The Biden administration’s so-called “once in a generation” infrastructure plan has Washington Republicans fuming more than anything that could come from a diesel truck.
President Joe Biden’s plan “is not going to get support from our side,” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has said.
He condemned the entire Democratic agenda, saying, “I’m going to fight them every step of the way, because I think this is the wrong prescription for America.”
It is true that roads, railways and bridges are not the only things that come with the infrastructure plan’s $2 trillion price tag.
The proposal also would mean investment in such things as universal broadband, electric-car charging stations, affordable homes and assistance to older and Americans with disabilities.
To be certain, the plan broadens the definition of infrastructure. But focusing on those ancillary issues – many of which address real needs – paves over reality.
The nation’s infrastructure is outdated and in bad shape, and that affects the ability of U.S. businesses to compete in a global marketplace – and all of us on the street level.
The American Jobs Plan would invest $621 billion in repair and construction of roads, bridges, transit and rail service. That includes modernizing 20,000 miles of roads, fixing the nation’s 10 most “economically significant” bridges and repairing 10,000 smaller bridges in poor condition. That would support many, many jobs across the country.
There also would be big allotments for transit improvements and expansions, railway improvements and to update airports. Billions would be directed to modernize federal buildings, improve community college infrastructure and modernize Veterans Affairs hospitals.
Infrastructure should not be a polarizing issue, and there was a time not too long ago that it was not.
“They know we need it,” Biden said this week of Republicans. “Everybody around the world is investing billions and billions of dollars in infrastructure, and we’re going to do it here.”
The American Society of Civil Engineers says that 43% of our public roadways are in poor or mediocre condition. It gives the nation’s overall infrastructure a “C-”.
Former President Donald Trump pledged twice to address infrastructure. While running for office in 2016, he pushed a $1 trillion infrastructure plan that would have used tax incentives to entice private investment in public works projects.
Trump outlined a second $1 trillion plan in early 2020 for roads, rail, water systems and other infrastructure, paid for by fuel tax revenue.
He couldn’t get either done.
Biden wants to pay for his eight-year spending package by raising the minimum tax on U.S. corporations to 21% and the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21%.
A Moody’s Analytics report says that “despite the higher corporate taxes and the larger government deficits, the plan provides a meaningful boost to the nation’s long-term economic growth.”
In short, investing in infrastructure and transportation systems would be in support of the very corporations that are being asked to help pay for the improvements. They use and benefit from roads, bridges, rail lines, power lines and water and sewer lines more than any other taxpayers.
Ohio certainly could use help with our more than 21,000 center-line miles of road and 44,047 bridges.
In February, the Ohio Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the state’s infrastructure an overall grade of “C-,” which is slightly ahead of the national average of “D+” given in 2017.
Ohio’s levees, roads and transit all received big, fat “D’s,” the lowest grade.
More than 5% of the state’s 27,072 highway bridges are classified as structurally deficient, according to a recent report by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, which uses data from the Federal Highway Administration National Bridge Inventory.
In 2020, Ohio ranked 12th in the nation when it comes to structurally deficient bridges.
Matt Bruning, statewide press secretary for the Ohio Department of Transportation, says most of 25 bridges the association lists as Ohio’s top traveled, structurally deficient bridges have been replaced or repaired, or are scheduled to be.
The infrastructure controlled by ODOT is in overall good shape thanks in part to the gas tax increase signed by Gov. Mike DeWine in 2019, but Bruning says additional money from the federal government would be put to good use.
“Ninety-six cents of every dollar goes to the preservation of roadway we already have,” he said. “If Washington were to send us more money, we know where we would spend it.”
Biden said he will have “a good-faith negotiation with any Republican who wants to help get this done.”
McConnell and other Republicans need to meet him at the table.
The crater-size holes in the nation’s infrastructure need to be filled to keep America moving.
Editorials are The Dispatch Editorial Board’s fact-based assessment of issues of importance to the communities we serve. These are not the opinions of our reporting staff members, who strive for neutrality in their reporting.