Biden’s New Infrastructure Plan to Push the U.S into the Future, With or Without the GOP
Written by Jacob Weaver (Meidas University)
Imagine, for a moment, that you are living in a country that touts itself as the best in the world. Now, imagine that in said country, you find yourself scooping snow into buckets and pulling icicles from rooftops to melt down to water - all so you can simply flush your toilet. Now, if you live in the United States of America, you can stop imagining. When the devastating winter storms hit Texas back in February, millions of homes across the state lost power and many would additionally run out of clean water. With frozen pipelines causing unforeseen damage to a number of homes, and a running total of 125 deaths at the time of this writing, this event will be one never forgotten by those affected. Those who were fortunate enough to keep their lives did so by sole determination, and without the help of their state representatives like Ted Cruz who instead flew to Cancun for vacation. After billions of dollars worth of damages, hypothermia deaths in the double or triple digits, and a statewide infrastructure setback for the ages, one question remains unanswered. Could this have been prevented? Short answer: yes, many lives could have been saved, but not if you ask the Republican leadership at fault. Regardless of which party you represent, Mother Nature is an unstoppable force, but with Texas being one of the few states in the country to opt for a private energy grid over the federal energy grid, they failed their citizens. Republican Governor Greg Abbott has and will continue to deflect, but this was an infrastructure failure of catastrophic proportions brought on by a misguided, anti-government belief that a solo state power grid was somehow better than a federal grid upon which two states can exchange energy in emergency situations. As President Biden and the White House announced his $2 Trillion Infrastructure Plan last month, these same Republicans who failed their own people have come out in attack of the proposed legislation, despite the overwhelmingly positive effects it would have on their home states and constituents. According to a March 31st White House press release donning it ‘The American Jobs Plan’, the Biden team proposes that this is not to be seen as just an infrastructure bill, but as an “investment in America” that is expected to create “millions of good jobs” and will “rebuild [the] country’s infrastructure.” The proposal includes funding for basic transportation infrastructure such as roads and bridges, but also less traditional types of infrastructure including the electric grid and nationwide broadband services. In association with Fox News and others, the right have decried the more modern approach to this bill, stating that something such as broadband is not considered infrastructure. Conveniently enough, they seemed to have forgotten that Donald Trump’s 2019 Infrastructure Plan also included broadband as a major platform and an area in high need of investment. They also seemed to have forgotten the mess they put Texas in just weeks ago due to their unstable power grid. No, of course they did not just ‘forget’, instead they are once again choosing to weaponize political selective memory. And, yes, this fact alone shows that the GOP’s intentions are only ever related to the ballot box, not to bettering the lives of their constituents. In the same press release, the White House also states that the United States “ranks 13th [in] overall quality of...infrastructure” despite being “the wealthiest country in the world.” If nothing else, this highlights a tremendous and immediate need for improvement. Since the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the country in March of 2020, the disparity gap in internet access hit like a high-magnitude earthquake. An FCC report last year found that at least 21 million Americans did not have access to serviceable broadband internet. Included in these numbers are public libraries, schools, and rural medical facilities. This lack of a secure, usable connection affects the quality of life in rural and poor America, by disconnecting those within from those outside, and by setting facilities behind in technological advances. For kids and students without access to broadband internet during the pandemic for things such as online learning, their lost year of proper education could prove a noteworthy set back in years to come. Some right-wing media outlets have stated that Biden is “preparing tax hikes” to pay for this plan, but Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg, has since demoted this idea, stating emphatically that nobody making less than $400,000 per year would see an increase in their tax rate - a promise that Joe Biden made throughout his presidential campaign. This plan is expected, in part, to pay for itself within a number of years, but resetting the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% will, too, provide funding. Though the Republican Party will continue to hunt for grievances with this plan, Oxford Languages defines ‘Infrastructure’ as the “basic physical and organizational structures and facilities needed for the operation of a society or enterprise.” Examples that inarguably fall into this category could include things such as clean and drinkable water, a better functioning power grid, affordable housing, and equal access to technological facilities and advances. Or, to put it simply, the American Jobs Plan.