PITTSBURGH — President Joe Biden outlined a huge $2.3 trillion plan Wednesday to reengineer the nation’s infrastructure in what he billed as “a once-in-a-generation investment in America” that would undo his predecessor’s signature legislative achievement — giant tax cuts for corporations — in the process.

Speaking at a carpenters union training center in Pittsburgh, Biden drew comparisons between his hard-hatted proposed transformation of the U.S. economy and the space race — and promised results as grand in scale as the New Deal or Great Society programs that shaped the 20th century.

“It’s not a plan that tinkers around the edges,” Biden said. “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. In fact, it’s the largest American jobs investment since World War II. It will create millions of jobs, good-paying jobs.”

White House officials say the spending would generate those jobs as the country shifts away from fossil fuels and combats the perils of climate change. It is also an effort to compete with the technology and public investments made by China, which has the world’s second-largest economy and is fast gaining on the United States’ dominant position.

“I’m convinced that if we act now, in 50 years people are going to look back and say this is the moment when America won the future,” Biden said.

The Democratic president’s infrastructure projects would be financed by higher corporate taxes — a trade-off that could lead to fierce resistance from the business community and thwart attempts to work with Republican lawmakers. Biden hopes to pass an infrastructure plan by summer, which could mean relying solely on the slim Democratic majorities in the House and the Senate.

The higher corporate taxes would aim to raise the necessary piles of money over 15 years and then reduce the deficit going forward. In doing so, Biden would undo the 2017 tax overhaul by President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans and lift the corporate tax rate to 28 percent from the 21 percent rate.

“Ninety-one Fortune 500 Companies, including Amazon, pay not a single solitary penny in income tax,” Biden said.

Wednesday’s announcement will be followed in coming weeks by Biden pushing a companion bill of roughly equal size for investments in child care, family tax credits and other domestic programs. That nearly $2 trillion package would be paid for by tax hikes on the wealthy.

Biden’s choice of Pittsburgh for unveiling the plan carried important economic and political resonance. He not only won Pittsburgh and its surrounding county to help secure the presidency, but he launched his campaign there in 2019. The city famed for steel mills that powered America’s industrial rise has steadily pivoted toward technology and health care, drawing in college graduates in a sign of how economies can change.

The White House says the largest chunk of the proposal includes $621 billion for roads, bridges, public transit, electric vehicle charging stations and other transportation infrastructure. The spending would push the country away from internal combustion engines that the auto industry views as increasingly antiquated technology.

An additional $111 billion would go to replace lead water pipes and upgrade sewers. Broadband internet would blanket the country for $100 billion. Separately, $100 billion would upgrade the power grid to deliver clean electricity. Homes would get retrofitted, schools modernized, workers trained and hospitals renovated under the plan, which also seeks to strengthen U.S. manufacturing.

The new construction could keep the economy running hot, coming on the heels of Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. Economists already estimate it could push growth above 6 percent this year.

To keep companies from shifting profits overseas to avoid taxation, a 21 percent global minimum tax would be imposed. The tax code would also be updated so that companies could not merge with foreign businesses and avoid taxes by moving their headquarters to a tax haven. And among other provisions, it would increase IRS audits of corporations.

Biden appealed for Republicans and the business community to join him in negotiations on the bill, but the legislative prospects for Biden’s twin proposals already appear to hinge on Democrats coming up with the votes on their own through the budget reconciliation process, which requires just a simple majority in the 50-50 Senate.

“I’m going to bring Republicans into the Oval Office, listen to them, what they have to say and be open to other ideas,” Biden said. “We’ll have a good faith negotiation. Any Republican who wants to help get this done. But we have to get it done.”

Democratic leaders embraced Biden’s plan Wednesday. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said it would create millions of jobs.

“I look forward to working with President Biden to pass a big, bold plan that will drive America forward for decades to come,” Schumer said at an event in Buffalo.

But Republican opposition to Biden’s ambitious proposal came swiftly, and with resolve for the long brawl ahead.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell dismissed the package as nothing more than a “Trojan horse” for tax hikes.

Republicans on Capitol Hill view the fight as a defining moment for the parties, framing it as a choice between Democrats intent on relying on government to solve the nation’s problems and a GOP that believes the private sector can best unleash the nation’s potential.

Smarting over Biden’s intent to undo the 2017 tax cuts has only solidified what could amount to a wall of GOP opposition.

