Joe Biden

Joe Biden unveils infrastructure plan amid criticism from Ohio Republicans

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Joe Biden kicked off his 2019 presidential campaign with a rally in a Pittsburgh union hall. On Wednesday, he chose a carpenters training center in Pittsburgh to kick off his campaign for a $2 trillion “American Jobs Plan” that won applause from the union members and local politicians in attendance, while Republicans in Congress signaled early opposition.

“It’s a once in a generation investment in America, unlike anything we’ve seen or done since we built the interstate highway system and the space race decades ago,” Biden said of his plan to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure over eight years, create millions of well-paid jobs and position the United States to out-compete China.

He said he aims to finance his plans to boost infrastructure associated with transportation, housing, manufacturing and home care by raising corporate taxes from 21 to 28 percent and reducing incentives for companies to shift jobs and profits to other countries.

Biden assured the crowd that nobody who makes under $400,000 yearly will see an increase under his plan, but the 91 Fortune 500 companies that use loopholes to ensure they pay no federal taxes will have to start paying their fair share. The White House estimates the revisions would fully fund the $2 trillion infrastructure plan within the next 15 years and subsequently reduce deficits on a permanent basis. Biden said the 2017 tax revisions promoted by former President Donald Trump encouraged offshoring jobs and should be overturned.

“When Trump’s tax bill passed, 83% of the money went to the top 1%,” said Biden. “This is about opening opportunities for everybody else.”

Republicans such as Ohio GOP Sen. Rob Portman criticized the high price tag of Biden’s plan and said the proposed tax hike would undermine the economy at a time when it’s struggling to recover from the coronavirus.

“This is the wrong approach,” said a statement from Portman, which argued the 2017 tax changes that Biden wants to scale back “led to one of the best economies in our nation’s history.

“We can work together to find common-sense ways to pay for real infrastructure legislation without resorting to partisan tax hikes that will hurt our economy.” Portman continued.

Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown praised the plan, saying he’s been pushing for major corporations to pay their fair share of taxes for years, and that he believes they should be encouraged to invest in U.S. workers rather than shifting jobs and production overseas. He said he looks forward to working with the Biden administration to pass the bill..

“This plan rebuilds American infrastructure by putting Ohioans to work at good-paying jobs that cannot be shipped overseas, and positions America to lead the world in the industries of tomorrow,” said a statement from Brown. “This is an investment in the Ohio towns, neighborhoods and homes that have been overlooked by Washington and Wall Street for too long.”

Biden’s proposed investments will focus on four areas:

* Transportation infrastructure –$620 billion worth of investments in roads, bridges, rail, and other facets of transportation. The plan aims to double funding for public transit and modernize 20,000 miles of highways and roads. It would also fix the 10 most economically significant bridges in need of reconstruction and repair the worst 10,000 smaller bridges. It would build a network of 500,000 EV chargers to serve electric vehicles, replace 50,000 diesel transit vehicles and electrify at least 20 percent of the yellow bus fleet. It would also strive to make infrastructure more resilient to climate change, in addition to targeting 40 percent of the benefits of the climate and clean infrastructure investments to disadvantaged communities. It would provide $80 billion to address Amtrak’s repair backlog; modernize the high traffic Northeast Corridor; improve existing corridors and connect new city pairs; and enhance grant and loan programs that support passenger and freight rail safety, efficiency, and electrification. It also calls on Congress to invest in protection from extreme wildfires, coastal resilience to sea-level rise and hurricanes, and to restore and protect major land and water resources like Florida’s Everglades and the Great Lakes.

* Residential infrastructure – $650 billion worth of investments in broadband, water, power and affordable housing. It calls for building and renovating more than 2 million units of high-quality affordable housing, replacing all the nation’s lead pipes and service lines, and reducing lead exposure in 400,000 schools and childcare centers. It would lay thousands of miles of transmission lines to make the electric grid more resilient and spend $100 billion to provide universal broadband access, including to the more than 35% of rural Americans who currently lack access, in addition to the underserved communities that currently can’t afford it.

* Manufacturing infrastructure – $580 billion worth of investments in manufacturing, next-generation research and development, high-quality workforce development and critical supply chains. It would offer incentives to help companies work with researchers and local leaders to rebuild supply chains and make a $50 billion investment in domestic semiconductor manufacturing. It would support clean energy manufacturing projects in coal communities and provide incentives for companies – large and small – to locate manufacturing jobs in the nation’s industrial heartland. It calls for capping hundreds of thousands of orphan oil and gas wells and cleaning up abandoned mines. It would double the number of registered apprenticeships to over 1 million to ensure they reach workers and students who have typically been left out, and build a more inclusive science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce by investing in the more than 30% of students who study in minority serving institutions. His package also includes legislation that would ensure all workers have a choice to unionize and would guarantee union and bargaining rights for public service workers. His plan also ensures domestic workers receive legal benefits and protections and tackles pay inequities based on gender.

