Tags: infrastructure

Biden Formally Unveils $2T Infrastructure Plan That's Already Under Fire

Biden Formally Unveils $2T Infrastructure Plan That's Already Under Fire

Wednesday, 31 March 2021 05:33 PM

President Joe Biden unveiled a $2 trillion spending plan of so-called infrastructure improvements paid for by an accompanying hike in corporate taxes, touting it as a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity only weeks after Democrats passed another nearly $2 trillion worth of spending on what it said was for mitigation of the coronavirus outbreak.

But even before his formal remarks on the new plan, it was already being assailed by critics on both sides of the aisle as well as some business leaders. Those critics took issue with everything to the plan's scope to how it would be funded and whether it would deliver job and economic growth as promised.

The first phase of Biden's "Build Back Better" program, which he set out in a speech in Pittsburgh, details extensive investment spread over eight years.

Putting infrastructure at the centerpiece of the president's economic agenda, it calls for the injection of $620 billion into transport, including upgrading 20,000 miles (32,000 kilometers) of roads, repairing thousands of bridges and doubling funding for public transport.

"Today I'm proposing a plan for the nation that rewards work, not just rewards wealth. It builds a fair economy that gives everybody a chance to succeed. It's going to create the strongest, most resilient, innovative economy in the world," Biden said.

"It's a once-in-a-generation investment in America, unlike anything we've seen or done since we built the interstate highway system and the space race decades ago."

The cost would be partly covered by raising corporate tax from 21 percent to 28 percent.

The new spending offensive comes soon after the United States passed a nearly $2 trillion COVID-19 economic stimulus plan.

And Biden's speech fired the starting gun on what is expected to be a bitter battle in Congress, where the Democrats hold only a narrow majority and will face strong opposition from Republicans.

The president touted his plan as the "largest American jobs investment since World War II," declaring that it would cement the country's position at the top of the global economy.

"It will create millions of jobs, good-paying jobs. It will grow the economy, make us more competitive around the world, promote our national security interests and put us in a position to win the global competition with China in the upcoming years," he said.

The first criticisms came before Biden even gave his speech, some of it from the progressive wing of his own party.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said the package "needs to be way bigger."

From the opposite corner, Biden's Republican predecessor Donald Trump said the tax hike would "decimate U.S. manufacturing" and described the proposed legislation as "among the largest self-inflicted economic wounds in history."

- 'Clean energy future' -

The plan also vows to "spark the electric vehicle revolution" by building a network of 500,000 EV chargers, replacing 50,000 diesel transit vehicles and accelerating the transition to a greener economy that makes infrastructure more resilient to climate change.

"The American Jobs Plan will lead to transformational progress in order to tackle climate change... by making our infrastructure more secure and resilient and seizing incredible opportunities for American workers and American farmers in a clean energy future," Biden said.

With much of the country's infrastructure dating back to the 1950s, the dream of new roads, bridges, railways and airports is shared by many Americans.

But building a political consensus to transform Biden's plan into reality is no easy task. Both Barack Obama and Trump made little progress despite promises to tackle the issue.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce backed the infrastructure push, but said Biden's proposal was "dangerously misguided" over how to fund it.

Biden said an increase to 28 percent in corporation tax would still leave the rate lower than it was for almost 70 years between World War II and 2017.

© AFP 2021

President Joe Biden on Wednesday unveiled a $2 trillion infrastructure plan he said was aimed at modernizing America's crumbling transport network, creating millions of jobs and delivering a "once-in-a-generation" investment enabling the United States to best China on the...
Wednesday, 31 March 2021 05:33 PM
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