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Biden Says Infrastructure Plan Vital To Keeping Pace With China

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Update (1430ET): Biden tried to sell his infrastructure plan as critical to keeping the US competitive against China, and is overdue after decades of under-investment in infrastructure. “It’s a once-in-a generation investment in America,” Biden said. “It is a the single largest investment in American jobs since World War II,” he said.

He also once again claimed that American voters – including Republican voters – support the infrastructure plan (even as most polls show Republicans overwhelmingly support Biden’s predecessor, and oppose the new administration’s agenda).

But because of the depredations of the pandemic, Biden insisted his bill needed to go beyond rebuilding roads and bridges. He said the US needs to finance expanded Internet access, replace lead water pipes in communities – since nobody knows which town will be the next Flint, Mich., or so Biden said – and building out charging stations for electric vehicles, absorbing billions of dollars in capex costs that might have fallen to American corporations like Tesla.

Because if the US loses the race to switch to electric cars, China just might “own the future.”

“China and the rest of the world” are “attempting to own the future – the technology, quantum computing, investing significant amounts of money dealing with cancer and Alzheimer’s,” he said. “That’s the infrastructure of a nation.”

“Do you think China is waiting around to invest in its digital infrastructure and research and development? I promise you, they are not waiting. But they’re counting on American Democracy to be too slow, too limited, too divided to keep pace.”

He also said he would be open to be open to compromise with Republicans regarding how to pay for the bill, so long as it doesn’t raise income taxes on American families bringing in more than $400K. Compromise is “inevitable,” he said.

“Debate is welcome. Compromise is inevitable. Changes to my plan are certain,” Biden said. He added he would soon invite Republican lawmakers to the White House and that the administration is “open to good ideas and good-faith negotiations.”

But, Biden said: “Here’s what we won’t be open to: We will not be open to doing nothing. Inaction is simply not an option.”

GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell has said he would support a more scaled-back infrastructure plan, but they have attacked both the proposed tax hikes and the large scale of Biden’s pitch.

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President Joe Biden will deliver his second sales pitch for his “American Jobs Plan” in under a week on Wednesday, when he will “ramp up the pressure” (according to Bloomberg) on recalcitrant Republican lawmakers by appealing directly to their voters while Congress is in recess and lawmakers are home visiting in their districts. Biden’s plan calls for $2.3 trillion of government spending,

His speech from the White House is slated to begin at 1345ET. According to Bloomberg, Biden and his team have been scrambling to reach out to governors, mayors and the broader public through phone calls, briefings and local TV appearances to make their case for “Part 1” of the president’s two-part infrastructure/climate change/wealth redistribution program (and the massive federal tax hikes needed to pay for them…or at least offset some of the cost).

BBG added that Biden will insist that certain less-popular aspects of his plan (replacing lead pipes, expanding high-speed broadband access, upgrades of the electric grid) are necessary to help the US compete against China.

White House aides have said they want Congress to make significant progress on an infrastructure bill by Memorial Day. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Peter DeFazio said Tuesday his panel aims to complete its part “probably” in the third week of May.

But while Biden and his handlers have been eager to paint the massive stimulus bill as accretive for both the economy and taxpayers, an analysis conducted by the Penn Wharton Budget Model found that the proposed business tax provisions – which continue past the budget window – will decrease GDP by 0.8% in 2050, relative to current law. Here’s why:

  • the spending provisions of the AJP, in absence of any tax increases, would increase government debt by 4.72% and decrease GDP by 0.33% in 2050, as the crowding out of investment due to larger government deficits outweighs productivity boosts from the new public investments.
  • the tax provisions proposed in the AJP, in the absence of any new spending, would decrease government debt by 11.16 percent in 2050. Despite the reduction in public debt, the AJP’s tax provisions discourage business investment and thus reduce GDP by 0.49 percent in 2050.

Bloomberg economists, meanwhile, have said the plan would boost annual fixed investment in the economy by about 6%.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has said Biden will host lawmakers, including GOP leaders, in the Oval Office to discuss the Biden plan, but the president has also said he’d be willing to go the “reconciliation” route, which would allow him to bypass the filibuster and pass the plan through the Senate with a 50-50 vote (with the tie presumably broken by VP Kamala Harris).

Republican lawmakers have blasted Biden’s plan, calling it too large after his $1.9 trillion pandemic-relief bill and saying it would damage the economy with the proposed corporate-tax hikes to help fund it. The White House is hoping to make an end-run around that criticism through public appeals.

“We hope that Republicans can join their constituents across the country in supporting this effort,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union. “Ultimately, if that doesn’t happen, he is elected to do the job, to win the future for America, to invest in our people.”

Watch the video live below:

Anyone searching for more details on the Biden infrastructure plan should consult this fact sheet released by the White House. Remember, Biden and his team are also planning another $1 trillion to focus on “human infrastructure” in a separate bill that the administration hopes to push through in a few months, assuming everything goes according to plan with Part 1. Most recently, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo has become the latest to push for Dems to remove the cap on SALT deductions imposed as part of the Trump tax cuts.

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