The business community favors updating U.S. infrastructure but dislikes higher tax rates. U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley said in a statement that “we applaud the Biden administration for making infrastructure a top priority. However, we believe the proposal is dangerously misguided when it comes to how to pay for infrastructure.” The Business Roundtable, a group of CEOs, would rather have infrastructure funded with user fees such as tolls.

Trump, in a statement, blasted his successor’s proposal, claiming it “would be among the largest self-inflicted economic wounds in history.”

Infrastructure spending usually holds the promise of juicing economic growth, but by how much remains a subject of political debate. Commutes and shipping times could be shortened, while public health would be improved and construction jobs would bolster consumer spending.

Standard & Poor’s chief U.S. economist, Beth Ann Bovino, estimated last year that a $2.1 trillion boost in infrastructure spending could add as much as $5.7 trillion in income to the entire economy over a decade. Those kinds of analyses have led liberal Democrats in Congress such as Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal to conclude, “The economic consensus is that infrastructure pays for itself over time.”

But the Biden administration is taking a more cautious approach than some Democrats might like. After $1.9 trillion in pandemic aid and $4 trillion in relief last year, the administration is trying to avoid raising the national debt to levels that would trigger higher interest rates and make it harder to repay.

Biden’s efforts may also be complicated by demands from a handful of Democratic lawmakers who say they cannot support the bill unless it addresses the $10,000 cap on individuals’ state and local tax deductions put in place under Trump and a Republican-led Congress.

With a narrow majority in the House, those Democrats could conceivably quash any bill that doesn’t significantly lift the cap or repeal it entirely.

(13) comments

Emily Koyama

Majority of this is Green New Deal BS, not "physical infrastructure"....just like the "Rescue plan" was a huge payout to unions and mismanaged blue states.

Does ANYONE actually believe this nonsense?

Jim Klukkert

Look who's back in town! And already promising different results in 2022! Well if your fellows can pass Jim Crow Voter Suppression Laws like Georgia's, and Gerrymander like Texas, you might have a shot. But when People Vote, Democrats Win!

thanks Emily!

Jim Klukkert

Sorry Emily, I was so surprised by your sudden appearance [it’s been over 2 months since you last regaled us] that I forgot to answer your question: “Does ANYONE actually believe this nonsense?”

Well apparently a significant portion of the American public, more than the most recent President ever persuaded.

Forbes: “A poll from the Associated Press released Wednesday puts President Joe Biden’s overall approval at 61% with his approval on the economy improving.”

Polls from AP-NORC as reported in Forbes have Biden getting 73% approval on his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and 62% approval on health care and 55% approval on foreign policy. Biden’s ratings on health care has risen to 60%.

Numbers vary a bit from poll to poll, but things are looking good for the current administration.

So now you know Emily, thanks for asking!

Daniel Valdez

Jim's only rebuttle is to have opposing views or comments deleted. So typical of Dems...

Jim Klukkert

Daniel Valdez- You not only know little in the way of the world, nor of civil conduct, but you also know nothing of how the SFNM Comments Web Page works.

1. If you would consistently make civil comments within the community guidelines, your comments would not be deleted for being ABUSE. Your comments are so over the top abusive, I see that they rarely even get posted!

2. It is not my call to delete Abuse, rather the SFNM Web Editor makes that decision.

Hope you are doing better now that I have schooled you Sr. Valdez.

Ignorant of many things, so typical of Alt-Right Republicans...

Jim Klukkert

Daniel Valdez falsely claims "Jim's only rebuttle is to have opposing views or comments deleted."

Any one who reads my above rebuttal to Emily Koyama's post, wherein I cite polling numbers as reported in Forbes, knows I most often have detailed replies & cited legimate sources.

Sr. Valdez's problem is that his fact-free posts have little of substance, and mostly consist of school yard snark and name calling.

So typical of the Alt-Right....

zach miller

I reported it because it was transphobic hate speech. Try making a point without insulting a person's protected class.

Jim Klukkert

I am so looking forward to your most sincere & profuse apology, Daniel Valdez. Please do not make me wait, lest folks think you a troll!

Mike Johnson

Proof the country has become unhinged.

zach miller

Biden wants to invest in green energy as to avoid the worst outcomes of climate change. Biden also wants to work with republicans. You gotta pick one, because republicans cannot even acknowledge that climate change is happening and there needs to be action to prevent it.

Comment deleted.
Mike Johnson

[thumbup]

Comment deleted.
Jim Klukkert

Sorry Daniel Valdez, wrong again. Democrats are indeed leading the country, and the People are finally leading the Democratic Party.

Emily Koyama

2022 will be here before you know it.

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