• Ryan Lipton

Biden's $2.25T infrastructure plan could not come at better time for America


Joe Biden's $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan could not come at a better time, as American civil infrastructure is crumbling before our eyes.


The American Society of Civil Engineers gave the United States’ infrastructure a C- grade in 2021, showing just how much work the country has to do.


The ASCE report card grades different parts of a country's infrastructure, as can be seen below. Only two sections of our infrastructure got a grade of B- or better (ports and rail) while 11 out of 17 components received a D+ grade or worse.

According to the ASCE website, a B grade in infrastructure would be considered good and adequate for now while the other grades are defined as:


A - Exceptional fit for the future

C - Mediocre, requires attention

D - Poor, at risk

F - Failing/critical, unfit for purpose


For more detail on what goes into the infrastructure grade, click here.


The ASCE report mentions that the country needs to invest $2.59 trillion over the next 10 years for the U.S. to regain a B rating in infrastructure, about $340 billion more than Biden's current proposal.


The report also mentions that a failure to act would cost America $10 trillion in gross domestic product, three million jobs, $2.4 trillion in exports and an estimated $3,300 per household per year by 2039.


To determine where the most investment is needed, the ASCE divides the country's infrastructure into categories and projects the amount of spending necessary to receive an adequate grade.

While the Biden bill does not spend ASCE’s recommended amount on every single issue listed above, it does provide a lot of money to address the most pressing needs such as surface transportation, drinking water/wastewater, electricity, ports and airports while also including initiatives to address climate change and racial inequities.


Transportation


Many different items fall into transportation, such as aviation (D+), bridges (C), rail (B), roads (D), ports (B-), and transit (D-). The Biden plan has allocated a sizable sum of money for each segment of transportation.


It will provide $115 billion to improve bridges, highways, and roads, $20 billion for road safety, $85 billion to modernize public transit, $80 billion for Amtrak, $25 billion for airports, $17 billion for ports, and $20 billion to improve public transit in disadvantaged communities, per Bloomberg.


The plan will also provide $174 billion in funding for electric vehicles such as rebates, tax incentives for consumers to buy American-made electric vehicles, grants for state and local governments and the private sector to build 500,000 charging stations by the end of the decade and funds to help electrify school busses and federal vehicles.


Energy (C-)


Biden plans to allocate $100 billion to rebuild the country's electric grid and make it more resilient so disasters like the most recent one in Texas do not happen again.


Public Lands, Parks (D+)


The plan proposes $10 billion in funding for a Civilian Climate Corps that makes sure public lands and water are conserved properly, as well as a plan to build 10 carbon-capture facilities that would counteract carbon emissions.


Drinking Water (C-), Wastewater (D+)


The plan includes $45 billion to replace all lead pipes nationwide, $56 billion for water systems in disadvantaged communities, and $10 billion to improve rural-well and waste-water systems.


Schools (D+)


Schools would receive $100 billion to improve public school buildings, community-colleges would get $12 billion to improve their technology and facilities, and $25 billion would go to child-care facilities and incentives for employers to offer on-site child care.


While there are still some issues that remain on the report card above that aren't directly addressed, Biden's bill does account for important infrastructure issues that aren’t included in the ASCE report card such as broadband internet, housing, semiconductors, and important science/climate research that are critical to the country’s future.


Broadband Internet


Broadband internet should be considered infrastructure as someone who doesn't have internet access will fall behind fast in today's increasingly online world. The bill includes $100 billion to help bring high-speed internet access to every single American.


Housing


The bill would allocate $213 billion to build and renovate two million affordable homes in addition to creating tax credits for low-income housing and $40 billion for public housing.


Research and Development, Manufacturing


The bill will provide $300 billion in aid for manufacturing initiatives with $50 billion going to semiconductor manufacturing, $50 billion going to the National Science Foundation to create a technology directorate and $50 billion for a new office at the Department of Commerce dedicated to monitoring the production of critical goods for the US economy.


While semiconductors may not be considered infrastructure, basically everything in technology needs a semiconductor chip to run properly. A semiconductor chip may be small in size, but it is critical for American society to function.


Research infrastructure like labs at universities and federal agencies will receive $180 billion to create initiatives focused on climate change and gender/racial inequities in science, math and technology.


Final thoughts on the infrastructure bill


While the proposed bill may not fix every single issue facing America's infrastructure, it spends big and addresses many crucial items that can drastically improve the future of every single American.


Of course, the bill is a long way from being passed and faces some difficulties, such as the Republican party who may try to block the bill citing the budget deficit, which could lead to some initiatives possibly being withdrawn from the bill.


Nonetheless, massive infrastructure spending is needed to ensure a bright future for the American people and Biden is taking a necessary step in the right direction by wanting to spend over $2 trillion on infrastructure.


"The country needs a bold new commitment to public investment," said Bloomberg's editorial board. "The U.S. is visibly falling behind. Any recent traveler to Beijing or Shanghai is struck by how shabby American airports and city grids look in comparison. And this isn’t just about appearances. China is proving that modern infrastructure is an essential component of industrial competitiveness and economic growth. Unless something changes, Washington’s neglect of roads, bridges and other connective tissue, plus failure to invest in the infrastructure of the future — from digital access to clean power grids — will condemn the U.S. to relative economic decline."

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About Ryan Lipton:


Ryan is a graduate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and majored in Business Journalism. He has written in the past for SB Nation's Silver and Black Pride, USA Today Sports Media Group, North Carolina Business News Wire, the Daily Tar Heel, and has worked with Ice Cube's BIG3 basketball league.


For more of Ryan Lipton's articles click here.