One of Donald Trump’s star plans when he became president in 2016 was to overhaul the nation’s infrastructure. It was a massive project, never materialized, which required the support of the senators most reluctant to raise the federal spending ceiling and which promised to invest billions in repairing an extremely aging network. It came to nothing and now it is the turn of his successor, Joe Biden, to bet on a $2 trillion-plus package that includes major long-term investments.
The goal is to “revitalize” manufacturing jobs and compete more directly with China. Of course, to get it through, it will require major agreements in the legislative chambers, the result of a negotiation that in principle could be expected to be a bumpy ride. To finance it, the White House expects to increase taxes on large corporations and wealthy individuals, proposing a time frame that far exceeds the eight years during which Biden could serve as president, assuming he revalidates his victory in 2024.
In a memorandum advanced by the White House, the Government explains that “domestic public investment has fallen by more than 40% since the 1960s” and warns that the American Jobs Plan, the name by which it has been baptized, will allocate investments that have not been seen since the construction of the “interstate highways” and the “Space Race”. He recalls that the world’s richest country ranks “13th in overall infrastructure quality” after “decades of disinvestment.” “Our roads, bridges and water systems are crumbling,” he adds, “Our power grid is vulnerable to catastrophic outages. Too many people lack access to affordable high-speed internet and quality housing.”
Among the economic injections are, of course, the more traditional ones, aimed at improving or repairing the highway and road network, more than 380,000 kilometers, the rail network, bridges, ports and airports, to which hundreds of billions will be allocated. No less than 160 billion dollars will be allocated to strengthen public transportation. The White House is also committed to consolidating the change in the energy paradigm, betting on energies that will gradually make the country less dependent on fossil fuels. Between discounts for the purchase of electric cars and investments to make them truly operational, the government would spend another 180 billion. But the president also expects his plan to far exceed the traditional margins, with massive spending on boosting and improving the education system, with large investments in geriatric care and healthcare.
“The past year,” the paper explains, “has led to job losses and threatened economic security, eroding more than 30 years of progress in women’s labor force participation. It has unmasked the fragility of our care infrastructure. And our nation is falling behind its largest competitors in research and development (R&D), manufacturing and training. It has never been more important for us to invest in strengthening our infrastructure and competitiveness, and in creating the good-paying jobs of the future.”