Finally, a Federal law passed that wasn't designed to further enrich Millionaires & Billionaires!
Biden's new, paired down $1 trillion infrastructure Plan will be signed into law this week, designating much needed national investment for antiquated or decaying roads, bridges, ports, rail transit, safe water, the power grid, broadband internet and more. The House passed the barely bipartisan plan Friday night.
The new spending law promises to reach almost every corner of the country, giving average Americans something useful in their lives, compared to totally unnecessary tax cuts for multimillionaires and billionaires.
The national infrastructure investments that the law funds has been compared to the building of the transcontinental railroad and Interstate Highway System. Although this comparison seems exaggerated, economists are projecting that the investments will add, on average, about 2 million jobs per year over the coming decade.
Hopefully the jobs will offer livable hourly wages instead of more insulting underpaid hourly pittance that further foster our shameful national income inequality. And let's hope the money actually creates good long-term paying salaried jobs - and for remedying public health catastrophes such as dangerously polluted drinking water systems like in Flint and Benton Harbor, Michigan.
Moreover, even the fact that the paired down amount available for national Infrastructure projects was disappointing, the money will hopefully offer investors like us with some attractive opportunities over the next few years.
The bill cleared the House on a 228-206 vote, thankfully ending weeks of manufactured media drama over intra-party negotiations in which the so-called progressive Democrats - who are not nearly as corrupted by corporate lobby money as the elite Republican leadership or the Wall Street Democrats - insisted the legislation be tied to a larger, $1.75 trillion social spending bill.
In the end, the Senate passed the legislation on a 69-30 vote in August after rare bipartisan negotiations, and the House kept that compromise intact. In an increasingly rare Republican sanity event, 13 House Republicans also voted for the bill.
Here’s a breakdown of the Infrastructure bill:
Roads and Bridges
The bill should provide $110 billion to repair the nation’s aging highways, bridges and roads. In fact, roughly 173,000 total miles (or nearly 280,000 kilometers) of America’s highways and major roads and 45,000 bridges are in poor condition. The almost $40 billion for bridges is the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the national highway system.
The $39 billion for public transit in the legislation would expand transportation systems, improve accessibility for people with disabilities and provide dollars to state and local governments to buy zero-emission and low-emission buses. The Transportation Department estimates that the current repair backlog is more than 24,000 buses, 5,000 rail cars, 200 stations and thousands of miles of track and power systems.
Passenger and Freight Rail
To reduce Amtrak’s maintenance backlog, which has worsened since Superstorm Sandy nine years ago, the bill would provide $66 billion to improve the rail service’s Northeast Corridor (457 miles, 735 km), as well as other routes. It will be the largest federal investment in passenger rail service since Amtrak was founded 50 years ago.
A very constructive aspect of Biden's bill will spend $7.5 billion for the development of a national electric vehicle charging station network - which is critical to accelerating the use of electric vehicles to help curb the toxic pollution from fossil fuel gasoline, as well as the increasingly prevalent devastation caused by more frequent extreme weather events. It will also provide $5 billion for the purchase of electric school buses and hybrids, reducing reliance on school buses that run on dirty diesel fuel.
The legislation’s $65 billion for broadband access is designed to improve internet services for rural areas, low-income families and tribal communities. Most of the money would be made available through grants to states who have the political sense to take it.
Modernizing the Electric Grid
To protect against power outages (like the one in Texas earlier this year - caused by an inadequate overly-privatized fossil fuel dependent system) that have become more frequent in recent years, the bill would spend $65 billion to improve the reliability and resiliency of the power grid. It would also boost carbon capture technologies and more environmentally friendly electricity sources like clean hydrogen.
The bill will spend $25 billion to improve runways, gates and taxiways at airports and to improve terminals. It will also be used to improve aging air traffic control towers.
Safer Drinking Water and Wastewater Treatment
In my view, the most crucial part of the legislation would spend $55 billion on much degraded water and wastewater infrastructure. It allocates $15 billion to replace decrepit lead pipes and $10 billion to address water contamination from polyfluoroalkyl substances - chemicals that were used in the production of Teflon and have also been used in firefighting foam, water-repellent clothing and many other items.
The older northern states are most in need of water infrastructure funds today, but it is only a matter of tme before increased water shortages caused by "underfunded" overdevelopment and climate change will need infrastructure money as well.
Paying For It
Unfortunately, the proposed small tax on "billionaire incomes" to help pay for a larger, more effective infrastructure fund was "scrapped" - not ironically by the elitist Dems like Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema, and, of course, most of the Republican Party apparatchik, who never saw a fair and reasonable tax increase on the rich they didn't stupidly label as "the evil of socialism."
Instead, the five-year spending package will be paid for by tapping $210 billion in unspent COVID-19 relief aid and $53 billion in unemployment insurance aid that the "family values" governors in the mostly Trump MAGA states have halted, along with an array of smaller pots of money, like petroleum reserve sales and spectrum auctions for 5G services.
Unless our national political economic dialogue does a major honesty and sanity shift for the benefit of all Americans, the political elites (from both parties) will decide to use their vast wealth to ONLY fund the "privatized" infrastructure of their own exclusive neighborhoods and subdivisions, which in the end constitutes another elitist "legislative privilege" to avoid paying any taxes for even basic infrastructure benefits nationally.
Yes, these cynical "never enough" elites have the wealth to hire lobbyists to bribe politicians to rewrite the laws accordingly.
This privatization effort will directly harm white non-college educated blue collar Americans much more than middle to upper middle class citizens, who statistically are much more likely to have a college degree, are wealthier in general, and have the career skills to better adapt to negative macro-economic shifts both domestically and globally.
It is ironic that the Republican Party under the new MAGA leadership wants their too often gullible voters to blame (and thus) hate government, in the process offering nothing economically better for their voters, instead manipulating their voters by promoting mostly bogus "race" issues like the fear-mongering concern over "critical race theory" and obsessive socialist scare tactics.
Apparently the only "race" issue the MAGA Republicans want their constituents exposed to is NASCAR! And of course massive corporate welfare - "Wall Street socialism" - is fine and dandy with the likes of Ted Cruz et al, as long as it benefits their favored sectors - like the fossil fuel industry.
Inherent in this pervasive MAGA GOP "Big Economic Lie" - especially when it comes to their voters and the economics of middle and lower income Americans - there is very little real difference between the Republican Party and the Democrats. If there is a difference, it is to what sectors and industries the two parties direct OUR privatized tax dollars.
Finally, it is my hope the 5-year infrastructure plan funds gets spent in the next three years before the 2024 Presidential election.
Why? Because the Trump Republican Party governors running the MAGA / Anti-Vaccine conspiracy states are actively passing voter suppression laws designed to exclude minority voters so they can create a corrupted Electoral College voting system to manipulate and fix both the 2022 mid-term elections - but especially the 2024 Presidential election.
And given the fiscal corruption we saw during the Trump administration's four years in DC, any new MAGA Republican administration in 2024 could simply halt the infrastructure plan, renege on the contracts, steal the allocated infrastructure money, and pilfer the funds for use with other program(s) more suited to their MAGA cronyism.
Best to spend the Biden Infrastructure money sooner rather than later - before it gets "lost" after 2024 if Trump or one of his (s)elected replicants have control of it.