinking water, broadband and electricity. Biden is calling upon Congress to invest $45 billion in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and in Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN). This would ensure that all lead pipes are replaced, reducing lead exposure in 400,000 schools and childcare centers. The president also plans to modernize drinking water, wastewater and stormwater systems; tackle new contaminants and support clean water infrastructure in rural areas. He plans to do this by providing $56 billion in grants to these areas to address and invest in water systems. His bill also includes an $100 billion investment that would expand broadband to 100 percent coverage, reducing the cost of broadband internet services. He also plans to invest another $100 billion in modernizing the power grid, creating good jobs with opportunities to unionize. To achieve this goal, the bill proposes a ten-year extension and phase-down of an extended direct-pay investment tax credit and production tax credit for renewable energy generation and storage. The plan also works towards establishing energy standards aimed at lowering electricity bills and emissions, increasing market competitiveness, incentivizing more productive usage of existing infrastructure and continuing to leverage carbon-free energy generated by existing sources such as nuclear and hydropower.
The third part of the American Jobs Plan develops, retrofits and restores homes, commercial buildings and schools. To address the lack of affordable housing, the plan includes $213 billion to build, preserve and retrofit sustainable and affordable housing. Specifically, the investment will go towards the construction of at least one million accessible and efficient housing units, the construction and updating of 500,000 homes for lower and middle class and the elimination of exclusionary zoning laws. He proposes another $100 billion to build and update public schools and $12 billion to invest in community colleges. He also proposes an investment of $18 billion to upgrade veterans hospitals and $10 billion to upgrade federal buildings with low carbon material. The last part of this section of the bill focuses on child care centers. Biden proposes $25 billion to upgrade and increase the amount of childcare facilities in the areas that need it the most.
The final part of the plan focuses on strengthening the infrastructure of the care economy as well as research and development. Biden wants Congress to make significant improvements in the health-care system He is directly demanding that Congress devote $400 billion to improving access to high-quality, low-cost homes, as well as community based services for older citizens and individuals with disabilities. This will give Americans much needed long term care services, as well as give a raise to caregivers. Biden wants to invest in research and development for job training and climate change. He proposes an $180 billion investment that will advance U.S. leadership in new technologies such as artificial intelligence and climate innovation. He also plans to eliminate the racial and gender inequities in scientific research by investing $10 billion in HBCUs. Lastly, Biden proposes a $300 billion investment to strengthen manufacturing supply chains to critical goods, protect Americans from future pandemics and jumpstart clean energy manufacturing.
To fund the plan, Biden proposes a reform to the corporate tax code raising the rate to 28 percent. In addition, the bill includes an increase to the minimum tax on U.S. corporations to 21 percent. The fossil fuel sector receives billions of dollars in subsidies, deductions and additional overseas tax credits under the current tax code. All of these special preferences will be removed as part of the president's pledge to place the nation on a path to net-zero pollution by 2050.
The bill is one of the most expensive and sweeping pieces of legislation to tackle the country's infrastructure. If passed, it has the opportunity to revolutionize many systems that the American people rely on daily, as well as put the U.S. on a path toward green energy and lowering carbon emissions. The bill will create approximately 19 million jobs for Americans. In a narrowly divided Senate, many believe it is unlikely that the plan will pass with bipartisan support; however many also believe it is likely that Biden will use budget reconciliation to get this bill passed into law.