Biden in Pittsburgh unveils $2T infrastructure package, which would create millions of jobs

By: - March 31, 2021 5:10 pm

President Joe Biden discusses the details of his $2 trillion infrastructure plan during a stop at Carpenters Pittsburgh Training Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on March 31, 2021. (C-SPAN)

A version of this story originally appeared in the Pennsylvania Capital-Star.

Unveiling what he called the boldest domestic spending package since the construction of America’s interstate highway system and the dawning of the space race, President Joe Biden returned to Pennsylvania on Wednesday, releasing the broad details of a $2 trillion infrastructure package that would rebuild highways and bridges, along with providing funding programs for housing, broadband and schools and increasing U.S. manufacturing jobs over the next eight years.

“This is a once in a generation investment in America,” Biden said during his appearance at a union training center in Pittsburgh. ”We’ll grow the economy, and it will make us more competitive around the world. It’s big, yes, It’s bold, yes. And we can get it done.” 

The package, part of Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda, would fund typical infrastructure projects such as rebuilding roads, advancing the country’s transition to electric vehicle charging stations, and combating climate change.

The sweeping program would be paid for through a tax hike on corporations, raising the rate from 21% to 28%. The Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan think tank that’s part of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution, estimates that reform alone is worth $730 billion over 10 years.

Biden told the crowd Wednesday that he wasn’t targeting wealthy Americans, and he pledged that no American who earns under $400,000 would see their taxes increase. Rather, he said, it was about leveling the playing field and making sure that hugely wealthy corporations pay their fair share.

“This is not to target those who made it … this is about opening opportunities for everyone else,” he said. “We will all do better when we all do well. It’s time to rebuild the economy from the middle out, not the top down. Wall Street didn’t build this country, you, the great middle class, built this country. And unions built the middle class. And this time, when we rebuild the middle class, we’re going to bring everyone along.”

The plan also aims to bring clean energy manufacturing jobs to communities that rely on the coal industry in an effort to encourage manufacturers to locate in those areas.

“Imagine knowing you’re handing your children and grandchildren a country that leads the world in clean energy production,” he said.

Biden’s plan faces a tough road on Capitol Hill, and may have to be passed through the reconciliation process, bypassing Republicans.

But as Politico reported Tuesday, the plan also may have to overcome skepticism among Democrats who think it doesn’t go far enough. Among them is U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., who said the package “is not nearly enough” and “needs to be way bigger.”

For its part, the White House is looking for bipartisan support for the bill.

“Historically, infrastructure had been a bipartisan undertaking, often led by Republicans,” Biden said, pointing to President Abraham Lincoln’s role in building the transcontinental railroad and President Dwight Eisenhower’s leadership in the construction of interstate highways.

“So there’s no reason why it can’t be bipartisan,” Biden said. “The divisions of the moment shouldn’t stop us from doing the right things for the future.”

In response to the presidential announcement, a group of more than 360 local elected officials from across the United States called on Biden and Congress to approve “robust infrastructure funding to make our communities healthier and protect the environment.”

States Newsroom reporter Ariana Figueroa contributed to this story. 

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John L. Micek
John L. Micek

John L. Micek is the editor-in-chief of Colorado Newsline sister outlet Pennsylvania Capital-Star.