Date: Thursday, April 1st, 2021
Source: Freight Waves
The White House has released an outline of President Joe Biden’s vision for infrastructure: a $2 trillion, 10-year American Jobs Plan that includes upgrading transportation infrastructure as well as renewing the electric grid, high-speed broadband to all parts of the U.S. and delivering clean drinking water.
Biden envisions the plan fully paid for within 15 years – but only if he is able to pass an adjoining plan to increase corporate taxes from the current 21% passed under the Trump administration in 2018 to 28%.
“The American Jobs Plan is an investment in America that will create millions of good jobs, rebuild our country’s infrastructure and position the United States to outcompete China,” the plan states. “Public domestic investment as a share of the economy has fallen by more than 40% since the 1960s. The American Jobs Plan will invest in America in a way we have not invested since we built the interstate highways and won the space race.”
The U.S. Congress has the task of hashing out what ultimately stays in the bill and how much of it actually gets funded. While Democrats applauded the package for being “visionary and exactly what people across this country have been asking for from national leaders for years, even decades,” according to House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio, D, Oregon, his Republican counterpart sees it differently.
“The President’s blueprint is a multitrillion-dollar partisan shopping list of progressive priorities, all broadly categorized as ‘infrastructure’ and paid for with massive, job-killing tax increases,” commented Sam Graves, R, Missouri, the committee’s ranking member. “Such tax hikes couldn’t come at a worse time, with the economy fighting its way out of this pandemic. This proposal will hurt small businesses and job creators throughout the country.”
The National Retail Federation (NRF) also criticized the plan’s tax-hike funding mechanism.
“Raising the tax rate on corporate income to the highest in the industrialized world, especially at a time when many businesses are still reeling from the impact of the pandemic, will not help us to recognize continued growth, spur job creation or encourage capital investment and will, in fact, deter domestic economic activity,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.
Biden’s plan calls for investing an additional $621 billion in transportation infrastructure, including $115 billion to modernize highways, roads and bridges that are in most need of repair. It warns that 20% of the country’s highways and major roads are in poor condition, as well as 45,000 bridges. “Delays caused by traffic congestion alone cost over $160 billion per year, and motorists are forced to pay over $1,000 every year in wasted time and fuel.”
The plan includes $20 billion to improve road safety, which includes a new Safe Streets for All program to fund state and local “vision-zero” plans to reduce crashes and fatalities.
Biden’s plan points out that unlike highways and transit, rail lacks a multiyear funding stream to address deferred maintenance and built new lines, and calls on Congress to invest $80 billion to address Amtrak’s repair backlog and enhance grant and loan programs that support both passenger and freight rail safety.
“Our ports and waterways need repair and reimagination too,” the plan states, and calls on Congress to invest $17 billion in inland waterways, coastal ports, land ports of entry and ferries, “which are all essential to our nation’s freight.” It includes a Healthy Ports program to mitigate the cumulative impacts of air pollution on neighborhoods near ports. Biden is also seeking $25 billion to invest in airports, including funding for the Airport Improvement Program. “These investments will position the United States as a global leader in clean freight and aviation.”
Included in the plan is $174 billion “to win” the electric vehicles (EV) market and “enable automakers to spur domestic supply chains from raw materials to parts, retool factories to compete globally and support American workers to make batteries and EVs.”
As Biden proposed during his campaign, his plan establishes grant and incentive programs for state and local governments and the private sector to build a national network of 500,000 EV chargers by 2030, “while promoting strong labor, training, and installation standards.”