What’s Left: Biden’s Infrastructure Bill is a Long-Term Cost-Efficient Plan to Address Inequality

Reagan Whittle, Contributing Writer

The party that claims to be the voice of economic rationality and the champion of the American working class, one would assume, would advocate a project anticipated to produce millions of jobs, reinvigorate the economy and minimize the extent of future aid and relief funds. The GOP’s staunch aversion to Biden’s American Jobs Plan does not seem to be based on any conflict with the party’s acclaimed values but rather a manifestation of partisan polarization, lobbyist loyalty and hypocrisy. The American Jobs Plan, while perhaps not perfect, is a sound and necessary venture to revive the American economy, promote mitigation and resilience strategies against climate change and provide opportunities for greater equity amongst the U.S. population. Failing to strengthen America’s crumbling infrastructure, which is currently ranked 13th internationally, will inevitably lead to greater costs in the future, particularly for the nation’s most vulnerable communities. If the Republican Party even wants to pretend to feign interest in the wellbeing and prosperity of the average American citizen (or the budget if human lives aren’t a valuable enough consideration) then there seems no reason for its representatives to not at the very least have a dialogue about passing some variation of the American Jobs Plan. By rejecting this proposal, the GOP will be subjecting millions of Americans to an avoidable cycle of poverty. 

Biden’s American Jobs Plan is an upwards of $2 trillion investment project to improve American infrastructure, create jobs, promote equity and combat climate change. According to New York Magazine, spending will be divided between public infrastructure, infrastructure at home, the care economy; and research, development and manufacturing for clean energy. One in five miles of our highways and roads and 45,000 of our bridges are in poor condition. Crumbling roads and bridges, inefficient public transportation and infrastructure are ill-equipped to handle the increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters, which are the inevitable consequences of the exacerbation of climate change. The lack of changes to infrastructures places millions of this nation’s citizens, particularly those most economically vulnerable, to significant losses in their time, money, livelihoods and even lives. According to the Climate Fueled Weather Disasters: Costs to State and Local Economies, since 1980, the United States has experienced a four-fold increase in frequency of extreme weather disasters. According to thewhitehouse.gov, in 2020, the United States experienced twenty-two individual climate disasters resulting in $95 billion costs in damages to both private and public buildings. For those of us willing to admit that climate change is a legitimate issue, with repercussions that are inevitably worsening in the coming years, finding solutions to not only mitigate emissions but promote resilience can save significant amounts of money in the long-term. Adapted infrastructure, then, will be a key to increase society’s resilience to climate change. 

To fund the project, thewhitehouse.gov notes the corporate tax rate would be raised to 28%, which the Repebulican Party claims would be detrimental to economic recovery following the pandemic. Given that, as CNBC notes, corporate taxes are lower than they have been for the last 70 years, 91 Fortune 500 companies paid $0 in federal taxes in 2018 and average corporations pay a mere 8% in taxes, this appears a reasonable realm from which to pursue capital for the project. The American Jobs Plan will demand only 1% of the annual GDP, a small dent for such a significant positive outcome capable of producing millions of good jobs and enhancing quality of life for all Americans. Aversions to raising corporate taxes do not appear to be out of concern for the average American, but the lobbyist and financial stakeholders so many in Washington rely upon to fund their campaigns and personal indulgences. Reviving the American economy necessitates the creation of jobs, particularly long-term jobs in sectors such as caregiving and green energy which the American Jobs Plan seeks to promote. Providing individuals with the services and infrastructure which allow them the transportation mobility, housing security and financial equity to contribute to the American economy seems a lasting solution. While it is inevitably a daunting challenge to corral the GOP into supporting this bill, it is not because of its weaknesses as a policy but the corrosive bipartisan climate of Washington and the insistence among the physically conservative on relying upon bandaid solutions that offer little short-term relief but do next to nothing address these perpetual infrastructure dilemmas, which are costly and only to be exacerbated in the future.