Biden lays out 'once-in-a-generation' infrastructure plan
The US government is set to invest $2 trillion (€1.7 trillion) into rebuilding the nation's crumbling infrastructure, President Joe Biden said on Wednesday. Biden also pledged to increase taxes on large corporations.
The president said his "Build Back Better" program — projected to last eight years — would create millions of jobs.
"Today I'm proposing a plan for the nation that rewards work, not just rewards wealth," Biden said in a trade union hall in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Biden also said the initiative would help bolster the US in the face of China's rapidly growing economy.
"It's a once-in-a-generation investment in America, unlike anything we've seen or done since we built the interstate highway system and the space race decades ago."
What does the plan include?
- Upgrade 20,000 miles of roads and repair thousands of bridges
- Double funding for public transport and install thousands of electric vehicle charging stations
- Hike corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% and close tax loopholes
- Replace lead water pipes and upgrade sewers nationwide
- Upgrade power grid for clean electric energy
- Renovate hospitals and schools, and provide training for workers
What about tax hikes?
The plan would be funded by raising taxes on US corporations. The current administration aims to undo the cuts passed under Donald Trump, with the hike covering the costs of the initiative over a span of 15 years.
The US Chamber of Commerce welcomed the plan, but called the tax rate increase "dangerously misguided." Biden defended the move saying that a 28% corporation tax rate is still lower than it was between the end of World War II and 2017.
"No one — let me say it again, no one — making under $400,000 will see their federal taxes go up, period," he said.
"This is not about penalizing anyone. I have nothing against millionaires and billionaires," Biden said. At the same time, he noted that online retail giant Amazon and scores of other giant US-based companies currently pay no income tax.
"A fireman and a teacher paying 22 percent and Amazon and 90 other major corporations paying zero in federal taxes? I am going to put an end to that," the president said.
How did US lawmakers respond to the plan?
Democrats, who narrowly control Congress, have said they would like Republican support for the deal, but may be forced to push through legislation unilaterally as with Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief fund.
Biden's transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg, who will be on the front lines to ensure the plan's implementation, welcomed the deal.
"I think that there's a tremendous opportunity now to have bipartisan support for a big, bold vision on infrastructure," Buttigieg said. "Americans don't need a lot of selling to know that we've got to do big things when it comes to our infrastructure."
Progressive Democrat lawmakers said that the plan fell short. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter that it "needs to be way bigger."
Other progressives have also called for much higher spending. Senator Ed Markey wants to see $11 trillion invested over the next decade.
ab/dj (AFP, AP, Reuters)