US Infrastructure Spending a top priority of President Biden

infrastructure golden gate bridge

WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES : New hires of transportation and manufacturing specialists made by the White House and President Biden’s meeting with lawmakers on infrastructure spending point towards greater push for a major bill on that front.

During the meeting, President Biden brought up the need for a major building plan to keep up with China and sought support from lawmakers. This intention is in line with his pledge during the 2020 Presidential campaign for a “Build Back Better” plan that promised to invest USD 2 trillion to improve the ageing and crumbling infrastructure of the country amongst other proposals. Such attempts to push for a such similar bills were also made by his predecessors Donald Trump and Barack Obama to no success.

The general consensus is that major spending in that area in the US is long overdue. The current share of federal funding for US infrastructure has been declining for years and stands at only 25%. As a percentage of GDP, the US spends roughly a third below the world average. The decline is evidenced in a recently published 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure by the American Society of Civil Engineers (“ASCE”). The report gave the US a “C -” and found that the United States have a USD 2.59 trillion shortfall in needs such as crumbling roads, bridges and other programs. The report also pointed to the urgent need for greater spending in such areas in the US. The report warned that without a significant increase in US infrastructure spending,the country’s economy will lose USD 10 trillion in growth, exports will decline by US$2.4 trillion and 3 million jobs will be lost by 2039. On the other hand, closing the infrastructure gap would create 1.2% more jobs.

Although both parties have indicated support for such spending in principle, a USD 2 trillion bill would face substantial challenges. These would include the age-old question of how to pay for trillions in spending when neither Congress nor lawmakers have been willing to raise taxes or find new sources of revenue. However, in comparison to the two major stimulus packages (USD 2.2 trillion CARES Act and the recently passed USD 1.9 trillion stimulus package), a USD 2 trillion infrastructure bill may not be a stretch.The other challenge would be to gain bipartisan support for the details to be included in such a bill. Potential issues that are likely to arise include who (federal or state) and how will the plan be financed (public or private funds) and how “green” the plan should be.

Whether President Biden succeeds in getting the ambitious bill passed remains to be seen. What is more apparent is the country’s urgent need to prioritise such spending as shown by the recent emergency power outages in Texas.

Source :
https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/business/us-gets–c—-faces-us-2-59-trillion-in-infrastructure-needs-over-10-years–report-14321938
https://infrastructurereportcard.org/asce-2021-infrastructure-report-card-gives-u-s-c-grade/
https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3121508/joe-biden-says-us-needs-major-infrastructure-plan-keep-pace
https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/business/exclusive–new-biden-economic-hires-point-toward-infrastructure–manufacturing-emphasis-14333158
https://www.scmp.com/comment/opinion/article/3124565/china-can-help-biden-build-back-better-and-boost-us-infrastructure

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