Biden’s proposal aims to place the US corporate sector as a financier for projects that put millions of Americans to work on construction sites, as well as combating climate change and promoting social services.
“It’s a unique investment in a generation of jobs in America, unlike anything we’ve ever seen or done,” said Biden at an event in Pittsburgh. “It is big, yes. It is bold, yes. And we can do that.”
Biden’s second legislative proposal in his two months in office supports an economy shaken by the coronavirus pandemic. It also promises to strengthen unions and the country’s resilience to climate change. Another economic proposal that Biden will announce in April could add another $ 2 trillion to the cost of the project.
Along with its $ 1.9 trillion relief package, Biden’s infrastructure plan would give the federal government a bigger role in the US economy than it has had for generations, accounting for 20% or more of annual production.
The effort sets the stage for the next party conflict in Congress, where lawmakers widely agree that capital investments are needed, but are divided over the total package size and the inclusion of programs traditionally seen as social services.
“If there are going to be massive tax increases and other trillions added to the national debt, it is not likely,” said Republican Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, a day after Biden called to inform him of the proposal.
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Biden has yet to deliver on a campaign promise to raise taxes for the wealthiest, with none of the expected increases in the higher income tax rate or the capital gains tax.
The plan, instead, would increase the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% and change the tax code to close loopholes that allow companies to transfer profits abroad. Biden said the goal is not to “reach” the rich, but to deal with the divisions and inequalities exacerbated by the pandemic.
The plan would extend the cost of projects over an eight-year period and aims to pay for all of that in 15 years, without increasing the country’s debt in the long run, a senior government official told Reuters.
Neil Bradley, executive vice president and policy director for the nation’s largest trading group, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said that while the organization shares Biden’s sense of urgency in infrastructure, his plan is “dangerously wrong.”
“We are strongly opposed to the general tax increases proposed by the government, which will slow the economic recovery and make the United States less competitive globally – just the opposite of the infrastructure plan goals,” said Bradley.
The plan includes $ 621 billion to rebuild infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, highways and ports, and a historic investment of $ 174 billion in the electric vehicle market which sets the goal of a national recharge network by 2030.
Biden’s team believes that a government-led effort to strengthen the economy could make it easier to compete with increased competition and a threat to national security posed by China.
Government officials also express their goals in the text of the project to combat economic inequality created by racial discrimination – one of the points, for example, envisages dealing with air pollution that affects black and Hispanic communities near ports or power plants.
The government wants Congress to separate $ 400 billion for investment in expanding access to community care for older Americans and people with disabilities. The idea is to reach “underpaid and undervalued” workers in this industry, who are mostly non-white women.
There are still US $ 213 billion for the construction and renovation of sustainable and affordable homes, along with hundreds of billions of dollars in support of the US manufacturing sector, strengthening the country’s power grid, approving high-speed broadband across the country and renovating water systems to ensure clean drinking water.
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Biden is moving forward with the bill as he tries to keep promises to provide enough Covid vaccines to all adults by the end of May. The White House is also dealing with an increase in the number of migrants on the southern border and the consequences of a series of mass shootings.
The plan is one of the legs of the “Build Better” agenda and a second legislative package is due to be delivered in a few weeks. The expectation is that the text will include expansion in health insurance coverage, extension of child tax benefits, paid family and medical leave, among other efforts aimed at families.
The president of the Chamber of Deputies, Nancy Pelosi, signaled that she hopes to approve the infrastructure plan by July 4, although this deadline may be missed according to the Democrats, with a restricted majority in the House and Senate, seeking to reach an agreement on the details. of the proposal. The dispute has already started, as allies press for the inclusion of their priorities and Republicans signal initial concerns about the size and scope of the package.
Moderate Democrats said the package should be more targeted at traditional infrastructure projects to attract Republican votes, seeking a return to bipartisan policymaking. Liberal congressmen want to tackle climate change and economic inequality with resources that reflect the size of these challenges.
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