Biden’s Infrastructure Strategy

On March 31st, President Joe Biden introduced his infrastructure plan, “The American Jobs Plan” (https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/03/31/fact-sheet-the-american-jobs-plan/ )  This is an omnibus $2 trillion plan to repair the major holes in America’s infrastructure, and to create jobs.  After three months of negotiation, it appears that Congress will pass at least a $1 trillion bipartisan plan. (https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/06/24/fact-sheet-president-biden-announces-support-for-the-bipartisan-infrastructure-framework/ )

The bipartisan infrastructure plan polls well.  A recent Yahoo/YouGov poll (https://news.yahoo.com/poll-6-in-10-gop-voters-favor-new-12-trillion-infrastructure-plan-boosting-bidens-hopes-of-a-big-bipartisan-win-201833741.html) found that only 17 percent of respondents disapproved of this plan.  “The survey of 1,592 U.S. adults, which was conducted from June 22 to 24, found that a full 60 percent of self-identified Republicans approve of the compromise infrastructure plan recently put forward by Republican and Democratic senators that would “rebuild roads, bridges and other traditional infrastructure and cost $1.2 trillion.”

What’s in and What’s out: The first cut of the Biden Infrastructure/Jobs plan had $2.15 billion in projects.  The compromise plan has $1.2 billion in projects.

1.Transportation Infrastructure: (Original plan $621 Billion; bipartisan plan approximately $500 Billion)  In essence the compromise plan kept the traditional infrastructure projects and reduced three varieties of investments: construction of an electric-vehicle infrastructure,  funds for climate-related disasters (“infrastructure resiliency”), and projects for “underserved neighborhoods” — “a new program that will reconnect neighborhoods cut off by historic investments and ensure new projects increase opportunity, advance racial equity and environmental justice, and promote affordable access.”

2. “Quality of Life at Home”: (Original plan $650 Billion; bipartisan plan approximately $400 billion) In essence this is the original Biden proposal less an allocation of $213B to “build, preserve, and retrofit more than 2 million affordable homes and commercial buildings.”

3. Caregivers for elderly and disabled. (Original plan $400 Billion; bipartisan plan $0) Biden’s original plan would have expanded Medicaid to provide affordable, quality care for everyone who needs it.

4. Research, Development, and Manufacturing: (Original plan $480 Billion; bipartisan plan approximately $100 billion.)

The Biden Infrastructure/Jobs plan collected many of the elements of previous plans and  linked them together.  There were standard infrastructure improvements, such as roads, bridges, ports, and trains, and non-standard items such as home-improvement, removal of lead water pipes, and provision of a high-speed broadband network.  The bipartisan plan retains most of the traditional infrastructure elements.

Playing the bipartisanship card: President Biden lauded the bipartisan plan: “Democracy requires compromise. The historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework will make life better for millions of Americans, create a generation of good-paying union jobs and economic growth, and position the United States to win the 21st century, including on many of the key technologies needed to combat the climate crisis.”

Clearly, Biden relishes the idea of Congress passing a significant bipartisan piece of legislation.  Writing in a June 28th editorial (https://news.yahoo.com/biden-americans-can-be-proud-of-the-infrastructure-deal-214533346.html) Biden observed: “The deal… is a signal to ourselves, and to the world, that American democracy can work and deliver for the people.  Neither Democrats nor Republicans got everything they wanted in this agreement. But that’s what it means to compromise and reach consensus — the very heart of democracy. When we negotiate in good faith, and come together to get big things done, we begin to break the ice that too often has kept us frozen in place and prevented us from solving the real problems Americans face.”

Nonetheless, Biden hasn’t given up on the other components of his original infrastructure proposal.  In his editorial,  Biden noted: “I will continue working with Congress to pass the remainder of my economic and clean energy agenda. We have an urgent need to invest in housing, clean energy deployment and the care economy. And we need to make equally critical investments in our human infrastructure: in childcare and paid leave, universal pre-K and free community college, and tax cuts for working families with children. They are inextricably intertwined with physical infrastructure.”

BB prediction: The bipartisan infrastructure plan will pass this summer.  The remainder of Biden “Jobs Plan” will pass in the fourth quarter by means of reconciliation.