Biden offers $ 2 trillion to transform infrastructure and economy

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WASHINGTON | US President Joe Biden will propose Wednesday to invest some $ 2 trillion in infrastructure, with the stated goal of creating millions of jobs, standing up to China and fighting climate change.

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The first phase of his “Build Back Better” program, which he will present at a speech in Pittsburgh, Pa., Will detail those investments that would be spread over eight years and funded by a hike in capital. corporation tax from 21% to 28%.

In particular, it plans to inject $ 620 billion in transportation, modernizing more than 20,000 miles of roads and highways and repairing some 10,000 bridges across the United States.

This new legislative offensive comes shortly after the adoption by Congress of a recovery plan focused on the Covid-19 pandemic, also estimated at nearly 2,000 billion dollars.

But the Pittsburgh speech will only be the starting point of a bitter battle in Congress, the outcome of which is uncertain. The Democratic majority there is indeed narrow and the negotiations promise to be formidable.

Already, the first dissonant voices have come from the left wing of the Democratic Party.

For the elected New York Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the sums proposed are simply “insufficient”. “The envelope has to be much bigger,” she tweeted.

For the Republican senator of Wyoming John Barrasso, on the other hand, this project is only a “Trojan horse” to allow the Democrats “to spend more and to raise the taxes”.

The only certainty: the coming months will test the negotiating qualities of the Democratic president, a fine connoisseur of the workings of Washington.

“The urgency to act”

“The president wants to make it clear that he has a plan and that he is open to discussion,” said a senior White House official.

“But he will not compromise on the urgency to act” and the need to be ambitious to “reimagine” a “new American economy”, he added.

The plan plans to amplify “the revolution of electric vehicles” with, for example, the switch to electricity for 20% of the famous yellow school buses.

It also aims to make new infrastructures more resistant to changes linked to climate change.

Restore or build roads, bridges, railways, ports and airports? The idea is of course meaningful to the general public, especially since many infrastructures in the United States date from the 1950s and their dilapidation is not the subject of debate.

But building a political consensus is no easy task.

Joe Biden’s two predecessors, Donald Trump and Barack Obama, had also made great promises on this subject. They have remained a dead letter.

“Dangerous” error

Former rival of Joe Biden in the Democratic primaries and now Minister of Transport, Pete Buttigieg, who will be on the front line on this issue, ensures that everything will be different this time, that the stars are aligned.

“I think we have an extraordinary opportunity to have the support of both parties to think big and be daring on infrastructure,” insists the young minister.

“Americans don’t need to be explained to them that we need to act on infrastructure, and the reality is you can’t separate the climate dimension” from this challenge.

If Pete Buttigieg’s enthusiasm and political capital are real, the task promises to be daunting.

Tellingly, the American Chamber of Commerce, which had so far welcomed many of Joe Biden’s decisions, from the return to the Paris climate agreement to the rescue plan for the economy, expressed its clear disagreement on Wednesday.

If she approves of the desire to make infrastructure a priority, she believes that the Democratic president is “dangerously” wrong on how to finance his ambitious program.

“We are fiercely opposed to the proposed tax hikes that will slow the economic recovery and make the United States less competitive on the international stage, the exact opposite of the goals of this plan.”

In an aggressive and unqualified statement, Donald Trump accused his successor of proposing a strategy of “total economic capitulation”. Denouncing a “monstrosity”, he estimated that the increase in the corporate tax would be “a huge gift” to China.

“Joe Biden’s cruel attack on the American dream must never become law (…). Our economy will be destroyed! ”He concluded, repeating a formula regularly used in the campaign when he spoke of the possible victory of his opponent.

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