American Jobs Plan

American Jobs Plan

Joe Biden’s Plan to Rebuild Infrastructure and 
Reshape the US Economy

The $20 trillion US economy relies on a vast network of infrastructure from roads and bridges to freight rail and ports to electrical grids and internet provision. But the systems currently in place were built decades ago, and economists say that delays and rising maintenance costs are holding economic performance back. Civil engineers raise safety concerns as well, warning that many bridges are structurally deficient and that antiquated drinking water and wastewater systems pose risks to public health. Sceptics of federal spending have pushed for new models of private sector involvement, which they say is more efficient and cost-effective. Others argue that increased public spending will be necessary to meet the country’s growing needs. With the Covid-19 pandemic delivering a major economic shock, President Joe Biden has rolled out a sweeping plan to overhaul the nation’s infrastructure that, if approved by Congress, would be the largest federal investment in decades.

On 31st March, US president, Joe Biden, unveiled his $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan that is centred on fixing roads and bridges, expanding broadband internet access and boosting funding for research and development, plus higher corporate taxes to pay for the package. “It’s not a plan that tinkers around the edges,” President Biden said during a speech in Pittsburgh from where he kicked off his presidential campaign, “It’s a once-in-a-generation investment in America.”
In all, Biden is calling for more than $2 trillion in spending over eight years.
The break-up below provides a useful insight:
Infrastructure: $621 billion
· The plan would invest $115 billion to revamp highways and roads, including 10 major and 10,000 smaller bridges in need of reconstruction. It also includes $20 billion to improve road safety, including for cyclists and pedestrians.
· The plan calls for $85 billion to modernize existing transit systems and help agencies expand to meet rider demand. The investment would double federal funding for public transit.
· Biden is proposing $80 billion to fix Amtrak’s repair backlog.
· It would establish $174 billion in grant and incentive programs for state and local governments and the private sector to build a national network of 500,000 electric-vehicle chargers by 2030.
· The proposal seeks to replace 50,000 diesel transit vehicles and electrify at least 20 percent of the country’s yellow school bus fleet.
· The plan would invest $25 billion in airports, including programs to renovate terminals and expand car-free access to air travel.
· Biden is also pitching $17 billion for inland waterways, coastal ports, land ports of entry and ferries to invest in the nation’s freight system.
Infrastructure ‘at home’: $650 billion
· Biden’s proposal would invest $213 billion to build and retrofit more than 2 million homes. The plan would build and rehabilitate more than 500,000 homes for low- and middle-income home buyers and invest $40 billion to improve public housing.
· Biden’s proposal aims to deliver universal broadband, including to more than 35 percent of rural Americans who lack access to high-speed Internet.
· The plan would invest $111 billion for clean drinking water, $45 billion of which would be used to replace the country’s lead pipes and service lines. The effort would reduce lead exposure in 400,000 schools and child-care facilities and improve the safety of drinking water.
· The proposal calls for $100 billion to upgrade and build new public schools. It also would invest $12 billion in community college infrastructure and $25 billion to upgrade child-care facilities.
· Biden is proposing $18 billion to modernize Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics and $10 billion to revamp federal buildings.
Care economy: $400 billion
· The plan expands access to home- or community-based care for seniors and people with disabilities. It would extend a Medicaid program, Money Follows the Person, to move elderly residents out of nursing homes and back into their own homes or into the care of loved ones.
· Biden also calls for improving working conditions, including higher wages and more benefits, for caretakers, who are disproportionately women of color and who have largely stayed on the job during the coronavirus pandemic.
Research and development, manufacturing and training: $580 billion
·  Biden’s proposal would invest $180 billion in research and development. That includes a major clean-energy push to reduce emissions, build climate resilience and boost climate-focused research.
· The plan would invest $50 billion in domestic semiconductor manufacturing.
· It would provide incentives for companies to locate local manufacturing jobs in the “industrial heartland.”
· The plan would double the number of registered apprenticeships to more than 1 million and invest in a more inclusive science and technology workforce.
Tax overhaul
· The White House plan calls for about $2 trillion in new spending over eight years. The proposed tax increases would cover that cost over 15 years and become permanent.
· The plan raises the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent.
· It also increases the global minimum tax paid from about 13 percent to 21 percent.
· The proposal ends federal tax breaks for fossil fuel companies.
· It also ramps up tax enforcement against corporations and prevents US corporations from claiming tax havens as their residence.
Responding to climate change
· Much of Biden’s spending package focuses on green infrastructure and job creation. For example, the White House says automakers could hire workers to make batteries and parts for electric vehicles, shoring up their own supply chains. Consumers would also get tax incentives to buy American-made electric vehicles.
· The White House says that 40 percent of the benefits of its climate and clean-infrastructure investments would go to disadvantaged communities.
· The Biden administration argues that retrofitting homes and public infrastructure will reduce the billions of dollars in damage caused by climate disasters. The plan calls for $50 billion to improve resilience to climate change, including by protecting electric grids, food systems, urban infrastructure and hospitals in communities most vulnerable to flooding and other severe weather events.
· The infrastructure overhaul would also cover protection from wildfires, sea-level rise, hurricanes and droughts and shore up dam safety.
· The plan would put $35 billion toward clean-energy technology, new methods for reducing emissions and other broad-based climate research.
· The plan would establish an Energy Efficiency and Clean Electricity Standard that would set specific targets to cut how much coal- and gas-fired electricity power companies use over time.
Worker rights
· Biden’s plan calls for passage of the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, or Pro Act, which is aimed at significantly strengthening workers’ rights to organize.
· The proposal also places a heavy emphasis on creating union-backed jobs.
Who will pay? 
Biden’s plan includes more than $600 billion in funding to upgrade physical infrastructure such as roads and bridges, railways, airports, and water systems. But the Biden administration is also pushing to expand the traditional definition of infrastructure; the plan includes money for worker training, research and development, and manufacturing incentives, as well as $400 billion for in-home medical care for the elderly and people with disabilities. Additionally, climate change is a major focus of Biden’s plan, with hundreds of billions of dollars set aside to modernize the U.S. electrical grid and foster the adoption of electric vehicles nationwide.
To pay for his plan, Biden proposes hiking the US corporate tax rate to 28 percent, up from 21 percent. The administration is also proposing a new global minimum corporate tax and other measures to crack down on companies moving overseas for tax purposes.
While the proposal is a domestic initiative aiming to create millions of jobs – with spending on green energy projects, expanded high-speed broadband and electric vehicles as well as traditional infrastructure projects – Biden said it was the only way to fight China in the competition to dominate the future and to regain US leadership of the world. When Biden unveiled the American Jobs Plan, he mentioned China six times. “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. Later, speaking in Washington, Biden stressed the urgency of the proposal, which has met with resistance from Republicans and even several Democratic lawmakers who say the price tag is too high and object to the administration’s plans to pay for it.
“You think China is waiting around to invest in this digital infrastructure, on research and development?” Biden asked. “I promise you, they are not waiting. But they’re counting on American democracy to be too slow, too limited and too divided to keep pace,” he said.

The writer is a Lahore-based freelancer.

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