Biden said that the heart of the plan is that “it modernises transportation infrastructure — our roads, our bridges, our airports”.
The briefing for the plan points out that the USA is the wealthiest country in the world, yet ranks 13th when it comes to the overall quality of its infrastructure. “After decades of disinvestment, our roads, bridges, and water systems are crumbling,” it says. “Our electric grid is vulnerable to catastrophic outages. Too many lack access to affordable, high-speed Internet and to quality housing. The past year has led to job losses and threatened economic security, eroding more than 30 years of progress in women’s labor force participation. It has unmasked the fragility of our caregiving infrastructure. And, our nation is falling behind its biggest competitors on research and development (R&D), manufacturing, and training. It has never been more important for us to invest in strengthening our infrastructure and competitiveness, and in creating the good-paying, union jobs of the future.”
The President’s plan seeks to modernize 20,000 miles of roads, fix the 10 most economically significant bridges in the country in need of reconstruction and repair the worst 10,000 smaller bridges. It will also repair hundreds of stations, renew airports, and expand transit and rail into new communities as well as replacing thousands of buses and rail cars.
The plan invests an additional US$621bn in transportation infrastructure and resilience. The President is proposing a total increase of US$115bn to modernise the bridges, highways, roads, and main streets that are in most critical need of repair.
He is also calling on Congress to invest US$85bn to modernise existing transit and help agencies expand their systems to meet rider demand. The plan also includes US$80bn to address Amtrak’s repair backlog; modernize the high-traffic Northeast Corridor; improve existing corridors and connect new city pairs; and enhance grant and loan programs that support passenger and freight rail safety, efficiency, and electrification.
Delivery of clean drinking water, a renewed electric grid and high-speed broadband to all Americans are also included, as is the elimination of all lead pipes and service lines in drinking water systems.
Thousands of people are also set to find work laying thousands of miles of transmission lines and capping hundreds of thousands of orphan oil and gas wells and abandoned mines.
There is also provision to build, preserve, and retrofit more than two million homes and commercial buildings, modernise schools and child-care facilities, and upgrade veterans’ hospitals and federal buildings.
Alongside his American Jobs Plan, Biden is releasing a Made in America Tax Plan to make sure corporations pay their fair share in taxes and encourage job creation at home.
The American Jobs Plan consists principally of one-time capital investments. It will, if passed by Congress, invest about 1% of GDP per year over eight years to upgrade infrastructure, revitalise manufacturing, invest in basic research and science, shore up supply chains and solidify our care infrastructure. In total, the plan will invest about US$2tn this decade.
Department of Labor secretary Marty Walsh welcomed the propsals. “This plan is what building back better looks like – 21st-century infrastructure including rail, roads, bridges and broadband; clean energy and drinking water for healthy communities; expanded job training and apprenticeships, so workers can take control of their futures; research and development to grow good manufacturing jobs; investment in the essential care professions that our families and communities depend on; and equity for historically marginalized communities, so nobody gets left out.
“As a former construction worker, I know a good job can change your life. As a former mayor, I know that these investments will transform struggling communities and grow local economies. As labor secretary, I stand ready to make sure these opportunities reach workers from all walks of life and in every corner of our country.”