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This piece was originally published in the April 1, 2021 edition of CAP Action’s newsletter, the Progress Report. Subscribe to the Progress Report here.
“We intend to deliver.”
— White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain
It’s time for America to get serious about rebuilding and modernizing our infrastructure.
IN THE NEWS
- Jobs, infrastructure, and climate. These are the central themes of President Biden’s next legislative proposal, called the American Jobs Plan, which he announced yesterday afternoon in a union hall in Western Pennsylvania. The official rollout appropriately took place in the rust belt city of Pittsburgh, where organized labor has long played a critical role in the region’s workforce and manufacturing output. Here’s the White House’s full, detailed outline of the plan, and here’s a short-and-sweet readout of the most important points.
Before we dive into Biden’s plan, be sure to check out Tuesday’s edition of the Progress Report, where we talk about why investment in America’s infrastructure is so urgent and explore what exactly “infrastructure” means (Hint: It’s not just roads and bridges!).
- Here’s a quick overview of Biden’s proposal, according to this helpful breakdown from the New York Times. The investments add up to about $2.25 trillion. That includes funding for transportation (modernize 20,000 miles of highways and roads; repair 10,000 bridges; and, by 2030, build a network of 500,000 electric vehicle chargers), buildings and utilities (one provision would invest more than $200 billion in tax credits and grants to improve and build affordable housing), jobs and Innovation ($500 billion for manufacturing jobs, worker training, and R&D), and in-home care ($400 billion to expand access to caregiving and improve pay/benefits for caregivers). For the visual learners out there, Jennifer Epstein of Bloomberg News laid it out nicely in this tweet:
- And now to the age-old question: “But how will he pay for it?!” It’s sort of a silly question to ask when we’re recovering from an administration that gleefully enacted $1.9 trillion in deficit-funded tax cuts for the rich in 2017, but I digress. Biden says he plans to fund his infrastructure proposal by taxing big corporations, which has received a warm reception from a wide array of progressive economic groups and most importantly, voters. According to the White House, this companion pay-for proposal would also enact stricter penalties on corporations that move jobs and profits overseas.
- Biden’s planned pay-for is all in the tax code, starting with raising the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%. If that sounds like a lot to you, this handy chart from Americans for Tax Fairness is here to assure you it’s not:
- Taxing the wealthy to revive and repair our public services — we’re talking mass transit, school buildings, bridges, pipes — is also popular. A recent Data for Progress/Invest in America poll that was cited earlier today by Press Secretary Jen Psaki found that, by a 35-point margin, Americans prefer funding this new infrastructure investment by taxing corporations and the wealthy rather than by cutting existing social services. For what it’s worth, they don’t seem to mind deficit spending for such an important issue, either, although Biden has made clear he thinks having the wealthy pay their fair share is the right thing to do.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
- As part of his new plan, Biden is calling on Congress to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. This is a huge win for workers, unions, and labor organizers, who have been pushing hard in recent weeks to ensure this bill makes it to the Senate floor after it passed the House with bipartisan support last month. If enacted, the PRO Act would invalidate the cruel right-to-work laws passed by several state legislatures that hinder workers’ collective bargaining rights.
- This infrastructure plan would employ workers to modernize America’s electric grid. We all saw the horrific effects of a failed, outdated electrical grid when a winter storm hit Texas in February. In addition to a focus on clean energy, Biden’s plan also takes into account the historic racial inequities in infrastructure investments and seeks to right some of America’s past wrongs on that front. One step towards that goal? Eliminating all lead drinking water pipes.
- Biden’s proposal includes some under-the-radar ideas to tackle the climate crisis. As part of the effort to revamp and modernize our energy system, Biden wants to cap orphan oil and gas wells and abandoned mines (and put thousands of people to work in the process). His plan emphasizes the need for resilient infrastructure that both withstands the effects of climate change and reduces America’s carbon footprint.
- The proposal would direct $27 billion towards the creation of what’s known as a Green Bank, which would consolidate private resources to establish a public clean energy network without the downside of a private profit motive. This concept has already been implemented in several cities, and has been backed by climate-oriented lawmakers like Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI).
- Last but not least, we have some train news. In response to Biden’s infrastructure announcement yesterday, Amtrak released a shiny new route map with added stops in cities like Las Vegas and Columbus along with several new routes.
WHAT WE’RE READING
- Visibility Alone Will Not Keep Transgender Youth Safe by Chase Strangio and Raquel Willis (The Nation)
- Biden’s infrastructure plan is $2 trillion that America can’t wait to invest by Hayes Brown (MSNBC)
- The Fourth Surge of the Pandemic Is Upon Us by Zeynep Tufekci (The Atlantic)
- The Media Must Stop Demonizing Immigrants by Erika Andiola (The Nation)
- Fox News has become a jobs program for some Trump family members and ex-staffers by Aaron Rupar (Vox)
- White House moves to reshape role of US capitalism by Jonathan Easley, Brett Samuels, and Amie Parnes (The Hill)
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