* Home care infrastructure – $400 billion worth of investments in home- and community-based care for older family members and people with disabilities. It would expand access to long-term care services under Medicaid, and support well-paid caregiving jobs that include benefits and the ability to collectively bargain. Biden also wants Congress to provide $25 billion to help upgrade child care facilities and increase the supply of child care in areas that need it most.

Biden observed that many of the nation’s largest infrastructure drives were championed by Republicans, from Abraham Lincoln promoting construction of a transcontinental railroad to Dwight Eisenhower boosting the interstate highway system.

“I don’t think you’ll find a Republican today in the House or Senate, maybe I’m wrong, who doesn’t think we have to improve our infrastructure,” said Biden. “They know China and other countries are eating our lunch. There’s no reason this can’t be bipartisan.”

In a Fox Business interview, U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan said he expects Democrats will probably push the bill through with no Republican support, and said its high price tag would be ruinous to jobs and the economy.

“This is the hard left taking over the Democrat Party, doing all their radical things, and I assume this is going to be no different,” said Jordan, of Champaign County.

In a separate Fox interview, Cincinnati Republican Brad Wenstrup said that increasing the tax rate on corporations from 21 to 28 percent would “affect us terribly in the world market, it’s going to lose jobs, it’s going to diminish our capabilities. And this is at a time when our supply chain, we realize now through COVID, is in tremendous jeopardy.”

A statement from Bainbridge Township GOP Rep. Dave Joyce said he was encouraged to see that Biden’s plan called for investing in American manufacturing and job training efforts, improving drinking water infrastructure, and expanding broadband access, but he’s concerned about its price tag. He said offsetting its cost “will likely lead to the first major federal tax hike since 1993.

“Any infrastructure plan we pass should help accelerate America’s post-pandemic recovery, not burden struggling businesses with additional taxes as they begin to rehire workers and reignite our economy,” Joyce continued. “As the House works to put together legislation based on the President’s framework, I urge my colleagues to work across the aisle so that we can provide the American people with a bipartisan, fiscally responsible infrastructure package that creates jobs, doesn’t add onto our $28 trillion debt, and spurs economic growth.”

A spokesman for Rocky River Republican Rep. Anthony Gonzalez said he’s still reviewing details of the proposal to see what the overall impact will be on Ohioans.

“However, raising taxes on employers in the wake of a global pandemic seems like an especially poor choice,” said Gonzalez spokesman Mason DiPalma. “Employers are still trying to recover from the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic and a tax increase during this time would slow the recovery process and would lead to more jobs being lost.”

Democratic House of Representatives members Marcy Kaptur of Toledo and Tim Ryan of Youngstown praised the proposal. Kaptur said the House Appropriations subcommittee that she chairs, which oversees funding for energy and water development projects, will likely play a large role in passing “major provisions of this new-age jobs and infrastructure package.”

She said its passage would help to reverse outsourcing of Ohio manufacturing jobs that left communities to fend for themselves. She echoed Biden’s complaints that public domestic investment as a share of the economy has fallen by more than 40 percent since the 1960s, and that the nation’s roads, bridges and water infrastructure is crumbling after decades of neglect.

“For too long, our national leaders have let American innovation and investment slip away to foreign competition,” said a statement from Kaptur. “It’s time America grabs the reins of progress again. The American Jobs Plan will invest in American communities, jobs, and infrastructure in ways not seen for a generation – it is desperately needed and I look forward to working closely with President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and my colleagues in Congress to ensure it becomes a reality. Let us pull forward together for the sake of generations to come.”

A statement from Ryan said Biden unveiled his plan in the Midwest because he “knows that it was working-class Americans in communities like ours who built this country into what it is today, and it will be communities like ours that lead the way to ‘build back better’ and transform the future of America.

“As the President said today, ‘this is the moment to reimagine and rebuild a new economy,’“ said Ryan. “I couldn’t agree more. I am proud that the American Jobs Plan calls for the electrification of the auto industry, including our school buses, diesel trucks and public transportation vehicles. With the investments already made here in Voltage Valley in battery and vehicle production, and the research in clean-energy being done here by local companies and our energy and software incubators, we are well-positioned to not only take full advantage of these investments, but to continue to lead the way in the future of clean energy innovation.”

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