You might have heard about this giant infrastructure plan, or maybe you haven’t.
Either way, if the two-trillion-dollar spending bill passes, it’s going to be a big deal, and there are a few things everyone ought to know. The first question I had is, what exactly does infrastructure mean?
The simple answer here is physical things we need to move around and keep society moving, including roads, bridges, trains, and power lines.
“The American Jobs plan will modernize 20,000 miles of highways, roads, and main streets that are in difficult, difficult shape right now,” said President Joe Biden when he introduced his infrastructure plan to the country.
Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg added that "this is a moment for the United States to decide if we are in fact going to lead the world or are we going to be just another country."
The president's proposal includes more than $600 billion that will be devoted to transportation-related projects.
“This package would really make a big difference in terms of addressing a lot of the backlog of needs that we’ve had in transportation for quite a long time, 20 to 30 years or so,” said Andrew Goetz, a professor at the University of Denver.
Goetz has been working in and studying transportation issues for more than 30 years. He says most of the money budgeted for transportation will go to repairs and projects we as a country have pushed aside for years.
“There would be a significant improvement in terms of roads and highways, and in particular, there a lot of the repair maintenance work that has been put off or only done in bits and pieces,” said Goetz.
Trains and public transit is another big-ticket item, coming in with a $165 billion price tag.
“Big cities with a lot of transit infrastructures like New York, Chicago, and Boston those places are going to be using the funds and making their systems better,” said Goetz.
Amtrak has proposed an expansion of possibly more than 30 new routes across the country.
There’s $175 billion for electric vehicle infrastructure and another $16 billion for environmental projects.
And another $100 billion to implement a nationwide broadband network, and then we start to stretch the classic definition of infrastructure into what some people call the care infrastructure.
“The infrastructure we all need to be able to work. So, childcare, paid leave, home care,” said Hannah Matthews, the associate director for policy at the Center for Law and Social Policy.
The organization has been advocating for more funding for the core infrastructure, some of which showed up in the president's first proposal.
“It includes a major investment in home and community-based care,” said Matthews.
That comes in the form of $400 billion for expanded long-term care for Medicare. That would allow more seniors to receive care at home.
Advocates like Hannah hope that the second stage of the infrastructure plan expands more into care infrastructure.
“Affordable childcare, universal childcare for all and pre-kindergarten, so making sure three and four-year-olds have access to pre-k programs,” said Matthews.
Advocates are also hopeful for paid family leave and free community college in the next infrastructure package.
This proposal's total price tag is $2 trillion, and Biden says he wants to fund it by raising corporate tax rates in the US from 21% to 28%.
There are also talks about raising taxes on those making more than $400,000.
There’s still a lot to be sorted out in Washington.