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Biden says $2T American Jobs Plan will grow infrastructure, economy in 'key ways'

By
Don Johnson & Daniel Uria
President Joe Biden signs the PPP Extension Act of 2021 into law in the Oval Office of the White House on Tuesday, as Vice President Kamala Harris and Small Business Administration Administrator Isabel Guzman look on. Photo by Doug Mills/UPI/Pool
President Joe Biden signs the PPP Extension Act of 2021 into law in the Oval Office of the White House on Tuesday, as Vice President Kamala Harris and Small Business Administration Administrator Isabel Guzman look on. Photo by Doug Mills/UPI/Pool | License Photo

March 31 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden outlined his $2 trillion infrastructure plan on Wednesday, declaring it a "big" and "bold" proposal that's essential to the economic future of the United States.

Biden said his plan to reform the nation's infrastructure will be split into two parts: the American Jobs Plan, which he discussed in an event in Pittsburgh on Wednesday afternoon and the American Families Plan, which he plans to discuss in "a few weeks."

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He said the American Jobs Plan will place a focus on modernizing transportation infrastructure including roads, bridges and airports.

"It grows the economy in key ways. It puts people to work to repair and upgrade that we badly need. It makes it easier and more efficient to move goods, to get to work and make us more competitive around the world," he said.

According to a White House handout before Biden's speech the the proposal also aims to:

  • Spend $621 billion on bridges, roads, public transit, ports, airports and electric vehicle development. Biden has said the plan will create "really good-paying jobs" and help the nation better compete.
  • Invest $174 billion in the electric vehicle market by giving consumers rebates and tax incentives to buy electric vehicles made in America and establish programs to build a national network of 500,000 charging stations by 2030. It would also electrify at least 20% of school buses.
  • Allocate $115 billion to modernize 20,000 miles of highways, roads and main streets -- and $20 billion to improve road safety and repair the worst 10,000 smaller bridges.
  • Put more than $300 billion to expand broadband Internet access, upgrade electric grids and improve the nation's drinking water infrastructure.
  • Spend $300 billion to construct and upgrade schools and affordable housing.
  • Inject $580 billion into job training, manufacturing and research and development.
  • Put $400 billion into care for elderly and disabled Americans.
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Biden also said the plan would place a focus on buying American, including outreach to minority communities within the United States.

"Not a contract will go out, that I control, that will not go to a company that is an American company, with American products all the way down the line and American workers," he said. "And we'll buy the goods we need from all of America, communities historically that have been left out of these investments, Black, Latino, Asian American, Native American, rural, small businesses, entrepreneurs across the country."

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The total cost of the proposal is about $2 trillion and the White House said it would seek to pay for the proposal by raising the corporate tax rate to 28%.

The tax hike would fund the infrastructure plan within 15 years and would be combined with plans to discourage firms from listing tax havens as their address and offshoring profits, the White House outlined in a fact sheet early Wednesday.

As part of the 2017 tax overhaul, Republicans slashed the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%. Biden's plan would boost the global minimum tax for multinational corporations and ensure they pay at least 21%.

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The plan would also levy a 15% minimum tax on the income the largest corporations report to investors and make it harder for American companies to acquire or merge with a foreign business to avoid paying U.S. taxes.

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"This is not to target those who've made it, not to seek retribution. This is about opening opportunities for everybody else," Biden said. "And here's the truth, we all will do better when we all do well. It's time to build our economy from the bottom up and from the middle out. Not the top down."

Biden added, however, that he was "open to other ideas" provided they do not impose tax increases on people making less than $400,000.

While Democrats and Republicans agree that U.S. infrastructure is in need of repair, Republicans generally oppose tax hikes to pay for the spending proposal.

Democrats will need support from 10 GOP senators to pass Biden's plan, or will have to again pass the bill through budget reconciliation, which would not require any Republicans to back the plan. Democrats passed Biden's $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan under this process.

Biden said he expects Republican support for the plan and had spoken to Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell about the matter.

"The divisions of the moment shouldn't stop us from doing the right thing for the future. I'm going to bring Republicans into the Oval Office, listen to them, what they have to say and be open to other ideas," he said. "We'll have a good faith negotiation with every Republican that wants to help get this done. But we have to get it done."

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McConnell was critical of the bill on Twitter Wednesday, describing it as a "Trojan horse for far-left demands" and opposing the tax hike.

"My advice to the administration: If you want to do an infrastructure bill, let's do an infrastructure bill," he wrote. "Before the pandemic, we had the best economy in 50 years. We should not raise taxes under the guise of an infrastructure bill and send our economy in the wrong direction."

Wednesday's proposal is part of the administration's efforts to help the country emerge from the throes of COVID-19. Biden and progressive Democrats also hope to use the proposal to combat climate change and move to cleaner energy sources.

The nation's infrastructure has been in need to repair for years. The American Society of Civil Engineers this year gave U.S. infrastructure a grade of C-, and said an additional $2.6 trillion in funding is required over the next decade.

The White House says Biden's proposal goes beyond just spending on roads and bridges, as it also focuses on the care economy with investments in education and child care.

The plan would provide $400 billion to bolster care-giving for aging and disabled Americans and expand access to long-term care services under Medicaid -- eliminating the wait list for hundreds of thousands of people. It would allow more people to receive care at home through community-based services or from family members.

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The proposal would also improve wages for home health workers, of whom one in six currently live in poverty, the plan says.

The plan also includes an investment of $85 billion to modernize existing transit and double federal funding for public transit. About $80 billion would go to Amtrak repairs and its Northeast Corridor line between Boston and Washington, D.C.

About $25 billion would be spent for airports and $17 billion for inland waterways, ports and ferries. More than $213 billion would go toward building, renovating and retrofitting more than 2 million homes and housing units. More than 500,000 homes for low- and middle-income homebuyers would be built under the plan.

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