The president was right. A huge investment in infrastructure is needed to restore American greatness: “It should be VERY BIG & BOLD, Two Trillion Dollars, and be focused solely on jobs and rebuilding the once great infrastructure of our Country!”
That was President Donald Trump, writing on Twitter a year ago. And although a new president is in office, the need for infrastructure investment remains, leading to a $2.3 trillion proposal from President Joe Biden. Some tweaks are necessary, but the hope is that the new president has the political acumen to accomplish something his predecessor could only tweet about.
Weeks after unveiling the broad outline of a proposal to shore up America’s roads, bridges, ports, airports, public transportation, broadband and a variety of other structural necessities, the Biden administration is making a compelling case for its passage.
On Wednesday, the administration released a <a href=”https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/20613298-biden-infrastructure-plan-state-highlights”>state-by-state analysis</a> that demonstrates the need for infrastructure investment. In Washington, for example, the fact sheet notes that there are 416 bridges and 5,469 miles of highway in poor condition.
Similar stories are told across the country, with needs evident in every state. A nation atrophies when it fails to invest in infrastructure, and the impact is felt in the economy and the very health of its citizens. Perhaps more important, a nation falls behind when it does not invest in infrastructure.
As columnist Trudy Rubin of The Philadelphia Inquirer <a href=”https://www.columbian.com/news/2021/apr/12/rubin-bidens-infrastructure-plan-is-key-to-us-competition-with-china/”>wrote last week</a>: “The Chinese leadership has been massively investing for decades in roads, high-speed rail, airports, internet connectivity and basic research in critical technologies, while the United States rested on its laurels. The comparison isn’t pretty. It demonstrates to Beijing what Chinese leaders are already convinced of — that China’s authoritarian regime is destined to surpass a declining America economically and technologically.”
As with every grand scheme to move this nation forward, Biden’s proposal is facing backlash, particularly from Republicans in the Senate. But a sober analysis supports its importance:
• The price tag, estimated between $2.3 trillion and $2.7 trillion, is over the course of 10 years — roughly $250 billion a year. The United States spends three times that much on national defense.
• Republicans say they will not support an increase on corporate taxes, which were slashed under the 2017 Trump tax bill. But Biden’s proposal calls for the top corporate tax rate to be 27 percent — still well below the 35 percent rate in place before the tax cuts.
• Corporations such as Microsoft, Nike, Apple, and General Electric signed a letter to Biden regarding climate initiatives included in the proposal: “If you raise the bar on our national ambition, we will raise our own ambition to move the U.S. forward on this journey.”
In the end, Biden’s infrastructure initiative is about just that — national ambition. For too long, Congress has focused on tax cuts rather than investing in our nation or solving problems while responsibly paying for the fixes. As anybody who has tried to drive across the Interstate 5 Bridge at just about any hour of the day can attest, that is a failed strategy.
Indeed, the proposal is a bit of an overreach. Provisions to support organized labor or advance social justice might be better addressed in other bills. And there is room to debate the definition of “infrastructure.”
But when it comes to keeping the United States competitive through robust infrastructure spending, the president is on the right track.