Opinion: American Jobs Plan Could Help Bolster American Infrastructure
Despite its position as the wealthiest nation in the world, the United States of America falls short among developed nations regarding infrastructure. According to the World Economic Forum, America’s infrastructure ranks 13th in the world, mostly due to its relatively low road quality, lack of railroad density and ineffective transit networks.
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) took a closer look at the problem and found that nearly every aspect of America’s infrastructure was outdated, underfunded or inefficient. Their report from March 2021 argued that if Congress did not act, over $10 trillion will be lost in economic development, job growth and exports.
In 2017, President Donald Trump acknowledged that infrastructure was a serious problem that his administration wanted to tackle. Daniel Slane, a former member of Trump’s transitional team, compiled a list of the 50 highest-priority infrastructure projects in the country which served as the model for Trump’s $1 trillion plan.
In Donald Trump’s $1 trillion plan, resources were allocated for roads, bridges, 5G wireless and rural broadband.
In an interview with Vice News, Slane said, “There’s only two ways to grow your economy: You increase employment or you increase productivity. Infrastructure does both.”
With Trump’s populist messaging, there was hope among infrastructure experts that some of these projects would receive federal funding. However, Congress was unwilling to invest in these projects, instead assessing the Constitutional responsibility was on the states. Most states cannot fund massive projects on their own simply by tax revenue and public-private partnerships, however. They tabled many of the most important projects and America’s infrastructure continued to crumble.
President Biden’s American Jobs Plan seeks to circumnavigate the issue of funding by compelling Congress to invest federal funds through a significant increase on corporate tax rates. The Biden administration argues that, “President Biden’s plan will reward investment at home, stop profit shifting, and ensure other nations won’t gain a competitive edge by becoming tax havens.”
They also assert that the cost of not passing an infrastructure bill would be far greater than the cost to pass it. For example, the outdated and poor quality roads that stretch across the U.S. end up costing $786 billion per year in a backlog of repairs and $160 billion in delays alone according to the ASCE. The American Jobs Plan would invest an additional $115 billion on modernizing bridges, tunnels, highways and roads that are in most critical need of repair. By investing heavily in bringing America’s roadways into the 21st century, the American people can feel confident that the roads are being used to their fullest economic capacity.
This future could mean a train can move travelers between cities in half the time it would take to drive. Drivers would not have to fear bridge failures or meander through severe congestion inside tunnels built in the 1930s. Increased broadband internet access would give the next generation of innovators enough resources to develop their ideas. Although it will raise taxes and other expenses, it will provide a better quality of life, while not necessarily as quantifiable as the economic benefits, that should still be a strong consideration in regards to America’s infrastructure.
The American Jobs Plan looks to a future where Americans can enjoy the same benefits of a well-funded infrastructure system that citizens of Singapore, Japan, Germany and France enjoy. Clean roads, efficient airports and high-speed trains connect those nations to economic development that the United States could miss out on if it does not fix its infrastructure, and the American Jobs Plan would be the best place to start.
Austin Gaebe is an Opinion Writer. Follow him on Twitter at @AustinGaebe.