WASHINGTON (CN) — With shovel-ready plans and long-term investments in environmentally conscious projects, President Joe Biden outlined a more than $2 trillion infrastructure package Wednesday and called for a bipartisan push to pass the legislation.
“The divisions of the moment shouldn’t stop us from doing the right thing for the future,” Biden said in a speech at the Carpenters Pittsburgh Training Center.
Significant congressional investment in U.S. infrastructure hasn’t happened since 2015, when lawmakers passed a $305 billion bill to reauthorize federal programs and other projects. Former President Donald Trump signed the Clean Water Infrastructure Act in 2018, but that measure only gave $6 billion to federal water infrastructure projects.
Biden said his infrastructure plan includes two parts: the portion introduced Wednesday dubbed the American Jobs Plan, and another yet to be detailed that is tentatively called the American Family Plan.
The jobs plan is intended to reward work, not wealth, and be a once-in-a-generation investment in America not seen since the construction of U.S. interstate highway systems in the 1950s, the president said.
“In fact, it’s the largest American jobs investment since World War II,” he said. “It will create millions of jobs, good-paying jobs, it will grow the economy, make us more competitive around the world, promote our national security interests and put us in a position to win the global competition with China in the coming years.”
Part of that plan sinks hundreds of billions into fixing the 10,000 failing bridges throughout the country, along with modernizing another 20,000 miles of highways and main streets in desperate need of repair. The infrastructure investment would also carve out a plan to install a network of 500,000 electric car charging stations throughout the U.S., and a conversion of the federal automobile fleet to electric-only vehicles.
White House officials told reporters Tuesday night Biden’s plan would likely raise the corporate tax rate to 28% to fund the plan, which calls for spending more than $2 trillion over 15 years. It also will double down on the president’s commitment to the elderly, directing $400 billion to care for aging and disabled Americans.
Speaking in Pittsburgh, home of half the nation’s steel manufacturing through the mid-1950s, Biden said Wednesday that bumping the corporate tax to 28% would put another trillion dollars towards the infrastructure package over a decade and a half. He also emphasized no American making under $400,000 annually would see their taxes go up a cent.
“It was 35%, which was too high,” Biden said. “We all agreed five years ago it should go down to 28%, but they reduced it to 21%. We’re going to raise it back up to 28%. No one should be able to complain about that. It’s still lower than what that rate was between World War II and 2017.”
Electric grid investment and expanding broadband access also is a pivotal part of the plan, with more than $300 billion expected to be set aside for those projects. Those improvements would come on the heels of electric grids in Texas losing power during Biden’s first month in office, leaving millions without access to power or running water.
The president was introduced by a local electrical line worker, Mike Fiore, who also is an executive board member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers — a union representing about 750,000 people. Fiore also drew attention to the much-needed investment in America’s power grids and accessibility to broadband internet.
“My brother teaches at Pine-Richland High School in Gibsonia, just north of here, the same high school we both went to,” Fiore said. “The kind of investment Joe Biden is talking about would mean so much to his school and his students both now and in the years to come. For example, President Biden proposes a massive expansion of high-speed broadband and that’s critical to the health of so many small towns in this area.”
He added: “I’ve got two little kids at home myself and I don’t want to see them leave the area or even state to find opportunities.”
Pittsburgh is where Biden, a Scranton, Pennsylvania native, launched his presidential bid in 2019 and is part of a key political battleground state. Republicans beat Democrats in Pennsylvania in the 2016 race for the White House after also carrying the state in 2012, but Democrats swung the electoral votes back to their side last year for Biden.
The president also proposed a $580 billion investment in manufacturing, research and job training efforts. He said skilled workers like Fiore would help manufacture clean energy vehicles and government contracts would ensure those investments.
“Not a contract will go out that I control that will not go to a company that’s an American company, with American products all the way down the line and American workers,” Biden said. “And we’ll buy the goods we need from all America.”
Biden urged bipartisanship and expediency Wednesday, saying history would look back on this global moment as a fundamental choice between autocracies and democracies, and a test of whether the latter could still win the day.
“We have to move now,” Biden said. “Because I’m convinced that if we act now, in 50 years people are going to look back and say, ‘this was the moment that America won the future.’”