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UCOMM

Biden Proposes $2T Infrastructure and Jobs Plan

The plan would create up to 18 million union jobs

Brian Young's picture
Mar 31, 2021

For four years Trump promised an infrastructure week and a massive infrastructure plan. The failure to deliver became a joke on the internet as he finished his term without any substantial proposal. Now after four years, President Joe Biden has released his plan for a massive infrastructure bill.

The $2 trillion plan would invest serious capital in revitalizing the U.S. transportation infrastructure, water systems, broadband, and manufacturing. Some of the specifics in the proposal include:

  • $621 billion to fund transportation infrastructure, including rebuilding roads, bridges, public transit, ports, airports, and electric vehicle development.
  • $580 billion for American manufacturing, research and development, and job training efforts.
  • $400 billion to create a healthcare infrastructure to care for elderly and disabled Americans, including rebuilding or repairing many VA facilities.
  • $300 billion to improve drinking water infrastructure, expand broadband access, and upgrade the electrical grid.
  • $300 billion to build and retrofit affordable housing, along with constructing and upgrading schools.

In Biden’s announcement of the plan, they set a goal to revamp 20,000 miles of roads and highways and repair 10,000 bridges. They also want to create a national network of 500,000 electric vehicle chargers by 2030 and replace 50,000 diesel public transit vehicles. Building a national car charging infrastructure was a campaign promise that Biden made to not only create new infrastructure jobs but also to combat climate change.

To improve the nation’s drinking water, Biden has proposed replacing all lead pipes within the nation’s water system. Today, 400,000 schools and childcare centers are serviced by lead pipes. Health experts say that lead is dangerous and that there is no safe amount of lead in drinking water. They also want to finally deliver universal, affordable broadband to the entire nation. According to the Brookings Institute, there are still 42 million Americans who lack access to broadband and for millions more broadband is available but unaffordable.

Additionally, funds will be used to build or retrofit 500,000 homes for low- and middle-income Americans. The administration also said that they wanted funds to ensure that everything from schools and transportation to utility grids is made more resilient in marginalized and lower-income communities where investment hasn’t always been as high as in wealthier communities. At least 40% of the benefits from the project will go towards these communities. The White House also said that all of these investments would ensure that the U.S. infrastructure is more resilient to climate change.

The plan would also spend about $16 billion in investments to plug countless defunct oil and gas wells and to reclaim abandoned coal mines. The Biden Administration expects this money will put hundreds of thousands of people to work in union jobs. Many of those people will be workers whose jobs have been lost or are in danger of being lost due to the move to more renewable energy. The investment would also address serious safety and environmental threats that the wells and mines pose due to soil, water, and air pollution. This investment would be a major boost for communities in areas like West Virginia that have seen countless jobs lost as the country moves away from coal. The White House estimates that there are hundreds of thousands of wells that need to be capped and mines that have been abandoned.

Since this is federal money, these projects will be subject to Davis Bacon laws, which mean that they must pay a prevailing wage and will generate millions of good-paying union jobs, which could be as high as 18 million new jobs created.

“The President’s plan will ensure that these investments produce good-quality jobs with strong labor standards, prevailing wages, and a free and fair choice to join a union and bargain collectively,” the White House said in a statement. “These investments will advance racial equity by providing better jobs and better transportation options to underserved communities. These investments also will extend opportunities to small businesses to participate in the design, construction, and manufacturing of new infrastructure and component parts.”

With such a focus on investing in America and creating union jobs here in the United States, the bill has been applauded by union leaders who are urging a swift passage of the bill by Congress.

“President Biden's infrastructure proposal has the potential to be the most significant jobs-creating investment ever in our nation,” said Terry O’Sullivan, General President of LIUNA. “Our nation's infrastructure needs have been languishing for far too long and an infrastructure renaissance is now within reach. The White House infrastructure proposal will restore our economy and create hundreds of thousands of good union jobs. The proposal recognizes that our infrastructure needs are vast and will only continue to grow without decisive action. More than forty percent of our roadways are in poor or mediocre condition and Americans make 178 million trips daily across structurally deficient bridges. There is a water main break every two minutes. Our infrastructure deficiencies are a threat to our economy and our safety.”

With such a large price tag, especially after spending $1.9 trillion on the American Recovery Plan, Biden has proposed increasing the corporate tax rate to 28%. The White House has said that this tax increase, along with a measure designed to stop companies from offshoring profits, would fund the infrastructure plan within 15 years. A recent study found that 91 Fortune 500 companies paid $0 in federal taxes on US income in 2018, meaning that big companies like Amazon are paying nothing while allowing the average American to foot the bill.

“Today’s announcement brings us one step closer to repairing, rebuilding, and restoring our country,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Working people are continuing to bear the brunt of the greatest national crisis since the Great Depression, and any just recovery will require unprecedented federal investments in the working communities that have lost the most.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has reportedly told her Caucus that she would like to get the bill passed by the Fourth of July. The Senate will then take up the bill where they could use budget reconciliation to pass it, although President Biden and Senators like Joe Manchin have indicated that they would like to see some Republicans come on board to vote for the plan.

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