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Biden introduces ‘big’ infrastructure strategy

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In Pittsburgh, the president unveiled what would be a hard-hatted transformation of the U.S. economy as grand in scale as the New Deal or Great Society programs that shaped the 20th century.

“It’s going to create the strongest, most resilient, innovative economy in the world,” the president said in a Wednesday afternoon speech in Pittsburgh. “It’s big, yes, it’s bold, yes, and we can get it done.”

Biden sees infrastructure as a fundamental promise to the entire country that must be honored before Democrats face voters in 2022.

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 is 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 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 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 an increasingly antiquated technology.

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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% this year.

Separately, Biden will propose in the coming weeks a series of soft infrastructure investments in child care, family tax credits, and other domestic programs, another expenditure of roughly $2 trillion to be paid for by tax hikes on wealthy individuals and families, according to people familiar with the proposal.

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