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Infrastructure: Breaking Down Biden’s Plan

At the end of March, President Biden released his $2 trillion infrastructure plan which plans to reinvigorate the US economy in a variety of ways. 

First, there are provisions to improve roads, bridges and other pieces of transportation infrastructure, which makes up $621 billion of the plan. Apart from what most believe transportation infrastructure includes, this project would also bolster the availability of electric vehicle recharge stations and create incentives for both consumers and companies to switch over to electric cars. With the growing availability of electric vehicle options outside of the pricey Tesla, it is more feasible for the average consumer to consider an electric car for their next vehicle purchase. This provision also expands the Amtrak system to include more routes and make improvements to the deficient system. This is done in hopes of encouraging train travel by decreasing the cost on consumers and providing better service overall. In the same vein, public transportation would receive around $85 billion to improve its routes and amenities. 

Next, $650 billion would go to improving American home life. While broad, it covers many important improvements which are much needed and lagging behind other countries. This includes expanding broadband internet access, greater funding to upgrade public schools, increase public housing, and cleaning up abandoned mines and oil wells. Most importantly, it sends a combined $211 billion to water and electric grid infrastructure. After devastating weather and power outages in Texas, it became abundantly clear that the power grids need to be reinforced to prevent such an issue from happening again. The water infrastructure is a long-overdue provision that addresses the problems faced in places like Flint, Michigan where the citizenry was left with undrinkable and unusable tap water that was contaminated with lead. President Biden even invoked the Flint water crisis in statements, noting that this was not a one-time incident and there are hundreds of cities in America with similar issues. 

The third category addresses the research and development of the American workforce. While it is split into multiple categories, the main drive is to better research climate change and clean energy, all while creating jobs in the process. It also provides funds for research on preventing future pandemics. This all would cost around $300 billion, but if it is successful, the plan would create thousands of jobs in clean energy, an important first step to abandoning environmentally harmful practices like fracking and coal mining. The hope is that the new jobs would go to those displaced from the closure of these industries, something that the plan accounts for in the form of a dislocated workers program. 

Finally, the plan includes $400 billion, though not for anything strictly infrastructure-related. This provision is exclusively for caregivers of the elderly and disabled. Specifically, it increases their wages and expands Medicaid coverage for caregivers. Underneath the need for caregivers, it also tackles a social justice aspect of the issue which is that many caregivers are women of color who are criminally underpaid for their work. With this provision, Biden hopes to add value and visibility to this line of work as well as better compensation. 

The White House plans to pay for this by taxing corporations and closing tax loopholes which would ultimately pay for the plan over the next 15 years. Getting the plan to pass is the next battle for the administration as they start negotiations with the GOP, a party that will most strongly object to the tax increases. To be clear, the taxes would not affect those who make less than $400,000 a year and are not intended to punish the wealthy. Instead, the plan wants to hold corporations accountable for outsourcing jobs and stowing away money in offshore accounts. The goal is to have the companies pay their fair share in taxes just as the rest of America does and hopefully more jobs and a better economy will be the result.